Welcome to the Culture of Learning

L&D organizations around the world are being forced to change from isolated disconnected, instructor-led, and classroom-based formal programs, to a new, more technology-driven, mobile, social, and informal source of learning. The old rule of 70%-20%-10%, in which formal represents 70% , blended 20%, and informal 10%, has completely flipped in only a few years because of new educational technology, and the changing demographic of learners who consider technology to be a “sixth sense.”


If trends continue along the lines indicated Brandon Hall Group’s State of Learning & Development 2014 report, within the next handful of years, to meet the growing demand of learners worldwide, the learning equation will be 80% informal, social, mobile, and collaborative, and 20% blended instructor-led and virtual and actual classroom-based. This change represents one of the biggest paradigm shifts in the history of learning and development.

To successfully meet this change, L&D organizations must rapidly move toward becoming a new version of who they used to be. This new model – I call it a “culture of learning” – is driven by technology, and connected, collaborative, and capable of delivering just-for-me learning anytime and anywhere. The relationship between learning and high-performance is a given, and is managed strategically at the “C” level by a Chief Learning Officer or equivalent. L&D must evolve from being a “training department” to be the driving force behind a culture of learning that spans the enterprise, providing real, measurable value for the company.

This new version of L&D is in alignment with the goals and strategy of their companies, and in tune with the learning demands and habits of their millennial learners. What will this new L&D organization mean for instructional designers and others who define, design, develop, and deliver learning experiences for their companies?

Look a few years years out, when Tin Can API is ubiquitous, learning record stores (LRS) are a common place to store what knowledge learners gave acquired, HTML5 is the predominant authoring language, and the whole World Wide Web is an integral part of the learning experience. The impact on the learning experience will be tremendous. Developers will be working with many people who can contribute to the program to make it as useful and up-to-date as possible. Changes can be made on the fly to keep the program current. Learners and developers will be able to link to related sources for deeper learning when needed or wanted. Performance support will be built into every program. Multimedia and anytime, anywhere mobile access will be taken for granted.

Great design will ignore the technology and focus on being able to give the learner what they need at the point of need. Learning will not be just-in-time; it will be smart enough to be just-for-me. The learning experience will primarily be the following:

  • Mobile –  across all devices and any operating systems to be accessible anytime and anywhere
  • Chunked – into small performance-based mini-lessons that may only be 5-10 minutes long
  • Social – connecting peer-to-peers and experts or SMEs to all learners
  • Collaborative – to help people work together, solve problems, and learn
  • Deep linking – so the entire World Wide Web is included as a learning resource.

What is the Big Takeaway from the survey? The culture of learning will not feel like Kansas anymore.

David Grebow, Principal Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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