Curated Insights: What does it mean to modernize workplace learning?

modernize workplace learning “We want to modernize our learning culture,” said the chief learning officer. Everyone nodded in agreement, but had absolutely no idea what a “modern learning culture” really is or how to build one. Sound familiar? L&D organizations in every industry and on every continent (except Antarctica of course) are having a difficult time justifying their value to operational partners because they have failed to keep pace with the changing workplace. The familiar tricks that worked 20 years ago just don’t have the same impact on the modern employee. In fact, today’s employees often take control of their own learning and leverage resources outside their organizations because the internal stuff doesn’t hack it. It’s time for L&D leaders to restore relevance by reimagining their role in workplace learning and performance.

For my June curated insights blog post, I have collected a few different perspectives on what it means to foster a modern learning culture.

The Evolution of Workplace Learning in a SlideShare Timeline from Jane Hart

Jane is my go-to thought leader when it comes to modern workplace learning, and its not just because is one of her awesomely informative websites. Jane has spent the better part of the last decade sharing insights into the future of L&D. In this blog post, she shares a collection of her past presentations on the topic via SlideShare.

Jane’s Learning in the Modern Workplace deck includes a pile of useful L&D principles culled from her research, writings and practical experience as well as the work of other industry thought leaders. There’s simply no way you can review this presentation and not walk away with a pile of useful ideas. The role informal learning must play in the modern workplace is of particular importance. L&D must shift its perspective from creation to connection using principles like curation and performance support to enable employees and scale learning opportunities.

When in doubt, look to Jane for great insights on what’s next for workplace learning!

The Consumerization of Learning from Yvonne Chen

How do you solve problems at home? Google, YouTube and Wikipedia, right? I’ve been making this comparison for years as a way to demonstrate real-world principles we must apply in our L&D work. This article from Chief Learning Officer magazine reinforces the idea that employee access to information has redefined the role L&D plays in workplace learning.

Rather than trying to control the learning experience, L&D must curate resources that provide just the right amount of structure to enable meaningful performance improvement. We must also be forward thinking in our content and technology strategies and leverage tools that help employees integrate learning into the workflow in highly personalized, adaptive ways.

You know how the family member with the remote control owns the living room? Well, our employees have the remote at work. L&D must provide content and resources that are worth employees’ time and effort or they’ll simply look elsewhere.

Invisibilizing Workplace Learning from Allison Rossett

For L&D to be effective, do employees even have to know it’s there? In this short blog post, industry thought leader Allison Rossett suggests that L&D should focus less on marketing its services and more on integrating its efforts into the operations it supports. Many organizations have spent the last few years trying to benefit from economies of scale by centralizing their L&D function and removing support teams from the operation. Unfortunately, this can reduce the timeliness and relatability of learning resources, as a small L&D team tries to support a growing audience with increasingly nuanced development needs.

Rather than bring L&D teams under a single roof, Allison suggests we move skilled people closer to the frontlines where they can better connect employees with valuable learning networks.  This decentralized approach will allow L&D to respond more quickly to evolving business needs. However, it will require greater delegation of trust across the L&D organization and less reliance on formal projects and hierarchy. If employees are learning, performance is improving and business goals are being achieved, does the operation have to know every single detail behind the role L&D played? Hmmmmmm ….

Mary Meeker’s Essential 2016 Internet Trends Report via TechCrunch

The annual internet trends report? What does that have to do with workplace learning? Well … EVERYTHING!

First of all, these trends are impacting our organizations every day. If we want to understand our businesses, we have to understand our customers. Furthermore, many employee learning and performance behaviors are driven by consumer technology. For example, while Snapchat isn’t exactly a super useful workplace learning tool, it is the fastest-growing social network in the world. Therefore, it will likely have a tremendous impact on people’s communication behaviors and preferences. L&D pros maintain constant awareness and practical understanding of trends in everyday technology so they can apply similar approaches in their work. This can help employees leverage the same learning, communicating and problem-solving behaviors they use at home while on the job.

Mary Meeker’s annual report covers a wide range of technology trends. Be sure to check out her insights on social platforms (slide 71), video (slide 75) and messaging (slide 97).

That’s just a quick exploration of what it means to modernize the role of L&D in today’s workplace. Be on the lookout for our upcoming Escape the Time Warp eBook in which we’ll share principles and tactics you can use to support your modernization efforts. And be sure to come back in July for my next curated collection on a new theme from the world of workplace learning. For a behind-the-scenes look into my curation efforts, follow me on Flipboard, where I post new articles on a variety of L&D themes every day.

Written by JD Dillon

JD is one of the most prolific authors and speakers in workplace learning today. His practical approach integrates science, technology, storytelling and pure common sense to enable employees, improve performance and drive business results. For 20 years, JD has executed strategies for global organizations, including The Walt Disney Company.

Looking for more information? We’d love to talk.