According to the Cambridge Dictionary, workplace learning is defined as lessons or training that people receive while they are at work and that are paid for by their employer. In today’s technologically advancing world, we live in a society inundated with AI, Big Data, and automation. This technological cloud looms over the job scene and has created a sense of urgency in the need to modernize workplace learning.
Organizational designs in the workplace are being completely transformed as it seems the only way to thrive in today’s world is to embrace each and every opportunity to learn and adapt, and collaborate. According to author Daniel Pink, “This is the world of freelancers, consultants, project teams – the free agent nation. Hierarchical, command, and control organizations are becoming defunct. Which give way to more agile and decentralized networks of empowered teams.”
In the last 10 years, there has been a big change in the way that many people learn. Now more than ever, workplace learning plays (or is a critical factor etc) plays a critical role in the survival of organizations. The battle to find and retain the best talent will continue to rage with high demand technical skills like artificial intelligence, coding, and UIUX being in short supply. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Despite spending approximately $164.2 billion dollars on learning and development programs, many executives still grapple with how to improve and enhance their effectiveness. As research shows, the need to revamp and improve learning programs is an important concern among HR executives.” This amount of money leads to immense pressure to implement workplace learning and training.
This continuous skills gap will push organizations to transform their workplace learning practices to focus on pathways. There is no time to “design a course” for every skill-gap in the world and this is part of why pathways will help. In short, pathways allows organizations to build the skills of current in-house employees. By “reskilling” and “upskilling” their current talent, organizations remain relevant and foster an environment of continuous learning and development. By focusing on pathways, employees enable their own learning and facilitate career development.
With all of this being said, what can you do to bring your workplace more in line with modern day personal, independent learning? Here are the four main ways:
1. Update your existing approaches with technological advancements in mind:
In terms of connectivity, mobility and collaboration technology has advanced in leaps and bounds and many jobs that once required in-person interactions can be performed remotely. With modern workplace learning, we are no longer tied down to physical locations, you have to foster continuous learning in a format that is flexible and agile. Try applications like Slack or Asana. Test out ProSky’s pathway platform or even set up a team Skype account.
2. Utilize Big Data:
Big Data has infiltrated almost every aspect of modern life, and workplace learning is no exception. The extent to which we are all interconnected by technology has never been more apparent and although some may find this alarming, there are actually many benefits in the sphere of workplace learning and pushing it to become more modern. The ability to analyze large amounts of complex data is one of them. Technology allows massive amounts of data to be analyzed and organized in order to personalize and improve goods, services, and processes. It is for this reason that it is now possible to use Big Data to improve workplace learning and push it to the next level.
According to Allencomm, research shows that learners recall more when they are adequately challenged, and they are more engaged when the course material is tailored according to their learning preferences. “Big Data is a form of constant feedback that allows educators to measure students' understanding of, and responses to, the information being presented. That feedback has resulted in providing eLearning solutions to many of the most common problems in education, including the one-size-fits-all curriculum.” Digital learning technologies such as online learning systems and even gamification of learning systems constantly collect data and makes electronic learning adaptive and accommodating to the many different learning styles of individuals within a group.
3. Support all workplace learning, especially social workplace learning:
With an online platform, your organization can build social teams to help employees work and learn together, coordinates peer-to-peer learning activities and fosters social collaboration in person and online. “Collaboration” is fast becoming another buzzword and losing its impact. Like “Big Data”, “Collaboration” is a necessity in today’s technologically driven society. Complexity and constant novel challenges mean that workers will not be able to solve problems individually. Innovation in the workplace calls for collaboration, conversation, and diversity (enter all of the newly forming diversity teams in all of the industry forerunners). Inclusive and diverse communities of talented individuals do what computers and robots cannot: Collaborate to form new knowledge.
According to Jane Hart, the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, “This necessitates a shift from creating content to curating content, from designing courses to enabling collaboration, from conducting training needs analysis to sense-making across different context and bringing it all together. A successful organization today will be an amalgamation of different communities - some of these will be transient forming around projects consisting of multidisciplinary and cross-functional members. Other communities will be more permanent in nature forming around domains and practices to strengthen thought-leadership and innovation in key areas.”
With modern workplace learning, we are no longer tied down to physical locations, you have to foster continuous learning in a format that is flexible and agile. Technology encourages individuals to enact upon their own independent learning and provides a way to share and report on their activity back in the workplace. Not only does it facilitate individual learning, it also helps to build the modern learning skills required for continuous learning and personal upskilling.
By implementing and fostering such meta-learning skills, you will push your organization and improve your bottom line, through workplace learning. Individuals who wish to grow and add value to themselves and to their work will need to develop a different set of skills from what worked in the past. The past was driven by fixed knowledge bases, set ways of doing certain things, and a focus on increasing efficiency through task repetition, process improvement, and time management. Technical skills are crucial but never forget the importance of soft skills, the future will be driven by learning agility, effectiveness, and process innovation.
How has your organization begun the process towards modernizing workplace learning and training? Comment below! If you’d like to get your company set up on pathways and implementing your own workplace learning and training, schedule a time to chat with a specialist!