Following the widespread disruption caused by COVID-19, organisations such as CAKE People Development have had to adapt at breakneck speed. Under normal circumstances, CAKE’s strategy would have been to incorporate face-to-face as well as online learning sessions to create a blend of learning deliveries. However, this was no longer feasible given the circumstances.
Instead, the team was left with no option but to adapt and deliver their entire learning offering digitally. This meant that the relevant content needed to be made available to remote learners with minimal disruption to learning progress or compromise on quality.
So, how did CAKE and Thinqi join forces to overcome these unparalleled challenges and create an engaging and highly-effective digital-first programme?
First, let’s introduce you to the good people at CAKE. CAKE is a learning and development partner that provides a mix of solutions, including:
- Business consultancy
- Coaching and mentoring
- Leadership and management
- Learning and development (L&D)
Comprised of a team of highly experienced L&D professionals, CAKE helps organisations develop and deliver their L&D strategies through an innovative, blended learning approach that we at Thinqi are proud to assist.
Their commitment is one that is perfectly aligned with ours – to inspire modern learners to reach their full potential through rich blended learning experiences, incorporating aspects of both face-to-face facilitation and digital delivery.
During this time of unprecedented change, CAKE found that both new and existing customers were curious as to how the face-to-face elements of their programmes would work digitally, showing an understandable reticence towards the idea of an exclusively online experience.
Although CAKE had already established a solid offering of digital learning, they became increasingly aware that they needed to take things further.
“We have always maintained an exceptionally high standard of programmes, however the delivery method that we were using was a classic face to face with some digital around it to support it,” says Laura Broome, Experience Design Manager at CAKE. “This was not just a case of simply switching it to digital. A lot of the opportunity is based around the question: ‘How could this look now?’ We had to think about how to make things more suited to the modern-day learner, allowing them to access their learning at the point of need.”
Until recently, CAKE’s blended approach had been structured in a way that was predominantly face-to-face, with the digital aspect acting as its support. The Thinqi platform was used as a place to keep curated resources and Playlists to supplement learning, as opposed to being the primary focus. However, as Director Margaret Burnside notes, the strategic shift had to be flipped the other way around in order to move forward. The current need was to provide their learning programmes entirely through digital.
“We also needed to think about bringing in new content and not just new methods of delivery,” says Laura. “This wasn’t about transferring over current programmes straight over to digital; this was about revisiting everything to ensure it is relevant and engaging.”
This is a forward-thinking approach from a team who are constantly striving to be ahead of the game when it comes to delivering effective learning programmes. Traditionally, training has always been the expected response to an organisational need. However, CAKE was ready to turn this on its head and lead the way, rather than being reactive to organisational requests. They realised that driving change in culture and expectations may not be the simplest thing to do, but people tend not to realise the benefits of change until after the event. Proactivity was therefore key.
However, in order to do this, they needed the right tools.
CAKE acted upon this need by implementing a digital-first programme using Thinqi, putting the digital experience at the core of their strategy.
“What we have noticed is that L&D people in various organisations are very enlightened and have been trying to get the digital movement going for a while, whereas other people in their organisations are still clinging to face-to-face,” says Margaret. What this means is that those in L&D are now having to put their first foot forward to grab this window of opportunity and produce engaging digital-based programmes. “A lot of the L&D communities that we’re working with are making the shift in various ways but are looking for some help around the design. They want to make it more than just webinars, which is what a lot of traditional organisations are doing.”
So, what effects have they seen so far from this digital approach?
“One of the major benefits people are starting to see with digital is related to time,” says Laura. “Not only are they cutting down on time needed to travel and perhaps stay away overnight, but they also seem to be able to do so much more in less time.” As an example, she notes that a day’s session can now easily be split into multiple sessions, making it easier to maintain focus and engagement.
Going digital has also vastly improved focus within the sessions compared with face-to-face. Laura notes that although conversations still happen within the online environment, there is less of a tendency amongst class participants to divert from the main topic and to stay on track with the learning.
What about personalisation? How can the relevancy of learning content be improved?
With curation tools such as Thinqi’s Playlists, learners can pick and choose the pieces of content most relevant to them. As an example, Laura notes, “There may be someone on a management course who is new to the subject and therefore absorbs every bit of information like a sponge. However, there may be others who have 10 years’ management experience, who have never had any kind of official accreditation. Not everything will be so new to them. Playlists give learners the flexibility to focus on the content that fits their individual needs.”
It is this level of personalisation that perfectly supports individual learning journeys, which instils the feeling that the content is tailored to the learner while still following the same core programme.
It’s another step forward for modern learning.
The next steps
Digital-first was always part of CAKE’s strategy and now they’re working on what they call “Digital 2.0” in terms of moving it forward to something truly transformative.
They are already implementing this digital-first programme using Thinqi and starting to see some promising results. Now, the CAKE team have added our all-new Virtual Classrooms to their learning delivery repertoire and are fast developing ways to design their programme without ever having to leave the LMS. Currently, CAKE are using various different apps to create interactive workshops, but with Virtual Classrooms, they have access to tools such as annotation, live assessments, digital whiteboards, and virtual breakout rooms. It’s a truly rich palette to design from.
Director Steve Burnside is also very keen to see how Virtual Classrooms will further enhance the strategy and it’s clear that there’s a real sense of excitement between CAKE and Thinqi for the next part of their journey.
This is more than just a temporary shift for CAKE – it’s the beginning of a long-term solution. Staying mindful of those who still want to hold face-to-face sessions once it is safe to do so, CAKE will still be incorporating an aspect of face-to-face learning; however, this will not be the central focus. The face-to-face elements will instead be optional for those who want it, with digital as the mainstay. Going forward, their blended learning programmes with eventually be designed with digital at the core, and everything else (including face-to-face sessions) working around it.
Digital transformation with Thinqi? It’s a piece of CAKE.
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