Training the way you knew it is dead

Get tips for creating virtual learning programs that are adapted for the future. Learn how to refactor programs for IT and the soft skills space. Clear the path for success by avoiding these common pitfalls of creating & delivering virtual learning experiences.

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Digital Adoption Talks E04

The quick overview

Most importantly, find out what’s almost always missing from instructors–and curriculum builders–skill sets and what kind of teams organizations need to put together to ensure outstanding virtual learning.

Virtual learning for software skills has seen a sharp uptick, with between 60-100% of existing virtual training predicted to stay that way.  

Learning is changing and training the way you knew it is dead. Take a dive into the instructional & design side of learning development with Louis Trahan (CEO Learngistics)

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The full transcript

[00:00:00] Talk with leading digital adoption expert Louis Trahan

Rick McCutcheon: Hello everybody. My name’s Rick. I’m my Dynamics 365 MVP, and I want to thank you today for joining us on digital adoption talks. Today there’s over 300,000 business professionals with digital adoption and their job titles on LinkedIn on this show. Along with my co-host Joachim Schiermacher, CEO of ClickLearn, we talked to some of the leading digital adoption experts.

In the Microsoft ecosystem This week, we are thrilled to be talking to Louis Trehan from the CEO of Learngistics. Louis and his team help organizations create and deliver fantastic learning experiences through live and virtual conferences. Virtual events, webinars, and roadshow. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us and introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Let’s start with you Joachim.

Joachim Schiermacher: Well, as you already presented me, I’m the CEO of ClickLearn. So we do digital adoption solutions specializing in the Microsoft Dynamics field. And we serve roughly 400 customers around the world. A lot of ISVs and a lot of Microsoft partners.

[00:01:03] CEO of Learngistics, focusing on IT space and soft skills

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Thank you Louis. You’ve got probably a, a lot of things you can tell us about your background, but I know you’ve been in the learning business for a while. So tell us a little bit about yourself.

Louis Trahan: Yeah, Rick, I’m the founder of Last Minute Trading , the CEO of Learngistics. Learngistics stands for the Logistics of Learning and what we do is we help people with all the logistics surrounding learning, whether that’s finding trainers, whether that’s running programs or bringing software in, whatever support they need, we help support.

And our focus is primarily in the IT space and in some soft skills.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, thanks Louis. So here’s our sort of, we’ll kick things off, talking a little bit about what’s gone on over the last couple of years. So, over the last couple of years, organizations went through some tough times and a few business disruptions.

They had to pivot from mostly doing face-to-face education to more of an option relying on a technology interface. What did we learn about learning over this period. Let’s start with you, Louis.

[00:02:03] Lessons learned from period of change

Louis Trahan: I think it’s, it’s been certainly a tough period for L&D to accommodate and change. And they have learned a lot of lessons.

The first lesson I think that they learned is that virtual learning is actually quite effective when it’s done right. Before Covid hit, there was virtual learning and, and people were struggling to fill seeds, struggling to get learners to adopt the technology, but now I feel that we’ve learned that, you know, if you do it right, it can be just as effective.

And we’ve had a few other lessons along the way as well. We’ve learned that, you know we insist on getting together in person because of legacy ideas, and we’ve learned that we now have to question those legacy ideas. Like, what is the true cost of pulling employees away? Why are we pulling them away?

What’s the opportunity cost? And all of these costs, and all of these questions have come to light because of this. platforms, the virtual learning that we’ve been doing. And I think from the actual learning and development side, for the, the instructional design side we’ve really learned that two things.

[00:03:02] Refactor learning for a digital format

One is that you can’t just take your live learning and move it virtual. Yeah, you have to refactor it. Everything takes a little bit longer to run virtually. You need more breakout rooms, you need more engagement. You need less time in between break. To keep your learners engaged. And I think that the second thing we’ve learned is that it can be very tough on instructors and facilitators to, they, they not only had to learn to use new technology now, but they’ve had to learn how to reconnect online, you know, count with their hands backwards so that it looks forwards and learn how to use the technology. And a lot of them been left kind of high and dry to do all of this alone. And it’s, it’s led to a bit of instructor burnout and fatigue. And the smart companies have learned to understand how to address that.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, thank you. Would you like to add anything about the changing s cenarios around words.

Joachim Schiermacher: No, I, I really wanted tell an interesting story. I had a talk with a large software vendor that wanted to go completely virtual on the entire learning experience.

