What Learners Want!

We are delighted to have a guest post from Laura Overton, managing director, Towards Maturity.

This chat has taken place. View the complete transcript here.

It’s 2013 and we have more ways to engage learners than ever before. But do we know what our colleagues really want from L&D?

This question is not meant to be facetious. On the contrary, the aim of the question is to challenge the pre-conceptions of learning professionals.

From the first work on learning styles 30 years ago, we’ve understood that people like to learn in different ways and that we should adapt to their needs. Nowadays we are more likely to be discussing the generational differences that influence what our staff actually want and prefer when it comes to learning and work.

We understand that the decision-making baby boomers in business are traditionally motivated by prestige, they are comfortable in working in hierarchies where knowledge is power and nervous of technologies that they don’t understand. One the other hand, we also hear that the tech savvy millennial is more motivated by meaningful work, collaboration and community and won’t tolerate traditional ways of learning. And we’re told that the L&D professional had better be ready!

Armed with this knowledge about our learners we should be better equipped than ever to create learner centric programmes that put individuals into the driving seat of their own destiny. After all we’ve got the technologies and tools and models to help make this a reality.

So how are we doing?

According to this year’s Towards Maturity Benchmark, L&D professionals believe they are opening up choices for individual, with 7 out of 10 providing learning management systems packed full of any time any where online e-learning.

But are we giving our colleagues what they want? This year’s benchmark is also showing that almost all of us are looking to increase sharing within the organisation yet often our communities are like ghost towns – not even the collaborative millennial are gathering there.

What is holding us back? L&D professionals believe that whilst they are trying to create learning that improves engagement, employees themselves are holding them back with over 50% citing reluctance by users to learning, with new technology as a barrier to change.

In our research we’ve seen staff reluctance as the number one barrier to change for a few years and we are beginning to wonder why. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that we aim to put learners in the driving seat but most of the time we remain firmly in control telling them what is available, and where and when they can and should do it.

Another reason might be that we are perhaps projecting some of our own concerns onto our staff, making assumptions about their wants and needs based on our standard training needs analysis and happy sheets.

I fear that we are also making assumptions about how they want to learn based on the new generational labels that we are applying.

It’s time to challenge our assumptions.

We need to start to understand that our staff are not millennial, gen X or baby boomers, neither are they reflectors, activists or other learning labels. They are individuals – doctors, project managers, engineers, train drivers and civil servants – and they probably all react differently in different situations.

And it’s not just millennials who are tech savvy now. When it comes to bring your own devices into the workplace – the biggest ‘culprits’ are senior managers – 77% of them bring their own technology into the workplace. Did you know that 65% of Facebook users and 55% of Twitter now are aged 35 or over?

All these stats have the potential to do our heads in! So, what is the truth about what our learners really want?

Please join us to discuss What Learners Want, on Thursday 04 April at 16:00 BST / 11:00EDT / 08:00 PDT

Look forward to seeing you there!



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