09 October 2017

How to Modernize Workplace Learning

  • The Modern Learner
Author: Declan Mulkeen

If you’re in charge of workplace learning or know someone who is, look in your pockets for one of those ubiquitous black electronic rectangles. Then see if you can see someone at their desk typing on a keyboard hooked up to a monitor on their desk. This simple check is to make sure that you exist in a world where people use technology to carry out their professional roles. If you see these things around you, then you’re all set to modernize workplace learning.

Change in Mindset

Now think about how you receive most of your workplace learning right now. Visualize the scene. A medium to large sized room with chairs and tables pointing towards a whiteboard, a projected power point presentation, and a trainer.

Oddly, the only piece of technology in the room is controlled by the trainer while you might be holding a pen and a pad of paper. Not very ‘modern’ is it?

According to Bersin by Deloitte, the Modern Learner gives content no more than 5-10 seconds to grab their attention

Let’s Start with What People Seem to Like

Binge watching appears to be very popular. 70% of Americans Engage in Marathon TV Viewing, and 14-25-year-olds value streaming-video subscriptions to services like Netflix more than regular broadcast, cable or satellite TV.

Download a ‘box set’ of your favorite show and watch back to back episodes until you can watch no more. That’s how many people consume visual entertainment, not in the old linear and highly prescriptive way broadcasters want you to watch it.

Demystifying the Modern Learner

How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

Viewers have more choice, and a greater ability to change what they’re watching if they don’t like it. Likewise, according to Bersin by Deloitte, the Modern Learner gives content no more than 5-10 seconds to grab their attention.

They are also sourcing their learning content themselves with more than 70% using a simple search engine to find materials, compared to 50-60% who use online courses.1

It would be quite an achievement if organisations could engage with these search engines led, self-starter learners and direct their interest towards bespoke digital content. Content carefully curated by their employer or their employer’s training provider.

The Modern Learner Will Lead the Way

If workplace learning needs to modernize, then anyone in L&D or HR should understand who is learning. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to meet the Modern Learner, a professional who learns on the move, using technology to empower their development, with an entrepreneurial approach to development. The Modern Learner has even changed in the past few years.

The Modern Learner is also sourcing their learning content themselves with more than 70% using a simple search engine to find materials

They open their smartphones 9 times per hour, do 30% of their work somewhere else other than their employer ‘s location, and they‘re increasingly using their mobile devices to find just in time answers to problems. Yet these same employees have only 1% of their working week to focus on formal training and development.2 That‘s around 24 minutes of the standard 40 hour week!

It‘s enough though to use modern workplace learning approaches to develop their skills and competencies. However, It only works with the ‘right kit‘. The ‚kit‘ being the content, and delivery system. It‘s also fair to say that Modern Learners expect more than the traditional classroom or e-learning experience.

So where do they find what they need? It starts with yourself, not someone else.

Further reading

HR Technology Market Disruption: 10 Top Trends for 2018

The Rise of the Consumerization of Learning

Create a Binge-watch Culture with Modern, Digital Learning Content

Back to the concept of ‘Binge watching” and it can be seen as a useful indicator of how L&D can utilize a popular culture trend in encouraging the self-motivated consumption of training material. If training courses and bite-size development tools are available on demand and designed to meet the needs of the individual or ‘Learning Audience’, then Binge Learning has a chance of happening. Learners can easily “binge watch” training just as they might binge on the latest season of Game of Thrones.

This only works if L&D is mobile, on-demand, collaborative, targeted, and empowers learners to make their own choices.

Workplace Learning in Evolution

The modernization of workplace learning is easy if we use the technology that is already all around us, combined with an approach that empowers learners.

Handheld devices are one of the portals through which training should be delivered to your team, and instead of solely relying on a live trainer, the source of training should be a curated set of tools from video, remote trainer sessions, research, articles, or even whole courses. Live training will still be an important part of your modernized training, but your ‘trainees’ can potentially digest their learning program in chunks, whenever they get a spare moment.

Modernizing Learning is also about empowering learners to drive their own L&D, instead of leaving the driving to L&D and HR teams. The aim is to make training deliverable anywhere, pointed towards strategic performance, and a continuous process unrestricted by time-limited courses.

Sometimes evolution really needs a revolution. Is it daunting to some? Perhaps, but the move towards Modern Learning approaches is inevitable. Your choice is whether to chase behind the trend or ride the wave of change as a learning pioneer.

1 2 Meet the Modern Learner. Bersin by Deloitte

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