[00:04:03] Don’t bring the restrictions of in-person learning to the digital space

They created sort of a very large academy experience. What they did was they brought in all the restrictions they had in the old school learning, right? The, the idea that you can only fit a certain number of people into the room, they actually completely brought that into a virtual space. So I said, there’s a maximum, we can have a maximum of 25 participants on this particular session where I immediately looked and thought, but why are we not extending that into servicing at a different time than we are actually conveying the content that we want people to understand. And create two different experiences around that in order order to get a better logistic. I don’t see the idea of inheriting all the bad things from the classroom drain, which is a limitation of the number of people that you can bring in.

Why would you inherit that in a virtual world? And I think that really goes to speak Louis, from what you said, that, you know, we can see that it’s not a one to we, we cannot, you [00:05:00] know, take the old classroom training and just say, look, we are bringing in one-to-one with the virtual idea. We need to rethink the way that we are doing it.

[00:05:06] Quick move to virtual learning

And I’m really excited about what, what you’re doing. Louis and I, I look forward to learning a little more on, on how you’re doing that practically.

Rick McCutcheon: And maybe Louis, why don’t we talk a little bit about that, because logistics was really born over the last couple of years and, you know, talk about how you were set up.

You know, instruction before Covid and then once it hit what happened?

Louis Trahan: Yeah, we went through a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. You know, we did exactly what Joachim was saying all. And it wasn’t us, it’s all the, the clients we were supporting who were running learning just kind of quickly moved it to virtual.

All of a sudden everyone was on Zoom or Teams or one of the other platforms just delivering like they normally do. And they realized that, you know what? You just can’t stick a camera and a microphone in front of a meeting and have that same knowledge. So they, they quickly realized, and what we’ve helped them do is refactor the programs.

[00:06:00] Tips for planning virtual learning

I mentioned a little bit of it in my the earlier question. You know, more breaks, more engagement, breaking it up. As Joachim says, you can have larger groups, but if you’re gonna have larger groups, then you have to build time for those groups to actually have the knowledge transfer. You have to have support for the for the instructor because it was hard enough in a live classroom to teach 25 people. Now if you’re gonna teach 50 and now you’re on a new platform, you need to have a producer working with you or a co-facilitator, someone who can help manage that technology just a little bit better. And I think they, what we really had to get through to people’s heads were, that’s a horrible thing to say.

Let’ s say one of the biggest thought changes we had to have was in the. In how often it had to be in what type of engagement would work online and they needed to think about how the instructors were going to be able to engage. And that’s why I mentioned earlier virtual producers.

[00:07:00] Instructors and producers work together to maintain focus

Bringing virtual producers in, help the instructor to keep the focus. To keep the connection, right? Cause anytime you move from, from talking like this and presenting to, oh, I gotta do a breakout room or something, you lose that connection with your learner. And if it takes you a few seconds, it actually feels like it takes you a few minutes.

So those were a lot of the things that we went through with our clients in the beginning trying to teach ’em, just get that mindset changed and to learn these new skills.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, great. No, I, I think that that’s exactly you know, where I wanted to go with it because, you know, you were teaching people in classrooms, I remember you were doing a lot of road shows with companies and all of a sudden it made a switch and, and people realized we had to find a way to, to do this.

And I recently, you know, worked with you on a presentation where I had a producer. And I tell you it was a huge difference than trying to manage that while I’m trying to manage my curriculum and and the students at the same time. So here’s the next question, and we’re gonna start with you again, Louis. How do you think these changes affected the structure and skill sets of trainers? I’m gonna add curriculum builders and learning organizations.

[00:08:00] The way you were teaching before isn’t going to work

Louis Trahan: Yeah, I mean, it’s sounding, I’m gonna sound like a broken record here, but I think the biggest thing that curriculum designers and and instructors both had to learn was you have to refactor the programs. Like that was just period. No matter what you were teaching before, the way we were teaching it live isn’t going to work.

Now you have to refactor and refactoring means, you know, breaking it up into smaller chunks smaller ring chunks. It means making sure you’re really doing engagement. And let me tell you, you need much more engagement than that. Instructors had to learn how to present on camera.

[00:08:36] Instructors need to be aware of how to conduct themselves on-camera

It really is different on camera. You, you can’t just walk around the room. You’re here. You got this little square to be in. You have to make that connection. And they had a much harder time connecting and reading. And I think most instructors have made that progression now. It’s been fun to watch.

