Is modern learning only about buzzwords?

You must have heard the modern learning buzzwords: agile, embedded, micro-learning courses that are gamified and social. And how about creating learning journeys enhanced by artificial intelligence to empower people on their learning paths?

All of these capabilities and concepts may be useful, interesting and perhaps effective. But at the end of the day, what are we really after in modern learning, beyond the buzzwords?

modern learning

Measurable results

We want to know that our modern learning efforts are improving employee performance. We want to increase customer success, support and enhance the culture, and help reduce risks for the company. Positive outcomes that align with and drive the goals of the business is our aim. That’s a modern learning culture at its core. These are very worthy goals, and for the first time in history, these outcomes can be tracked and to some degree of accuracy and measured against training programs.
This is not a one-and-done exercise, but rather, a process. And, like any process, it requires steady effort over time.

Expectations are changing

The process for achieving results starts with examining who our learners are and what they expect. This is critical because their expectations have changed—even in just the last five or so years. For starters, learners are actively seeking more learning. They expect to be able to “pull” it, meaning that they can access a wide range of courses on demand, rather than only doing required “push” courses. What’s more, workers want to design their own destiny and create custom learning paths that propel their careers and spark their interests.
Today’s workforce places a great deal of value on learning. It’s time we meet our learners where they are.

Modern learners must adapt and learn new skills faster than any time in history. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average time spent working in a single job is now only about four years. That number shrinks to two years or less in the top 10 tech companies. People are reinventing themselves more frequently than generations before and will have to do so many times in the course of their careers.

Also, it’s a mobile-first, remote, globally dispersed worker world, and learners are demanding training be available in the palm of their hands from anywhere. Add changing workforce demographics (Milennnials and Gen Z joining the workplace) to the mix and you see the fast changing shape of the modern learning landscape.

modern learning

What to do now?

We have learned that L&D jobs matter more than ever in driving the goals of the business. And we know who our learners are and what they expect. The next challenge to address is conveying what we know (to some degree) to the rest of the organisation. Some quick tips to share the value and importance of training:

  • Put on your sales hat. Become the champion of your own programmes and commit to selling the value of training as a competitive advantage.
  • Meet with managers. Discuss the importance of leading by example and buying into the training vision. Without their support, you’re fighting an unwinnable uphill battle.
  • Nurture these leaders. Get frontline leaders more involved in determining the training needs and potential skills gaps on their teams.
  • Promote the value to individual contributors. A trickle-up approach can earn key advocates from within your team.

Work with team leads to set a baseline for what you plan to measure, whether that’s team or individual performance goals, or tracking skill sets that support larger company goals. The reporting functions in your learning management system will be your most valuable tool for measuring the outcomes that matter to your organisation. Again, be sure to get key stakeholder buy-in on what you’re tracking and why.

All the above is key to building a modern learning culture.

Read also:
If you can answer one of these learning questions with yes, this is for you
Opportunities for learning organisations
Learning as a strategy: the secret to organisational success?
New L&D business models (with video intro)
2018 workplace learning in a nutshell (VIDEO)
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