The World of New Learning

On the shift from traditional learning to digital learning.

Eeke Smit

Remember being in a huge traffic jam just in order to follow that one training? And next tday your manager asking “And, how was it?” And you were most enthusiastic about the extensive lunch which you received in the break? That time has passed. The world of learning and development is in full swing. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), blended learning and self-controlled learning are totally hot in learning land, not mentioning informal learning and social learning. We’ll take you by the hand into this world of new learning.

The learning landscape

The familiar ‘traditional’ form of learning in which you come together with a group to follow a training isn’t the norm anymore. Online learning is inherent to the contemporary learning landscape. Learning happens more and more continuously, long-term and melts together with our daily actions. Following a course or training can be done in several ways, ranging from traditional learning (in a classroom) to one-to-one learning or online learning. It’s not uncommon that professionals share their knowledge with their colleagues, face to face for example, or through videos and podcasts. In short, endless opportunities, but how do you as an organisation react to this?

We aren't talking about the shift from learning traditionally to online learning, but from learning traditionally to experimenting.

Online learning, the advantages listed

Let’s start with explaining why online learning is so enormously popular. Online learning is inherent to both business and education. Research from among others MIT points out that the results of online learning are better than those of traditional learning in a classroom. Besides refining and enriching the knowledge continuously, online learning offers changing dynamics, both within and outside of the organisation. It has thereby three important advantages for the employee:

1. Learning on your own initiative

As soon as people start following an online training on their own initiative, it’s likely it will have a greater positive effect. Furthermore, you give your employees responsibility for their own development, so they can grow. Hereby it holds true: ensure a large selection and the possibility to start right away. When you let people choose what, when and how they want to work and learn, they are more productive than ever. Thus, your organisation will grow as well.

2. Learning, always and everywhere

Besides them determining what they want to learn, they can learn where and when it suits them. The moment it suits you, you can get started. This makes it easier to combine work and learning.

3. Learning with various learning aims

During an online training it’s easy to work on several learning goals. No matter if you have one specific learning goal or if you have several, a large selection can make sure that employees can compose their programmes themselves, so it seamlessly connects to their learning aims. A digital learning solution is often more intuitive and automatically stresses your learning need. For example, a certain clever app which asks you different questions on your learning aim, until you manage your knowledge.

The new way of learning asks for a learning culture

An organisation with a strong learning culture is quickly viewed as an appealing employer. No wonder that the learning and development of employees is number 1 priority of HR in order to attract and keep employees. Facilitating new learning methods does know a few challenges. Not only the ways you learn, but also the nature of learning changes. This can have disadvantages. The moment you give the employees themselves control, you need to adapt the offer of resources and support to it. We give you a few tips:

1. Give attention to your new learning form

As an organisation it’s important to completely facilitate the new learning method. Crucial are the individual initiative, being able to learn always and everywhere and learning with several learning goals, and the offer must be connected to these new aspects. This means matching between supply and demand on the workplace needs to be faster and there needs to be room for experimenting.

2. Look from the employee's perspective

Adjustments in your company’s culture and learning culture are necessary in order to give meaning to the new method of learning. Look from the perspective of the employees, and design a learning process with them as starting point. The contemporary technology makes it possible to offer blended processes and to achieve self-managing working and learning. However, it needs to be fully supported by the organisation. It’s important there’s room for this, because you’ll partly lose control.

3. The future of learning

Regardless if we learn traditionally or digitally, the biggest effect will be achieved when the learners themselves are eager to start. Intrinsic motivation is thus extremely important. See yourselves in the employee and bring them a relevant solution. The future of learning isn’t sending employees to learning environments, but creates a learning environment in the environment of the employee. Moreover, the strength of learning isn’t in (traditionally) conveying theory, but in translating theory into practice. We aren’t talking about a shift from traditional learning to online learning, but from traditional learning to experimenting.

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