Learning Loops: What is a learning loop, and how do you create one?

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Introduction:

Organizations worldwide strive to optimize their L&D processes. After all, an educated, experienced workplace is a happy, productive workplace. Your corporate L&D should not be an afterthought. It should be at the top of your agenda. After all, the ongoing success of your organization depends on everyone’s skills, so the success of any L&D strategy you implement is paramount.

Successful L&D is not linear. It’s not a knowledge gap—L&D—end. A continual, circular path, a loop, is one where learners continually evaluate, assess, and improve how knowledge is acquired and retained. Below is a look at this learning loop in a little more detail. 

What is a Learning Loop?

You’ve undoubtedly heard about learner engagement, actions taken to affect change, and experiences that accelerate performance. Often referred to as a cycle or loop, this “learning process” has been long championed by the education sector as an effective means of knowledge retention. This learning loop is highly effective in driving user engagement. Unsurprisingly, this methodology has filtered from educational learning to commercial learning.

There are four key actions in a Learning loop these are: 

  1. Learning or acquiring and retaining new knowledge. Sometimes known as the “instruction phase,” commercial L&D can be completed in either planned lessons or bite-sized chunks in both formal and informal settings. 
  2. Application or demonstrating how your people will put their newly acquired knowledge into practice. This is done either through an assessment, like a short quiz or in-depth examination, or by applying the knowledge acquired to their day-to-day role.
  3. Feedback is gaining an understanding of how the learners felt and how successful the learning process has been. Feedback sessions can be delivered online or in person from a line manager or dedicated L&D member of staff. 
  4. Reflection or analyzing what could be done differently in the future to enhance learning and knowledge retention. Formal or informal reflection can be conducted in small or large groups. Areas that could be discussed include:
  • Discussing the experience with course leaders or distributing.
  • Filling out.
  • Collecting questionnaires to prompt learners to record their thoughts on the L&D process. 

What are the five steps of the Learning Loop?

The learning loop has five steps. Remember, there is no natural end to the process. The moment one step ends, the next begins. It’s a cycle that repeats over and over throughout the learning process. 

Below are the five steps in the learning loop:

Step 1: Awareness, assessment, and analysis

  • Identify learning objectives: the first stage of the learning loop is to define what you want learners to achieve once the loop has been completed. Acquiring new knowledge and skills would be one outcome.
  • Assess prior knowledge: another approach to step one of the learning loop is to gain insight into existing knowledge and skills to help tailor the learning experience to what learners want or need.

Step 2: Design

  • Develop instructional materials: the next stage is to create content and instructional materials that align with learning objectives. This could include written materials, multimedia resources, interactive activities, and assessments.
  • Choose appropriate instructional methods: once you’ve created the content, you’ll need to choose the instructional strategies that best suit the content and preferences of the learners. This could include lectures, discussions, hands-on activities, simulations, or a combination of different instructional methods.

Step 3: Implementation

  • Delivery of instruction: The third stage involves actually delivering the instructional content to learners. This could be in an in-person classroom setting or online through, for example, a series of webinars or blended learning.
  • Facilitate learning activities: encourage learner engagement through various activities. This could involve group discussions, practical exercises, or other interactive elements.

Step 4: Assessment and feedback

  • Evaluate learning: assess how well learners are grasping the material. You can do this by running tests, such as quizzes and exams, monitoring practical applications, or administering some other way of assessing learners.
  • Provide feedback: give learners constructive feedback. Praise them when they deserve it and encourage them not to give up and explore a topic they are struggling to grasp in more detail.

Step- 5: Reflection and iteration

  • Evaluate the effectiveness: Analyse the overall effectiveness of the learning loop. Note whether it met the learning objectives and whether there were any unexpected challenges.
  • Iterate and improve: once you’ve evaluated performance, make any necessary adjustments to hone the learning process. You could refine the content, change instructional methods, or address any issues identified during the learning process.

