Future of learning blog

Bring on the learning revolution

You know me, I love the chance to chat about all things L&D. So I was delighted to guest on Jane Daly’s recent Worklife Podcast.

As co-founder of People Who Know – the place to find worklife experts – Jane is keen to provide a platform for services that create better worklives for all. Which is music to my ears, as Stellar Labs is all about giving people the skills to improve their performance in their current job or thrive in new and emerging roles.

Jane knows we have a reputation for cutting edge techniques, which could explain why her opening gambit was to invite me to step aboard her ‘time machine’!

Follow the evidence

Working on the premise that past events can often help us navigate the future, Jane set the controls to 2015. A significant year for me as it saw the launch of my book Neuroscience for Learning and Development.

I’m a firm believer that, in L&D, we don’t need to be neuroscientists to choose the right solutions for our learners. But we do need to ask: is there evidence to show this will allow the learner to do their job better, and feel happy and more fulfilled?

We need to understand why certain interventions work; why they deliver an effective solution. The passion for improvement is there among L&D professionals. We just need to channel it, and not waste time, money, energy and resources on the wrong training.

As Jane points out, we are sitting on a huge reskilling requirement. “L&D has a mountain to climb so we need to step up the expertise today,” she says.

Talk of the present prompted Jane to reset the dials of her time machine to 2020, and ask for my observations of the current L&D landscape.

“Absorbing content is not learning; effectively it’s entertainment.” 

Like many, I’m conscious of the shift to online. It’s a move hastened by the pandemic and has given those who were initially rather fearful of digital the push to try it. Something as simple as a Zoom call with family has given people the confidence to dip their toes further into tech waters and explore online learning.

But my concern is: are people actually learning by simply watching webinars or videos? Absorbing content is not learning; effectively it’s entertainment.

L&D must embrace the learning revolution. We must help people understand the learning process in their brains and their bodies so they can acquire the skills and behaviours they need.

“The learning revolution is about L&D professionals being more effective in how they design and deliver learning, and learners being more effective in how they use the information.”

It’s more than presenting people with information. To make a permanent change, to be valuable in the long term, learners need to internalise the information, make sense of it, practise, get feedback and transfer the new technique or knowledge to their worklife.

The learning revolution is about L&D professionals being more effective in how they design and deliver learning, and learners being more effective in how they use the information; asking themselves: how will I use and apply that to my world?

Jane’s keen to rev up her time machine again and has set our course for 2030. Many in the L&D industry predict that workforces will be less permanent and more agile by then, with people changing jobs frequently or taking on multiple roles.

Upskill at speed

To make a success of that scenario, people will need to become more flexible and take on new skills at a faster rate. L&D can accelerate their time to competency and help them adapt to new working environments by designing interventions for self-directed, self-enabling learners. If we as L&D professionals can create an atmosphere where people are keen to learn for themselves, everyone will benefit.

With one last trip in the tank, Jane flicks the switch for the year 3000. It’s my guess that, although we might be more tech-savvy by then, we’ll still be the same at heart, and family and work conversations will dominate. Perhaps the upsurge in tech will give us more time to be human?

Whatever the future holds, my advice is to look for the evidence in the learning solution you’re applying. Be brave, be confident, and give things a go.



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