[00:09:00] Virtual producers are a necessity 

And then the last learning, again, virtual producers are not a nice to have, they’re a necessary part of your team. If you wanna run an effective online learning program, you should be using a producer. And there was a, a study that came out recently from the Institute for Corporate Performance that showed that most of the high performing organizations that they interviewed, judged, or, or deemed that having a virtual producer is what made their learning more effective.

It was a must have. It wasn’t a an option. And I think we’re gonna continue to see that.

Rick McCutcheon: And that’s a good point because I know when I teach online it’s harder because I don’t see my audience and I like to use an interface where actually can see some audience who are sitting there and whether they’re not doing anything or not.

With a producer, you know, you’ve got a copilot, right? So if your slides go off, or if you go on mute or something happens, or one of the students comes off mute. They can handle it and it doesn’t kind of break, you know, stop the whole class and make you have to restart and stop over and over again.

So, Nope. You know, I think that’s a, a very, very good point.

[00:10:02] Instructors can’t do it all alone

Louis Trahan: If you were in a classroom and the PowerPoint or the projector wasn’t working, or the coffee machine was out a coffee, you wouldn’t expect the instructor to stop and troubleshoot. I stop and make a pot, but that’s what we get here. Oh, Rick’s having a problem.

Hold on, everybody just kind of hang tight while I chat with Rick and figure it. It just isn’t what you, what you want. And Rick, another thing about having a producer is, you know, you may be using teams 80% of the time for your training, but then you’re talking to a client who doesn’t want to use teams for some reason.

They want to use one of the others. And as an instructor now you have to move over to a whole new platform. So that’s where having a producer who produces on all the different platforms really helps you, you know, ease that stress.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, thanks. Joachim, let’s talk a little bit about, you know, how this online learning has really changed how we build curriculum and how organizations have to. I guess pivot to be able to provide ongoing? 

[00:11:00] Digital adoption solutions are entirely evolving right now

Joachim Schiermacher: I  think that, obviously this has been an extremely important time because we, what we can see is the entire evolving of the digital adoption solutions.

And that means basically in the raw sense, it’s a speech bubble. You bring a speech bubble to the screen and it will follow you and guide you through a particular process. Now, when I started, I think we are one of the very few that had that technology. Now they’re around 450 that have that technology.


 [00:12:00] People don’t learn with GPS-style functionality

Now, what they don’t have is all the remaining things around the e-learning platform, right? They don’t have the video content anymore. They, completely took that away and said, look, training the way you knew it is, and this is like the, the fifth time in my life I’ve heard the training is that nevertheless, I know that Louis is running relatively good business on training, so it’s probably not completely dead yet. It might be a little exaggerated. And I truly don’t believe that a speech bubble which is like a GPS will help you say that that’s a, transfer of knowledge. You will rely on that GPS to constantly work. Right? I don’t think we are getting any better to navigate our cast through the cities and find our ways.

[00:12:10] There’s no transfer of knowledge

If I tell ’em to go to 12th Avenue on and the corner of something, you’ll turn on the gps. And if you are left without the gps, you would not be able to find your direction. And that actually what, what indicates that there’s no knowledge transfer going. with a GPS system at the other end. Now, what the GPS system can help you do is that if you’re looking at those rarely performed processes that you will never learn, right, like time expense or your expenses, monthly expenses that you’re doing in your company, and you have that operation, you can do it 10 times over, but you’re only doing it once a month, you’ll never be able to transition that knowledge.

Doing your annual report, you’re doing that once a year. We are not gonna teach you how to do that now. That’s where I think that the speech bubble technology comes into play. The rarely performed tasks are really necessary. But I [00:13:00] don’t think that in any way constitutional knowledge trends. I think that’s a huge problem that we haven’t even seen the beginning of yet.

[00:13:06] What happens when the gps-style digital adoption solution is out of date?

The idea that we are saying that this constitutes training. So there’s actually a very good possibility that the entire, this is adoption solution is not up to date. And that means that the day your GPS doesn’t work, you’re gonna have a pretty hard time in finding home, right?

And that, that I believe is we are going to see a problem. So I think that in many ways, training is not, at all dead. And I think that, that we will see what Louis is doing for many years to come.

