The landscape of learning sports a new panorama. Videos replace textbooks. Three-minute reads replace hour-long lectures. Self-paced eLearning replaces semesters of study. Tablets replace classrooms.

Digital learning is here to stay

Instructor-led training (ILT) is by no means a thing of the past, but the progression of learning over the past six decades begs organizations to stay at the head of the pack. As early as the 1960s, computer-assisted instruction (CAI) bolstered traditional ILT. It wasn’t long before digital moved from being the assistant to being the textbook, the presentation, the classroom, and at times, the instructor. Digital components, out. Digital contexts, in.

Institutions began offering digital courses through online platforms like iTunes U and Moodle, where learners could listen to presentations, attend training groups, submit assignments, and take assessments—right from their desks. Some institutions even went entirely digital in course delivery. Individual influencers and experts began hosting digital courses on their websites and blogs, YouTube, and eLearning hubs, like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Skillshare. 

Learning was—and now is—no longer limited to a career path or enrollment in a program. A mom in Nashville can take a course on baby-led weaning from a blogger she found on Instagram. A man in Ireland can take a course on installing a swimming pool from a YouTuber in Utah.

In what felt like a matter of minutes, learning went from a multicourse, multiyear experience to a vending machine of snack-size portions (think, the LÄRABARs of learning), consumable in the gaps, while you wait, regardless of how much is on your plate. Learning is at one’s fingertips more than ever.

The stakes are high for organizational training

Today, anyone can learn how to program in Java, install an HVAC system, design a logo, trade stocks, compose music, or mix cocktails, on an impulse, within minutes, from anywhere, even without educational commitment or cost. The average Joe can move from novice to proficient between the end of one workday and the beginning of the next. The bar has been raised: maximum convenience with maximum results. 

Employees are used to grab-and-go learning when it comes to personal DIY projects, skill building, hobbies, lifestyle management, and higher education. They expect nothing less when it comes to on-the-job training. 

Today’s learner responds to a learner-first approach

When learners know what’s in it for them, they stay motivated. And motivation is the key to learning. Key strategies like positive stress, the power of storytelling, situational application, reducing functional fixedness, empowerment, and breaking learning up into short bursts set the learner up for success. 

Today’s learner engages with interactivity

With today’s app-driven lifestyle, instant feedback, and touchscreen everything, learners aren’t fond of lengthy lectures or wordy reads. Interactivity is often the only way to hold a learner’s attention and solidify concepts. Interactive learning may call the learner to a response, it may be on-demand or customized, and it may be immersive, using augmented or virtual reality.

Today’s learner anticipates polished training

With a world of content at their fingertips, learners expect content to get it right the first time. Polished learning has quality instructional design, a clear distinction between what’s read onscreen and what’s heard in voice-over, effective pacing, and realistic development.

Today’s learner thrives on microlearning

Microlearning—giving the learner manageable chunks of content—includes prepping learners with pre-learning, using learning bursts, and reinforcing learning. Microlearning increases retention and boosts results.
Today’s learner—today’s employee—can learn anything they want, when they want, and how they want. You know what it takes for them to be successful in your organization. Motivate them to get there, by going where learning culture has already taken them. Meet them there, and you’ll drive your organization to the next level.

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