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Monday, August 31, 2009

Trends in Learning

Someone was just asking me about the big trends in learning and the implications of those trends on corporate learning and development.  I initially said - "Look at my blog," but when I looked, I realized it might be a bit harder than I thought to pull out the central themes.  So, here's a bit of a compilation of some of the things I've been talking about in my blog which points to some of the major trends in learning.

Environmental Changes

Some of the common trends I discuss in presentations are:

  • Decreased L&D budgets
  • Faster pace
  • Increased workforce mobility
  • Shorter job tenure
  • Increased job fragmentation - fewer numbers in any one role
  • Constant increase in complexity
  • Greater concept work
  • Need for faster proficiency
  • Changing expectations for learning

The bottom line is that Learning and Development needs to do more with less these days or they will be marginalized

And the risk is pretty severe as described in the Business of Learning

Trends in What L&D Organizations are Doing

As a result of these trends, some L&D organizations are looking to social and informal learning.  Training Method Trends suggests that social learning tools are beginning to take off.  This will be a slow evolution.  And surveys such as Web 2.0 Applications in Learning suggest that this will be scattered.

There's considerable discussion throughout my blog around topics that relate to social / informal / learning 2.0:

The whole social / informal / elearning 2.0 discussions implies some very Disruptive Changes in Learning.

In Long Live, I discuss how we are not talking about eliminating instructor-led, but that organizations are looking at alternatives.

The whole problem is Long Tail Learning. There is just way too much stuff that people need to learn that we have to make choices about what we spend our time publishing into formal learning events. The audience has to be large enough. As concept workers, we quickly go past formal learning opportunities. There's no course on what I do every day. And you cannot Separate Knowledge Work from Learning.

One option is to say that limit of training / workplace Learning Responsibility is formal learning. Once you go beyond formal learning, then there's an immediate question of what else you will provide. I know from Data Driven performance improvement solutions that often informal learning can be very effective in driving results. To me, the answer is pretty clear. You've got to look beyond formal.

The Result

When you look at Examples of eLearning 2.0, none of them individually seem all that radical.  Many organizations are using SharePoint to implement these kinds of solutions.

But when you look at the difference in control in Learning 1.0 vs. Learning 2.0, it's a pretty radical change.

There are significant opportunities around Online Coaching.  I'm hearing more on this all the time.

Examples of how social and informal learning is happening in the consumer space:

Approach to learning strategy needs to be different: Learning 2.0 Strategy

You need to think about systems quite different: LMS and Social Learning 

You have to prepare workers for web 2.0

L&D professionals and organizations having changing roles and responsibilities:

Other Thoughts

In Corporate Training, I look at the challenges learning and development organizations face in heading towards these kinds of solutions.
There are lots of possible Objections to making this happen.

Social Learning Measurement is still an issue.

Corporate Policies on Web 2.0 are emerging.

Desired Learning Outcomes may differ based on these changes.


John Hathaway said...

I think we're going to start seeing some backlash on the "do more with less" idea. At VMG, we're starting to talk about "do less with less".

(see )

It's not about DOING more. It's about being more effective. Many times the easiest way to use your resources more effectively is to just stop doing traditional things that aren't delivering results.

Scott Hewitt said...

I think that one of the big trends that is emerging is Game Based Learning. As new employees join businesses from university, college and school they have a different view of how they want to learn.

We've already seen the benefits of using Brain Training to improve basic numeracy and the use of games in industry is becoming more commonplace.

Tony Karrer said...

@John - great point.

@Scott - I would agree with you that there are places where learning games make a lot of sense. However, I'm not sure how much that's really going to be.

V Yonkers said...

Scott, I just read an article in the financial times that said that the Chinese market is the largest growing social network in the world. But they aren't using Facebook, Twitter etc... The majority come into social networking through gaming sites. I wonder if the opposite will happen or if we will begin to draw in different populations by using gamed based learning (i.e. social networks will feed game based learning sites).

Spring2Life said...

Nice to see this aggregated in a single post. I think many training departments will need to also work more intentionally to build more meaningful partnerships with key individuals across the enterprise to help manage and develop content for web 2.0 platforms; especially within a model that allows SMEs to shift rapidly into instructional content creation when needed and then to "snap back" into whatever role(s) they normally have.

I think this will force more of a facilitator role for those dedicated to a training dept and will also widen the involvement of the SME. I saw this occur out of necessity while at several tech company training departments and can imagine this model becoming more commonplace.