There’s a shorter attention span. Among the, the people that are learning now, there’s a high degree of that they want to self-serve, meaning that they want to be able to take content and learn on their own. So the kind of event driven thing that we used to do, we are much more going toward, you know, recording the sessions.

I’m sure you’re seeing the same Louis that you know, you have an audience. And the other half of the audience is actually now taking on the videos after the, the course is completed, right? So, I think that, that there’s definitely a transition now.

[00:14:04] The future of digital adoption

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Thank you. So, you know, you’re hitting on, you know, what that future of digital adoption is going to look like.

So, Louis, how do you see learning changing over the next decade?

Louis Trahan: So I think learning is going to stay primarily virtual or digital. There was a, that same organization, Institute for Corporate Performance put out a survey that showed, and they, they, they pulled organizations with more than a thousand people, so large organizations, but 69% that said between six of the respondent said between 60 and a hundred percent of their training or their learning will remain virtual.

And that learning is not only soft skills, but software skills. So what we’re really talking about when we talk about digital adoption. So I think that that’s going to stay. So we need to figure out how to address it. And I think Joaquim’s hit this right on the head. It, it is, I look to my own kids.

[00:15:00] Availability of on-demand style learning is important to digital adoption

 I have two younger kids and how they learn right now and when they’re doing assignments, they jump to Google and they search, you know, when was Plato born? And so they’re learning what they need to learn, when they need to learn and they’re not bothering to memorize a lot of stuff. And so I, I think this idea of the speech bubble technology, or we’ll call it on-demand guided bite size learning, whatever we want to call it, I think for digital adoption, it’s a really important tool.

And I think it’s what we’re going to have to provide for this next generation because they’re not gonna sit through. And if you even think about e-learning, which was like a cool thing 30 years ago or 20 years, E-learning, you have to still go through this structured approach to getting from A to Z and when really, what I really want to know is how do I do my expense report, which is right here.

[00:16:00] Updates mean that the learning needs to be updated every few months

And so being able to jump right to that is, is great. I think one of the other things that are gonna be challenging, and I’m pretty sure that Joachim has a lot to say on this, is that technology, because we’ve gone to this cloud-based technology, updates are being forced on you. So in the past you would buy a on, on-premise install of something like office, and you would know that you can train on Excel because it was gonna be the same for four or five years, whereas now you could get an update on some of this software every few months.

And as a, as a learning organization or learning department, organiz. for onboarding, for, for keeping things going. You have to build a, adapt that learning really quick. And so you can’t take like a eight hour course and adapt it. You need to adapt just those pieces. And so having the tools to do that, I think will become really important for the future.

[00:16:32] Off the shelf, vendor-based learning no longer enough

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Joachim, would you like to add anything about the future of learning?

Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah, I think that in many way it will definitely be the idea that off the shelf vendor based learning I think is going to be really difficult when it comes to these digital platforms. And that has to do with the way that we are composing our entire infrastructure.

[00:17:00] Businesses are unique in their composition

We are now selecting much, much bigger amount of, of applications inside our business. So that’s grown like 40% over the last four years when we look at large enterprises. So they have more applications and through the entire idea around the composable enterprise where you can basically, you know, take your business package capabilities and bring them in like bricks of Lego, you will to a last extent, actually be completely unique in every business.

And that means that it’s gonna be really difficult to pull something off the shelf and say, look, I’m gonna do this unless we are talking, you know, basic word skills and excel skills. But if you’re learning processes inside the business, they’ll probably take you across a number of unique, relatively unique systems inside your business.

At least the composition of those will be unique, and that will mean that I think that a larger training responsibility. Comes onto the enterprises and they’re gonna need help with that. So that’s probably where, where, where Louis will come into play and be able to facilitate that entire idea around the, the company that these are our four unique products.

This is what we need to  be trained in, and we need to be trained in the process that we are doing on those particular products.

[00:18:00] How partners keep on top of technology

Rick McCutcheon: And you know, so if we start to look at. As a Microsoft partner, and I’m implementing cloud solutions for my clients, learning has to become a much bigger part of my business than we would call it training before.

But it’s not just, you know, I’m gonna design a system, I’m gonna build a system, I’ve gotta build in digital adoption. So how does a partner go about that in, in changing their business to do that? Let’s start with you, Louis.

Louis Trahan: Well, I think they have to, first of all, you, you need to keep on top of changing technology, right?

