Life-like Learning and Corporate Learning

Why are we always inventing new labels to describe learning? I find it unsettling. How is social, digital, “just-in-time”, micro, mobile, corporate, new, traditional learning any different than just…learning? And why? Do we have some sort of intrinsic “learning plan” that tells us to learn differently according to the label? Don’t we learn like we live?

We require context for just about everything we choose to do. Why do we accept learning without context? And in the L&D world, why do we create it? “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is an attitude that seems to have crept into the learning space, and we seem to be afraid to stand up and admit that we need to change. Yes, there are legacy courses, programs, investments, LMSs, platforms, tools. Yes, we worry that if the change is too drastic, we may be out of a job. When times are tough, L&D is the first to feel the pinch…

Let’s look at some statistics:

  • 70% of L&D professionals are not proactive about understanding how individuals in their organizations learn. It’s perhaps unsurprising that they struggle to engage staff. Look at this report from February 2016.
  • 88% of employees want to be able to learn at their own pace. Find more research here.
  • Workers spend about 1% of the average work week (37 minutes) on their employers’ training. However, they invest 3.3 hours a week on their own. Over 60% would put in even more time if they received some kind of credit or recognition. Find out more about how the current workforce learns.

We read all of the research, we discuss the statistics…and we still create irrelevant learning deliverables all the time. This “learning” is not connected to any competency or skill development. It does nothing to support the ultimate business bottom line, and yet we are always surprised when budget cuts target the L&D department. We treat corporate learning as a separate learning effort, outside of what our learners really need and what we as learning professionals should be striving for. It’s time for a change.

We live in a critical time. Corporations cannot progress without their people. And people do not advance unless they are emotionally connected to their goals. The Renaissance period and the Industrial Revolution were not made possible because people stood firmly behind the status quo, but because they fought against it.

We have to change from within. We need to rekindle the twin sparks of curiosity and collaboration. We need to embrace “corporate learning” and use our skills to show our clients that it is simply “learning”, and is an integral part of their employees’ life-long learning process. We need to start designing learning that is relevant, available, and motivating. We have the content. We know design. We need to create learning that our employees need, and maybe they don’t even know they need it. We should empower, not obstruct. We should engage, not preserve. We should learn the way we live. Who’s with me?