Challenges Of The New Learning Landscape

Every year new learning technologies hit the market with the promise of helping organizations achieve their business goals faster. Those tools are designed to meet specific business needs. According to a recently published research about the changing nature of the learning landscape, most learners feel empowered to learn, leverage their network, and also seek new ways to collaborate. In fact, the research showed a consistent trend in learners preferring to learn on the job in a just-in-time fashion. But there’s a catch. Carry on reading this to find out.

The above trends and preferences led to a flurry of activities. For instance, in micro learning, content is designed around focused chunks of information on topics mapped to a specific learning objective. These modules are typically 3-5 minutes long. App-based learning, mobile learning, social learning and a host of other deliver methods vied with each other for the learner’s attention. Learning could have never been so simple and easy!

The unfolding scenario was spurred on by organizations keen on increasing the number of learning channels they provided for their staff; they were focussed on redesigning learning to make it more enjoyable and simple. They worked under the assumption that “enjoyable learning” will lead to improvements in learning, application, and performance. However, this did not work out as envisaged. According to a Gartner study, the level of learning application was substantially lower in most of the organizations surveyed; in fact, only 37% of learning is applied on the job. Does this mean that almost two-thirds of learning is scrap? Does learning not equate to improved application and performance? So what is the solution to help increase the learner’s application of knowledge and improve performance.

New technologies such as gamification, competitive testing, blogs, social learning, and MOOCs may bring new content delivery and even influence when, where, and how employees learn. Although the new platforms may help in driving learner engagement, it has been found that they do not always lead to learning application. There is only one way to find out if learning programs are helpful in the application, performance improvement, and attainment of business results. The solution lies in measuring the influence of the learning programs.

Three common factors with measurable outcomes were determined to have led to increased learning, application, and performance improvement:

  • Learner motivation: Learners are driven by the belief that training is a worthwhile investment of their time for their career development and for their employer.
  • Quality of content: The materials, examples, and support tools for delivering training lead to a quality learning experience.
  • Instructor quality: Instructors who are high-quality classroom leaders are invaluable, especially if they can relate the learning content with anecdotal information and corporate examples.

It is important that organizations need to incorporate a dynamic evaluation methodology that works in tandem with learning technologies. Much of the learning technologies in the market are transactional and milestone oriented with a focus on compliance and reporting. The HR plays a critical role here in evaluating and gathering information to assess the effectiveness of programs and determine how they can be improved. Only when learners are able to determine the insights that align to the needs of the business, will they be able to create value. It is high time that organizations do a reality check about their learning programs and make the necessary course correction.

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