Examples of Learning Loops:

Understanding learning loops can be a challenge. But don’t worry. Below, we’ve outlined clear examples to help your organization fully understand what they are and how your organization can clearly understand the differences between single, double, and triple learning loops in the workplace.

1. Single learning loops:

An example of single-loop learning might be if the release of that long-awaited new software feature (the outcome of an action) is delayed. Your organization’s software team delivered the feature.

Single learning loops examine only a specific scenario. The result might be that it’s impossible to deliver the new software feature in the agreed-upon time. The resulting action is to add more time to ensure that any other features are released without delay.

2. Double learning loops:

Now, let’s take the same scenario (the delayed release of the software feature) and apply a double learning loop to it, examining the reasons for and assumptions behind the delay a little deeper.

You might notice, for example, that the software feature’s approval process is too lengthy, that you needed more team resources to hit the deadline, or that you encountered delays in the design, build, and testing of the feature due to unforeseen circumstances that inevitably delayed the feature’s release. By understanding exactly why the software feature launch was delayed, you can make organizational changes to prevent future delays.

3. Triple learning loops:

Let’s review the software feature’s delayed release for one final time and, this time, apply a triple learning loop to it to better grasp what can be learned to help future software feature releases. In this instance, you might accept that the delayed release was a consequence of unforeseen circumstances. But you still want to avoid any future delays from disrupting productivity, let’s say.

A triple learning loop will get the whole team involved to learn how people think and feel about why there was a delay in the release, evaluating the circumstances—for example, maybe there was too much pressure on one person or team—and how this can be avoided in the future through a better understanding of the processes and culture.

How to implement learning loops:

Given the rate at which organizations are forced to evolve, adapt, and innovate in today’s working environment, implementing L&D that actually works has never been more critical. For organizations to thrive in such a challenging environment, they need to develop strategies to continually improve their products, services, and cross-department processes.

Learning loops are essential to helping organizations collect, analyze, and act on valuable data and insights from colleagues and customers. They allow for vital feedback to be gathered, which will help organizations make better decisions in the future. By systematically integrating operational feedback, organizations can gain valuable performance insights, identify areas for improvement, and foster a culture of continuous learning & innovation.

There are three steps to successfully implementing a learning loop within any organization. These steps are outlined below: 

Step 1: Gather feedback

The first step is to gather valuable, specific feedback about the learning experience. You can distribute online surveys to participants via email, social media, or a URL link and ask them to provide personal feedback.

Be sure to keep our surveys simple. Multiple-choice answers take up little time, and participants are encouraged to spend a few minutes filling in the answers. Ask questions that are important to sustained business-wide success and continued growth.

Step 2: Review feedback

The next step is to review all feedback to gain insight into learners’ opinions of the learning process. You might uncover better, more effective strategies to implement, ways to pivot the course content to achieve a better outcome or even organizational benefits that you still need to consider.

Remember to review both positive and negative feedback and the causes and reasons why people share their feedback. You may also uncover repeated comments or ongoing issues that, once addressed, will drastically improve performance. 

Step 3: Use feedback

The final step is responding appropriately to all feedback. Remember, any feedback you gather is only as valuable as how you can use it to affect positive change. The fitting teams should take the right actions to effect positive change.

Regular reviews and the application of feedback will promote a culture of change. Honest dialogue will cultivate camaraderie. Transparent recognition of actions, together with clear goals for individuals, departments, and the business as a whole, will promote togetherness and foster loyalty and success.

Use learning loops, and you’ll achieve your goals!

Learning loops are the bedrock of sound organizational success. This circular approach, one that allows learners and managers to evolve, evaluate, assess, and continually improve training, will only enhance the quality of your L&D and organizational performance over time.

Conclusion:

You’ll be able to leverage learning loops to drive learner engagement and achieve an organization capable of scaling its operations to meet your business’s evolving needs.

Read also: IELTS Cue Card: Describe A Course That You Want To Learn.