In my previous blog post, I introduced various theories of learning as well as the disconnect that seems to exist between teaching and learning. Building on this further, not only do we need to understand how we learn – we also need to understand how the way we learn is changing. The reality is that the way in which we learn is changing faster than ever before, and there are a number of trends which are behind this.

Millenials

 

Much has been written about the impact made by the “millennial” generation that is currently entering the workforce, so I don’t intend writing too much about this here. But I found a very good video on YouTube which demonstrates the traits of this generation, and the different approaches they take to life and learning.

There is a very important point scribbled on the back of a chair in that video. “If students learn what they do, what are they learning sitting here?”  This is a particularly important point, and underlines perhaps the most important consideration associated with effective learning – the importance of context. I will spend much more time on this topic in my next blog.

New talent strategies

Employees are more informed and empowered than ever before, and the “war on talent” is getting fiercer. With the proliferation of social media, sites such as LinkedIn and others make it easy for individuals to learn more about what it is like to work in an organisation, and with this increased knowledge employees are becoming more selective. And given trend toward having a number of different careers a single employee may have is rising fast, organizations are starting to feel the costs of higher staff turnover. Organisations are waking up to the importance of staff retention, and to their own “employer brand” value.

We are seeing a definite shift in the approach to talent development and retention in organisations, with much more focus on employee centric development planning. Clearly, learning strategies play a key role here.

Investment in usability

I’m guessing most people reading this are familiar with Amazon.com. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that not one of you has ever received formal training in how to use Amazon.com. With the huge rise of internet-based applications, with their intuitive user interfaces, many people are now banking, shopping, planning holidays, etc, in a myriad of different online systems, all without needing any training. With this ease of use out of the office, there is a growing expectation from employees that corporate systems adopt this simple user interface design. Users are starting to demand a “consumer-like” experience from corporate applications. What is this going to do to learning requirements, and the approach we take to educating users?

Learning everywhere

I wonder how many of you are reading this blog on a PC, and how many of you are reading it on a tablet or smart phone? Regardless, I am sure that most of you own at least one such device. Personally I have two smart phones and three tablets – and I have colleagues with many more devices than this. When at home, and I want to do something online, I don’t reach for my laptop – I’m sure that anyone with a tablet or smart phone will agree that the accessibility gained via these devices is much quicker (and therefore better??) than via a PC or laptop. So if we perform the online activities I mentioned above on our tablets or smart phones, why can’t we use these same devices at work? There is a definite employee driven demand for organizations to become device-agnostic, allowing users to use the devices that they are familiar with at home in the corporate environment. As a learning provider, the same device independence needs to be supported.

The convergence of so many trends is having a dramatic impact on the way we learn. When considering how your organization can evolve into a learning organization, all of these factors need to be considered. I know that I’m starting to paint a complicated picture of competing demands. The good news is that, in my experience, there is one constant to ensure effective learning occurs, regardless of the approach we use. This will be the focus of part 3 of this blog series.


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