You need to know what’s out there, what’s happening. You need to be aware enough to bring this to your clients before it becomes problematic, right? I think you need to continue to update and refactor the learning. So if you are the learning partner as you see these changes, you need to be proactive and, and you need to get in on it.

[00:19:00] Clients need options for learning 

I think you need to be able to provide affordable, effective learning to their clients. And that means having options, right? It could be guided learning, could be live, it could be virtual classes, it could be one-on-one. It even could be e-learning in some cases. But your role now is to understand how the changes in the technology are affecting your client’s business operations and how keeping abreast of that and keeping them up to speed with that will help the bottom line. I think you come to the table with a much bigger strategic role.

Rick McCutcheon: And I don’t think it’s, it’s no longer a competitive difference to be able to provide this. I think it just keeps you in the game to be able to provide this, and this is why we’re seeing 300,000 people with digital adoption in their, their job titles on LinkedIn.

 [00:20:00] Digital adoption is moving down through organizations

Louis Trahan: Yeah, and it’s funny, digital adoption, it’s been thrust on us, right? And, and we’ve been seeing this, this, this, you know, chart go up. I mean, digital adoption, how many people were knowledge workers 20 years ago versus now. And you know, we get a lot of calls for people for training. And in the last few months we’ve had an unprecedented amount of calls from people just wanting to learn basic computer skills.

So that, to me, says that digital adoption is moving down through the organization. Like even at the entry level, you need to have some basic computer skills. So I think digital adoption is just, I mean, it’s gonna become just more and more an integral part of what we’re doing.

And it’s not even a choice. Like it just has to happen.

Rick McCutcheon: And, and Joachim as the founder of ClickLearn and you have many Microsoft partners that are providing ClickLearn as a foundation. How is it important to a partner organization to have this offering when they actually deploy technology.

[00:20:43] Digital adoption offering keeps Microsoft partners in the game

Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah. I think I agree with you when you say Rick, that it’s no longer about positioning yourself against competitors. I think that it’s to a much larger degree question of simply being kept in the game. If you’re seeing the amount of digital transformation happening right now in the enterprises, it’s at a really high level, it’s the same IT department that’s driving those transformations.

[00:21:04] More services are required of Microsoft partners

It’s not a new completely new organization driving that through. It’s the same 12 guys that were there yesterday. We ask them to do 12 projects a year instead of five. Now, the problem with that is that, that a number of those services needs to be pushed towards the partner because otherwise it’s not doable.

And that goes for the adoption to a very large scene. They expect you to have a constructive idea around how are we going to digitally adopt to the platform and not just in terms of a training event. But also on how you, how you’re actually planning to make sure that we are the maximum performance inside the application that you’re delivering for us.

 [00:22:00] How do clients know their adoption system still works amid constant updates?

And, and we just see that pushback happening to the client. Now, we are on a SaaS platform as well, right? So evergreen updates coming through. How do we make sure that we, that, you know, our entire adoption system still works? How do we make sure that is kept current? We push it to the partners.  It’s their responsibility.

You’re gonna help us do that.

[00:22:05] Partners need to answer for digital adoption success or failure

 Rick McCutcheon: Mm-hmm. that’s a really good point because at one time if the partner came in and deployed the software and the software worked, it ran. You figured that, okay, the partner’s done. But I think it’s it. The software’s up and running because it’s in the cloud. Now my people need to use it.

So if my people aren’t using it, I’m staring back at my partner over the table. What’s the problem? You know, why aren’t they using it? Right? Yeah. It’s now the responsibility of the partner to have that.

Joachim Schiermacher: Remember we are on subscription models today, so we also lower the fee of getting out of something.

If we don’t like the smell of you in the room, we’ll get out. Right. It’s very easy. And, and that is something I, I think that, that the agenda needs to be pushed from the partner and the, the customers will require it.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Okay, gentlemen, you know, thanks for your time today.

[00:23:00] Where do we go with digital adoption now?

This has been a great discussion on learning and digital adoption. Louis, do you have any closing  thoughts for our audience?

Louis Trahan: Just one, I mean, we’re in a very unique position in L&D digital adoption right now. We’re at a crossroads and we have a choice to make. Did we go back to where were or do we start from where we are now?

So I just think that as an industry, we need to just start where we are now, continue with the path we’ve started, that it’s been thrust upon us and, and get better. I think going back right now is a mistake and so yeah, that’s my thought. It’s just start where we are now. There’s no need to go back.

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