Until the late ’90s corporate learning was defined by logistical constraints. Trainings were optimized for the instructor’s calendar or for when a department could attend without disrupting the business too much. Corporate learning, back then solely classical instructor led training, was hardly ever optimized for the individual needs of the employee. In the end all employees were pushed through similar lectures and exercises, without adaptations for individual background or personality. And how could there be?
E-learning. That’s the answer to that question, at least according to the late ’90s. E-learning made a wide variety of content readily available. With the click of a button employees could access all kinds of materials. If instructor-led learning was ‘push’, e-learning was ‘pull’. Even though having all these materials available sounds as progress, the original limitations remained: trainings were still too generic. They were nothing more than digitized versions of the same instructor-led classroom sessions, especially the initial videos where “one size fits all”. On top of that, most employees did not go through the trouble of exploring the limitless amounts of digital content. Their everyday jobs took plenty of time already.
Over the course of the last decade, corporate learning professionals started to streamline the huge pool of video content, adding quizzes and reducing the length of the content, to enable microlearning. Mixing ‘push’ (nudges) and ‘pull’ (large database of digitized content) seemed like a step ahead. However, in reality not much changed. Content that was supposed to be detailed and engaging was still ‘pushed’, while the content that relied on ‘pull’ was still widely generic. However, for (mostly) skills-based training light at the end of the tunnel started to emerge: content, at the level of the learner, started to become available with the click of a mouse. But why wasn’t it applied broader?
Today, finally, a combination of user-centric technology, data analytics and readily available content is finally leading to a paradigm shift in corporate learning, by giving employees the learning experience they deserve. New platforms revolve around tailoring towards the individual. They combine a wide variety of different learning methods, are able to differentiate in terms of length, moment and style and incorporate technology to measure the effectiveness of the entire learning journey.
In terms of form, these new platforms offer integrated journeys, filled with video, text, exercises, live classroom sessions and guided discussions, using new techniques like virtual and augmented reality, allowing everyone to learn the way that suits them best.
The way these platforms interact with users is fully aligned with the rhythm of the modern employee. Most of the content is presented in bite-sized modules accessible on a smartphone, and clever use of gamification elements keeps learners engaged.
The socialness of these platforms is the third contributor to the paradigm shift. Learners can interact with fellow learners on the content, wherever and whenever. They can for example engage in discussions on content or share their experiences with putting the material into practice. Quizzes and reflective exercises give both employers and employees much more insight in the effectiveness of a learning journey, far beyond the obligatory ‘how would you rate this session from 1 to 10?’
So today, finally, with the introduction of revolutionary new learning platforms, employees can get the corporate learning experience they deserve. And finally, corporations get what they pay for: a workforce that effectively and measurably develops specific capabilities. Today, finally, corporate learning is truly learner-centric — without the corporations (who foot the bill) missing out.
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