Becoming A Digital Business Requires A New Approach To Learning

As organizations strive to keep pace with digital business requirements, they will need to update their outdated approaches to learning and development. But making these changes real for your organization requires significant changes to legacy learning and development programs.  Employees will need to interact with new technologies as they execute on their daily routines, and will need to learn new skills in areas like design thinking and applied insights.

A new approach to learning will require more personalized learning, which is quite a different approach from the traditional classroom learning approach.  I believe several factors are driving the change:

  • The pace of change in business is accelerating the pace of change in learning. The traditional approach of a three-month process to design, develop, and deliver content-centric learning is at odds with the increasing speed of business. Traditional learning is too slow for the pace of change, and it does not fit the work style of today’s workers. They need learning they can get quickly and at the time they need it. Mike Pino, Senior Learning and Technology Specialist at GE noted, “We won’t consider any learning vendors that can’t do mobile. Our employees need just-in-time learning that they complete when it fits their schedule.”

  • Changing workforce demands create less time for learning. With all the responsibilities workers have, there’s little time for long learning sessions. Workers are on the go, and need control over when and how they learn – whether between meetings, in the evening, from a mobile device, via video. This challenges L&D staff to provide learning in more relevant ways. Catherine Day, VP of Workforce Enablement Solutions for Metropolitan Life said “We want to give employees the opportunity to access information 24x7. Our mantra is bite sized chunks consumable anytime anywhere.”

  • Millennials have pushed for change . . . but their issues affect all workers. Three-hour classroom lecture sessions or one-hour long eLearning sessions of reading and clicking the “next” key are no longer the norm for learning, especially for Millennials. Even though these young workers rate learning and professional development as the top benefit they seek in joining an organization, they do not tolerate a traditional approach. And it’s not just Millennials today. Catherine Day notes, “Employees are trained as digital consumers to want everything, everywhere, anytime. Enterprises struggle with this, but it’s not an age issue, it has more to do with the changing times.” Heide Abelli, VP of Product Management at Skillsoft adds, “We need to look at the way the workplace has changed and the way workers have changed overall, not just Millennials.”

  • Technology explosion creates a dizzying array of learning options. As new technologies emerge, L&D is faced with deciding what media approach is best for particular learning content. Kelly Palmer, Future of Learning Evangelist at Degreed, states, “Corporate learning has been slow to adapt. There is no way we can avoid the fact now and we need to change the way we do L&D.” Machine learning, virtual worlds, content curation, and microlearning are all different approaches to learning that allow more flexibility and creativity but also provides a greater challenge in content design, development, and integration into online learning environments.