Traditionally, most companies end the year with a letter cataloging important lessons, reflections, and observations from the past 12 months. This year, we’re going to do something a little different.
It’s not that 2021 wasn’t full of challenges and milestones — it was, and the past year was nothing short of remarkable for Arist. Our team grew three-fold, our revenue and customer base grew ~10x, and we delivered over 25,000 courses to students in need globally. We also had our fair share of hiccups (delivering messages is harder than you’d imagine).
But, at the end of a crazy year, it has never been clearer to us that we’re on the precipice of a major shift in the way we learn, and we wanted to take some time to explore the future together.
Let’s start with some context. Today, enterprise learning has a few key challenges:
At the same time, meaningful learning experiences have never been more important or in-demand. So what’s going wrong?
Unfortunately, despite working really hard to create great learning experiences, modern L&D teams are severely limited by the way learning is delivered. Currently, most digital learning is delivered in one of three ways — a live instructor-led session, a pre-recorded video, or an interactive clickthrough — all of which share a few core issues:
All of these issues can be tied to one root cause: learning isn’t meeting people where they are.
To go through a learning experience today, an employee has to break their flow of work, head over to their LMS or LXP, find the right course and module, and complete a series of activities over the course of an hour or longer. On average, an employee has to go through over 7 clicks just to access content — and that’s after they’ve found time to learn.
All of this assumes that the learner has access to an LMS, laptop, and a good internet connection (not a given for over 20% of Americans), and that the learner was either selected for a learning experience or opted-in to a resource provided by their employer (both rare occurrences).
For modern-day employees, engaging with learning is immensely difficult because it just doesn’t meet them where they are. In a world where everything else comes to us — our work, our entertainment, and even our food — it’s time that learning does as well. Thus, the future of learning is simple but absolutely critical: we need to bring learning to the people.
So, how do we meet people where they are?
At Arist, we’re focused on developing tools that help companies, nonprofits, and governments bring learning to their people — one Slack, Teams, and text message-based course at a time. As a result, over the course of 2021 we’ve gotten a glimpse of just how transformative meeting learners where they are can be. A few of our favorite examples:
Today, we spend over 50% of our time at work in messaging tools (like email, SMS, WhatsApp, Slack, and Microsoft Teams) and less than 2% of our time in an LMS or LXP. As a result, we truly believe that one of the most effective ways to bring learning to the people is through message-based courses, which typically consist of interactive bite-size lessons spaced out over the course of a few days or weeks (try one here).
By bringing learning to the communication channels we use the most, a few really important shifts happen:
As we look towards the future, meeting employees where they are via message-based learning has a few other major benefits.
First, new text-based AI tools like GPT-3 make AI-enabled course creation a reality, with AI already helping develop message-based courses over 500% faster in internal tests. Furthermore, AI can enable more in-depth feedback for learners as well as real-time course creation feedback for educators based on prior data.
Second, content and skill-building can become truly modular. Every message-based course consists of a series of bite-sized lessons and exercises strung together, which is far more similar to how humans actually learn complex subjects like neuroscience or build skills like leadership. In the future, different combinations of lessons could be pulled together to rapidly create new learning experiences, and lessons could also be intelligently resurfaced as skill gaps come up. The atomic unit of learning becomes smaller.
And third, because learning can now be just one message away, employees can easily pull knowledge and build skills just by texting a phrase in their communication tool of choice. A salesperson that wants to upskill themselves on a new product line can instantly pull a multi-week learning journey customized to them and delivered in between sales calls via Teams, while a cashier that wants to upskill themselves on becoming a manager can instantly pull a learning journey delivered on the bus ride home via text message.
We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg. As L&D teams focus on meeting people where they are, the resulting learning outcomes will be transformative, enabling a new era of growth, development, and performance. At the same time, everything about the way that we create, deliver, and track learning will dramatically change, from the speed and cadence of learning experiences to the amount of data that we capture. We believe that this shift will meaningfully define the way we learn over the next decade — and we couldn’t be more excited.
Today, hundreds of millions of learners lack access to high-quality digital learning experiences, while hundreds of millions more lack the bandwidth to learn. As a result, we believe that making learning more accessible and frictionless is one of the most important challenges of our time.
In 2021, we learned one key thing: bringing learning to people changes everything. So let’s make 2022 the year of making learning human-centered and beautifully embedded into the flow of work and life. Let’s make 2022 the year of bringing learning to the people.
Here’s to an incredible year ahead,
Michael, Ryan, and Maxine
P.S. Arist started as a way to deliver learning and training in the Yemeni conflict zone. One of our inspirations was a student named Mohammed Al-Adlani, who helped us understand the limited internet bandwidth that many students in Yemen face.
One of our 2021 highlights was finally meeting Mohammed in-person — proof of how much learning can bring people together.
To learn more about Arist and meeting learners where they are, schedule a demo or conversation with us here.