The Learner Centered Approach: Moving From The Master’s Voice To The People’s Voice

The World Of Learning And The Learner Centered Approach 

Independent research, like Bersin’s predictions for 2016 and Towards Maturity 2015-2016 Industry Benchmark, emphasizes that only those who embrace these changes wholeheartedly and only when all stakeholders are actively involved, reap the benefits in a rather short period of time. This translates into the most important result: Business improvement.

So it is not about the ever-defensive debate for Return On Investment (ROI). It is not about creating new trends and jargons (e.g. seventy-twenty-ten) that may make us feel comfortable inside our “clan”, but that alienate us from those who are running the business. And it’s certainly not about the “I did my part” mentality. It’s about being extroverted and trying to relate with the business people in order to help them solve their business problems.

The shift in business structure away from the hierarchical model, which was incorporated in the Legacy Learning Management Systems, is one of the main reasons for bringing learning to a new digital era, where the new environment has a learner centered design and an embedded consumer-experience logic. This environment facilitates the finding, accessing, and easy consumption of knowledge by the user. The learners’ need for self-directed learning at their own pace, at any time and from any type of device is coupled with a desire to create, share, curate, recommend, and rate content that they find useful and important. These emerging needs and desires result in existing platforms having to evolve to incorporate them and in the emergence of a new generation of solutions, built from scratch to cover them.

And note, only modern, appealing –even “sexy”– solutions providing just-in-time, to-the-point, right-sized, well-appreciated knowledge can do this. Forget Frankenstein-style attempts like “I will integrate my social collaboration platform with my 90’s style Learning Management System and voila!”.

But if the world is turning to a learner centered, employee-owned learning reality supported by these modern and “ultra-effective” tools and platforms (with all the modern bells and whistles, cloud-based, SAAS, “ready-to-run” with a single mouse-click), where does that leave the internal and external Learning and Development (L&D) people? Well, there is still a myriad of things to be done if you consider the diversity of business characteristics and their needs for example… This should be enough to put your mind at ease.

A case in point: The role of curation and content management remains central to Learning and Development teams (internal and external) even in companies where business success will be hugely connected to user-created and shared content – at least until users become confident to go it alone and business results prove that the procedure can run “unattended”. There are also going to be cases where Learning and Development teams will still need to create, nurture, and facilitate the learning communities based on type of content, business, and user characteristics. Furthermore, it is being reported that users are pushing for even smaller chunks of knowledge and content, even smaller videos (not 4’ long but down to 1’ long), less time to train etc., so there will always be a need for Learning and Development teams to keep things logical, meaningful, related and effective. There’s no denying that professionals who transform courses to learning experiences and learning journeys, will always be essential.

The ultimate question is: Are the Learning and Development skills required for the new era already in place? Since everybody recognizes that we are in a transition period, we cannot expect this to be so, but this poses a challenge both for these professionals and their organizations.

It is a well-known fact that knowledge doubles annually, while skills have a half-life of 2,5 to 5 years. This fact is certainly not exclusive to all disciplines excluding learning and development.