Being the CEO of a company that revolves around learning technology I have to watch the trends in Learning & Development. I even have to predict what will be next. I need to be ahead of the game in order to steer my company in the right direction. For this purpose, I made an analysis of the changes that I see and I wanted to share these insights.
Move towards informal learning
This trend started a long time ago with Jay Cross, with his “workplace learning” approach. This was followed by the “70:20:10” trend and is now further enforced with the “Five moments of learning needs”. All these theories are telling us that informal learning is more important than learning, and that performance or behavior is more important than learning.
The learner is taking control
The times that a company could tell an employee how to develop and what to learn are over. A modern-day employee will set his own route into the future, and determining what, where and when to learn is a part of this. Because of this, the old top-down approach of the L&D department is not working anymore. It is all about facilitating the learner now, thus moving to a bottom-up approach.
Performance over learning
Learning used to be about transferring knowledge, that is no longer the case. Knowledge and facts can be Googled. Teaching people this knowledge is not effective anymore. Teaching them where to find this knowledge is step one. But the trend is towards making this knowledge available in the context of the work, in order to improve performance.
From knowledge to skills
Having the knowledge available at your fingertips in a performance support environment is one thing, but we need to teach people what to do with that knowledge, how to change their behavior. It is not about knowledge anymore it is about skills that apply that knowledge in order to increase performance
My learning quadrant
I have combined these four trends into what I call my “Learning Quadrant”.
In this quadrant, I have plotted the four areas of Learning and Development. Interestingly enough you see all the trends moving away from the “formal” quadrant to informal, skills, support and bottom-up.
The main shift at this moment is a move from top-down to bottom-up. This explains the decrease of interest in the (top-down) oriented Learning Management Systems and the increased interest in Learning eXperience systems. It is still about learning and knowledge though.
I believe that moving from formal learning towards knowledge sharing is just an intermediate step. All the main trends indicate that it is all about performance and performance support in the long run. That is where we are heading as an industry.