#CLNWeek 2016: Learning in an External Content World

Posted by Craig Schwipps on November 11, 2016
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Corporate Learning Week

Readers, this week I was fortunate enough to attend Corporate Learning Week (CLW), and what an amazing opportunity it was to go interact with attendees and hear the concerns and priorities many organizations are facing in the upcoming year. I’d like to share some takeaways with you that I hope you and your organization can use as we move into 2017.

With it being Corporate Learning Week, a recurring topic and discussion piece was, what else, learning. Many speakers and attendees stressed that the learning environment in organizations must be adapted to keep pace with the “modern learner.” According to Jason DeLeon of Xerox Learning, “In less than four years, 75% of the workforce will consist of millennials and Gen Zers.”

These modern learners have different expectations of the learning available to them. They expect a choice, an experience that aligns with their personal and professional goals. They expect a learning experience that is:

  1. Untethered
  2. On-demand
  3. Collaborative
  4. Empowered

This leaves us with a big question: How can we build the learning ecosystem the new learner needs to thrive? A successful learning ecosystem needs to connect at all levels to a broad range of content, technology and processes. Casper Moerck of Siemens suggests that a key component to this solution is technology. “We live in an external content world.” Everyone is always on their phone, tablet, laptop or Bluetooth. CLW even had their own app where we could follow the agenda and view an activity feed to connect with our fellow attendees. Technology is in our day to day life and it has enhanced the idea of faster accessibility and communication. “I want things quickly, how I want it and wherever I want it.”

Our team heard it all day at our booth. “Do you offer virtual training or online training?” It’s a shift from traditional learning that many organizations want to happen and needs to happen as they try to get new learners established in their respective cultures. We have stated it in our blog before, but virtual training can be very beneficial and practical for global organizations attempting to impart new information on hundreds of employees.

Technology-based learning has sometimes been viewed as “dehumanizing,” but Sara Mineau of State Farm advocates it depends on how you USE that technology. Technology-based learning has the ability to enable engagement and bring a “fun factor” new learners may latch on to more easily. I’m not saying it should be a virtual reality experience with 3D graphics and nonstop videos, but rather a form of content that creates realistic stories, scenarios and situations applicable to the real-life job. It needs to be relevant and create discussion and business thinking. It’s all about the experience.

As you think of your own learning ecosystem and how to possibly adapt it, remember these three things.

  1. Think learner-centric
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Keep it relevant

Thomas Spahr, VP of L&D with Home Depot echoes this philosophy. “Innovation is fun, practical innovation though. Simple, relevant, effective and connected.” It must always be about the learner and the relevance to their goals. Regardless of whether you utilize technology-based learning throughout every step of learning development, make sure to leave space for insight and self-discovery for the learner. When learners are given the proper ecosystem to thrive in, they will choose the path to succeed and drive the financial results you want to see in your organization.

I want to thank all the attendees, sponsors, event coordinators and speakers that were at CLW for a wonderful experience and great learning opportunities.

Topics: Learning Development