(Photo by martin-dm/iStock by Getty Images)

Mary Vinette, the global head of learning and development at Technicolor Creative Studios, has witnessed a transformation in online learning over the last three years. With the rise of remote workspaces, the need for effective e-learning has grown paramount. Online educators have become digital strategists, while dull lesson plans, hour-long training modules,  and outdated instructional videos no longer have a place in today’s corporate space. “E-learning was like the future and people were like, ‘Ew, I don’t want to look at a cheesy video,’ and that was it. Also, technology wasn’t really helpful in doing virtual sessions. Well, the pandemic came along and boom, it’s over. Things changed,” Vinette said in a From Day One webinar titled, “Innovative Ways to Build Skills in a Hybrid Workplace.” 

While advancements in technology have led to progressive steps, Vinette said the power is in the development of condensed but engaging instruction and the creation of learning work cultures. “I saw the future of the workplace as being very different with technology,” Vinette said. “It forced us to do virtual training, and then shorten the time and then we all became the young kids who were getting their learning (from) YouTube in bites.” Among the best e-learning methods is “drip feed,” Vinette told moderator Lydia Dishman, a senior editor at Fast Company. Highlights from their conversation: 

Establish E-Learning Flow

Before conjuring new ways to increase skill building in a hybrid work environment, Vinette said it’s important to establish how the meetings and training sessions will proceed. While the conversation may seem remedial to some, she said it’s an essential part in a sustianble e-learning environment. “I think there’s a lot of people in the workplace who are like, ‘Come on, really? We’re talking about how to have a meeting?’ And it’s like, ‘Yes. Because people don’t like the meetings.’ There’s that.”

The ‘Drip Feed’ Method

As an educator–and occasional home gardener–Vinette has adopted the “drip feed” method, a learning process that uses a series of short informational videos or clips to administer information. The source of her freshly grown butternut squash was YouTube. Instead of reading books on home gardening, Vinette–like millions of other knowledge-seekers–watched how-to videos to get a grasp of an unfamiliar concept, and she’s employed the same strategy at the core of virtual training sessions. “E-learning has gotten a lot better,” Vinette said. “I think a lot of creators have really upped their game, and it’s quick, straight to the point and engaging.”

Focusing on skill-building in a digital world: Mary Vinette of Technicolor, top, and moderator Lydia Dishman of Fast Company (Image by From Day One)

Cross-Generational Differences

Dishman said there are signs of a cross-generational shift among online learners. In her experience, workers with more tenure and experience shy away from online learning far more than younger professionals. “The people who are most resistant to learning are those that have strong technical skills and feel they’ve reached a level of expertise that they don’t need to learn anything anymore,” Dishman said. “Like, ‘Just go away and let me do my job.’ And I mean I’m a Gen-Xer and proud of it, but I know that a lot of my peers feel like, ‘Well, OK, what are you going to teach me? I’ve been working for 30 years.’ So, I do think there’s a generational thing at play as well.”

Creating a Learning Culture

To bolster e-learning attendance and engagement, Vinette said it starts with creating a safer space for workers to seek educational resources. “If you want to have a learning culture, and you want to find all these innovative ways to learn, you’ve got to have safe spaces,” she said. “We got to be intentional, and I think we have to be rigorous about the process of how we do it.

Instead of mandated training sessions fit for company motives, Vinette said workers should also have the liberty to seek their educational resources on their own time. “If people become better humans, they’re going to be better employees. And they’re going to be happier and they’ll perform better,” she said. “We’re rehumanizing the workplace because employees are demanding it.” 

The Importance of Courage and Curiosity

Finding an instructional flow is only one-half of virtual skill building. After establishing a learning culture, Vinette said the second is having curious students that are eager to learn and strengthen their abilities. “Exercise your curiosity,” Vinette said. “Most people when I say, ‘Are you a curious person? They say, ‘Oh, of course, I’m a curious person and I love knowledge and all this stuff.’ But humans are hard-wired for certainty. They want to get it right and they want to know.”

Along with curiosity, Vinette said courage is a major factor in virtual skill building. “It takes courage to say, ‘I don’t know,’ or to say, ‘I’m scared,’ or anything else that’s true about yourself,” she said. “That takes courage. And I think these things are values for the new workplace that we can all strive for, and the training can support that and build it.”

Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner who sponsored this webinar, the coaching platform BetterUp.

Earl Hopkins is a culture reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. He’s also a freelance music writer whose words can be found in Complex, MTV News, GRAMMY.com, Stereogum, UPROXX and other publications.