Mobile, self-determined, agile: The future of learning and the most important pointers for companies, as seen by blogger and consultant Jochen Robes.
What are the main trends in corporate learning?
Companies are leaning towards new learning strategies that place a stronger focus on informal learning. This means there is no longer just a formal learning approach, such as classroom training and e-learning courses, but also an informal approach, where the learning process takes place directly at the work place with readily available resources and support that could be internal or external. The approaches to learning are expanding, and the fine line separating work and learning is becoming more and more blurred.
This, of course, is making self-guidance even more important, as responsibilities are shifting further into the hands of the employees. Employees are embracing new learning environments and platforms and turn to YouTube, podcasts, or blogs to expand their knowledge further. This is also a part of informal learning, and it is entirely self-determined.
If we explore this further, we realize that the new trends are accompanied by new roles in personnel development. Employees are also needed as coaches now, and as curators of external content, or as moderators of communities. From there, it is a seamless transition into a new development called future of work, a much-discussed topic. If work and learning are drawing closer together, if they are going to be more mobile, self-determined, and agile in the future, this means that other topics such as working environment and work organization will be affected as well and could be discussed from a new angle.
Where do the companies stand in integrating these trends?
Different companies take very different approaches. While some are still considering introducing e-learning, others are already discussing more strategic topics such as Enterprise 2.0 and digitalization projects. Those companies, for example, use social media to promote teamwork throughout their value chain, support social learning in communities, or digitalize their learning and even business processes. This is where blended learning, gamification, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) come into play. The forerunners are often companies in IT-related industries. Companies with a strong focus on production, for example, often lag behind in following these trends.
You are often away on business trips. Are there differences between the German and other markets?
The Anglo-Saxon countries are the most advanced where network-based learning is concerned. Their IT economy is more developed, and their work culture is more open to experimentation. Compared to Germany, there are also fewer concerns when it comes to cloud-based offerings, Big Data, and data protection. These matters take a bit longer to come of age in Germany, but increasingly less so thanks to the overlapping work cultures in large and globally operating companies.
What drives these trends?
We’ve been working on computer-based and IT-supported learning for over 25 years. Right now, the biggest driving forces are Industry 4.0 and digital transformation. Meanwhile, we are less concerned about the differences – should learning be digital or instructor-led? Is e-learning more appropriate for our times than on-site trainings? – and more concerned with the question of how we can use the Web for self-determined learning.
What would be the first steps HR employees and managers can take?
I also recommend a strategic and systematic approach to learning development in this area. In connection with digital transformation and self-determined learning, a company should be able to answer these two questions: Where do I stand and where do I want to go from here? Being able to answer these questions is equally important for HR and Personnel Development and Training, so they can devise adequate plans. From an operational perspective, it also makes sense for instructors, personnel development, and managers to acquire media competence. This is the only way to convey new approaches to employees in a way that makes sense, since they are often laced with new values, mindsets, and attitudes.
One possibility that lies at hand here are MOOCs and the opportunity to test new, network-based learning methods for oneself. A lot of training courses are free of cost. A helpful side note: This kind of measure is best introduced as a project, for example, as a train-the-trainer measure. That way you can avoid time management conflicts with everyday work.
Can you think of examples of future learning that you’ve seen in practice?
The MOOC Corporate Learning 2.0 took place just a short while ago, during which eight companies presented eight topics on different methods. Many trends were outlined and they pointed out the different perspectives of companies such as Adidas, FESTO, Deutsche Bahn, and SAP. Some companies have even started organizing internal MOOCs now, such as Credit Suisse, Telekom, and SAP. Topics like digital transformation or Enterprise 2.0, which companies are trying to introduce through campaigns, would be perfect candidates for such an undertaking.
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