An Example of eLearning for Soft Skills

To wrap up this series of postings about eLearning Soft Skills (see eLearning and Soft Skills: What Went Wrong? and New Directions in eLearning Soft Skills), I want to share some great examples of content that will spark your own thinking. For companies that don’t have the resources to jumpstart their own course designs, you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel. Luckily, lots of people have been putting time and effort into designing eLearning content for soft skills, and the State of Michigan is making theirs available to anyone and everyone.

An Example of eLearning for Soft Skills

Here’s the run-down:

eLearning Soft Skills Program: Pure Michigan Talent Connect

The State of Michigan wants its workforce to be ready for anything in the 21st century, and that means making sure people are up-to-speed on soft skills. The program of fourteen chunks is available on the web and includes the following single-concept modules, each of which comes with important personal assessments and learning evaluation:

Communication

  1. Humility. This is about being approachable and authentic, as well as remaining open to different ideas, approaches, and opinions. It includes a DiSC assessment for your personality profile.
  2. Communication. To be a good communicator, you need to understand different styles, and know which is your own preferred style.
  3. Conflict. While conflict is inevitable, knowing how to handle it so it doesn’t get in the way of productivity is key.

Critical Thinking

  1. Ethical Character. You need to know your own core values and how they shape your character.
  2. Personal Judgment. Exercising good judgment is one key to better decision-making.
  3. Problem-Solving. Techniques for how to go about solving problems.
  4. Time Management. This is about avoiding procrastination and making optimal use of limited time.

Collaboration

  1. Diversity and Inclusion. How recognizing and honoring diversity leads to workplace success.
  2. Self-Confidence. Your own level of self-esteem and pride in your work is important.
  3. Teamwork. Know how to be a part of a team working towards a common goal.

Creativity

  1. Positive Attitude. Being positive at work is contagious. How positive are you?
  2. Initiative. Taking a proactive stance can lead to great opportunities.
  3. Flexibility. How rigid are you at work? How comfortable are you with change and ambiguity?
  4. Work Ethic. Success in the workplace depends on being diligent, reliable, and productive.

This is a brand new program that was just launched in April 2014. The group of mini-courses was developed by a partnership effort between Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s talent team, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, and Marr Professional Development Corporation. It was the 2013 Governor’s Economic Summit that revealed how soft skills were an identified area of concern among the state’s employers, a concern that is well documented by many studies.

Staffing company Adecco conducted a survey of 500 senior executives, which revealed that fully 44% believed that workers lack expertise in soft skills to succeed in the workplace, whereas only 22% were concerned about technical skills, only 14% were concerned about leadership skills, and only 12% were concerned about software skills.

SEMCOG and the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition played a key role in shaping the content of the modules based on their report, Lifelong Soft Skills Framework: Creating a Workforce that Works. That’s how the program ended up with fourteen modules in the four broad categories of Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Creativity.

The collection of modules adheres to the previously identified new directions in eLearning soft skills – including bit-sized chunking and thin-sliced single-concept rapid learning. It’s a great example of government realizing how it can do its part to help shape a workforce that can succeed in the 21st century.

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