My take on the future of workplace learning

We are moving at the speed of light these days it seems, and the focus of this class has heightened my sensitivity to how our professional world is changing.  Here are a few of the things I think are likely to happen.

1.  Self-service learning will become mainstream.  Jane Bozart talked about workers bypassing both IT and the Learning department by bringing in their own devices, setting up internet connections and creating their own networks to share at work.  To remain relevant in this world, we’ll need to shape an environment in which these activities are not only sanctioned but encouraged.  As we’re able, we’ll need to help our organizations let go of the need to control that may have been relevant in the last decade but is no longer sustainable.  I believe we’ll be spending more of our time creating, moderating and/or participating in collaborative knowledge sharing networks.  We’ll be creating mega job-aids that will combine video, infographics, FAQs and connection to experts that can be used at the point of need.  We’ll be mapping network connections to see where the strongest and weakest connections are between individuals and workgroups; striving to enhance the former and find ways to facilitate the latter.

2.  Face to face, traditional learning will probably continue.  It’s likely to be focused on newer workers, however, with more experienced employees learning mostly from their peers and network.  More opportunities for blended learning with discussion groups, peer coaching and networking will accompany these formal programs.

3.  Instructional Design will become more flexible and streamlined.  Rather than reaching for the perfect design, we’ll move forward at the 80% level, trusting our learners and facilitators to “make it work” for their specific individual needs.

4.  Our methods for evaluating learning will probably change, too.  Level 1 evaluations may take the shape of Amazon-like ratings on courses, wikis, blogs, job aids, etc. that everyone can see – not just the learning department.  A natural selection process will keep the fittest learning resources alive and lead the others to extinction.  Testing knowledge retention through multiple choice tests will (and should) go away, replaced by video or other means of capturing and assessing performance practice.  And hopefully, learning professionals will be just as likely to accept credit for improved performance as the marketing professionals are to accept credit for increasing sales – even when there are other factors in play.

It’s an exciting time to be in the profession.  Change is coming; those of us who are observant, reflective, flexible and agile – and have a great professional learning network – will probably enjoy it.


3 thoughts on “My take on the future of workplace learning

  1. Thank you for highlighting your top four takeaways! I think the thing I like the most about your summary post and what also scares me the most is that any kind of knowledge retention testing through things like multiple choice tests will go away. I like it because I loathe tests like that, and it scares me because this is what I’ve been creating for ILT courses I’m developing now. Ahh! I’ll have to go back and rethink my ILT approach…again!

  2. What excellent observations. Just this morning I sat in a very long meeting (outside of my office) where I was able to discuss so many of the topics we have explored in class this semester. And it was tremendously satisfying to not see glassy eyes staring back. It was a conversation with colleagues whom I know are poised on the same brink where we are this semester–there are lots more of us out there who are ready. And for the first time in a very long time, I really think I won’t be watching, by myself, from the sidelines.. I have much more confidence that I can be the change… Exciting times!

  3. Hadn’t thought of the impact on evaluations but it makes sense. As we collaborate and share information and knowledge, the evaluation of those activities won’t be data that just a few get to see and then filed away not to be used. The satisfaction level will be public knowledge and people will use it to make decisions on what they read, buy, and who they network with.
    I could also see Level 2 for assessing knowledge gains changing. As informal learning grows, we’ll find our own ways of assessing ourselves. And as the social learning grows, the assessments will become part of that collaboration and sharing and we’ll help to assess each other. Look out learning world.. here comes everybody.

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