Beyond Buzzwords: The Down & Dirty Realities of Modern Learning

We all know the latest L&D buzzwords, don’t we? You may be building an agile, embedded, microlearning course that’s gamified and social! Or, are you creating learning journeys enhanced by artificial intelligence to empower people on their learning paths? Ok, that’s all fine and good and fun. But, while all of these capabilities and concepts may be useful and effective, and at the very least, interesting to talk about, what are we really after—beyond the buzzwords?

We Want Results

We want to be able to prove that our efforts are driving outcomes like better employee performance, more consistent customer success, a more energized culture, and reduced risks for the company. We want to know that our programs are aligned with and positively affecting the goals of the business. In fact, the 2018 HCM Outlook by Brandon Hall Group cites that 76% of companies see aligning the learning strategy with the business is an important or critical priority for achieving business goals. That’s what modern learning is all about!

ATD-Litmos-BeyondBuzzwordsWebinarWe recently co-hosted a webinar with ATD on this very subject, so if you’d like to hear my full spiel, please check out the recording of “The Down and Dirty Realities of Modern Learning: Beyond Buzzwords.”

Expectations Have Changed

The process for achieving results starts with examining who our learners are and what they expect. This is critical because by and large their expectations have changed—even in just the last five or so years. For starters, learners are actively seeking more learning. They expect to be able to “pull” it, meaning that they can access a wide range of courses on demand, rather than only doing required “push” courses. What’s more, workers want to design their own destiny and create custom learning paths that propel their careers and spark their interests.

In fact, ADP research shows that 65 percent of employees report wanting as much training as possible to help them achieve their career goals. This suggests that today’s workforce places a great deal of value on learning. It’s time we meet our learners where they are. I see this as a positive and exciting change, and hope we can rise to the occasion and provide the education that modern learners want, in the ways that they want it.

Modern learners must adapt and learn new skills faster than any time in history. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average time spent working in a single job is now only about four years. That number shrinks to two years or less in the top 10 tech companies. People are reinventing themselves more frequently than generations before and, according to the statistics, will have to do so many times in the course of their careers. The World Economic Forum cites that “…35 percent of the skills that workers need—regardless of industry—will have changed by 2020.”

Plus, modern learners want to be untethered from the office and the desk. They want to train from any device at any time. This isn’t news, of course. We all know that it’s a mobile-first, remote, globally dispersed worker world, and learners are demanding training be available in the palm of their hands from anywhere.

Changing workforce demographics also add to the shape of the modern learning landscape. Research shows that Millennials (anyone born between 1981 and 1996, or ages 22-37 in 2018) will comprise more than one of three adult Americans by 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. This means developing training that appeals to and engages people who may have grown up with technology at their fingertips—an IBM PC (1981) or the first Apple Macintosh (1984) was always in the house. They likely consumed a steady diet of Nintendo and MTV, too, which is why gamification and video should certainly be in your training playbook, if they’re not already.

So, we know our L&D jobs matter more than ever in driving the goals of the business. And we know who our learners are and what they expect. The next challenge to address is conveying what we know (to some degree) to the rest of the organization. That’s key to building a modern learning culture, which among other things, requires a new dedication to reporting and analysis.

For a deeper dive into moving your L&D function beyond buzzwords and shift focus to the realities of modern learning, please check out the recording of “The Down and Dirty Realities of Modern Learning: Beyond Buzzwords.”

Lastly, mark your calendar for our live session at the ATD 2018 International Conference & Exposition, on Sunday, May 6, 2018 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Room 23A, where we’ll delve even deeper into this subject matter.