Tuesday, May 14, 2013

L&D's Role in the Future of Learning

I recently responded to the results of our workplace's people survey and made comment on the theme of development experiences as being one of the prominent areas that resonated with people, and wanted to share my response with my readers. The results made for an interesting read (but not for public consumption - sorry!) and I discovered quite quickly that the results aligned neatly with the research and the latest thinking in the learning and development field. 

There exists roughly two schools of workers when it comes to learning (roughly being the operative word, as there will always be outliers to any commonly observed behaviours). Most of us have classroom-based learning environments as our primary experience of learning, however some of us become true self-directed learners as we continue to develop, seeking to learn from others, to work outside our comfort zone, make our own connections and to judge the development we ‘get’ from the learning experiences we intentionally create for ourselves. 

On the other hand, some of us judge the development we ‘get’ as being accessed ‘out there’, from pre-determined content, pre-determined methods and pre-determined outcomes. Self-directed learners, making their own connections, inferences and tailored experiences, will almost always judge the learning they get as positive, and therefore their experience of work and their organisation as positive. Those looking for traditional methods of learning where someone else has already connected the dots and told them what they need to learn, will very often judge their experience of learning as being dependent on access to courses. This finding is echoed in an interesting newsletter by CCL faculty member Nick Petrie on a sabbatical year at Harvard: "Many people still have the sense that it is someone else's job to tell me what I need to get better at and how to do it."

I believe that there will always be a need for classroom-based learning experiences from experts who have conducted the research in their fields and have cause to share with others. However, although we in Learning and Development understand the 70.20.10 model intellectually, I think we still have some way to go in helping people make the connection that on-the-job (70% of our learning comes from this) and learning from others (20% comes from this) will always be the primary way to ‘get’ development, as opposed to seeking learning just from classroom (10%) experiences.

So how can Learning and Development find new ways to help people grow in their roles, get exposure to the right experiences and knowledge at the right time? We can do this by connecting people with new ways of learning, preparing, training and inspiring self-directed learners, improving our learning methods to enable the self-directed learner to thrive in the 21st century through technology-enabled informal learning, encouraging social media as an avenue for learning, fostering curiosity, peer-to-peer collaboration and a coaching culture and ultimately, continuing to educate people that learning, or the development they get, happens from experiencing all of these things.

"Continual, personalised learning is the key to individual growth and differentiation" as stated in a BigThink article on critical skills and learning methods for the 21st Century worker, and an essential ingredient in excelling in an unpredictable world. I believe access to external courses must be seen as just one part of the whole learning journey.

I would also like to mention the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies also has some interesting viewpoints and research on the future of learning.

So my question for my readers is what are you or your organisations doing to connect workers with new ways of learning?