Redefining Workplace Learning for the 21st Century

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The following article by Jenny Dearborn provides a strong rationale for peer learning groups.

Redefining Workplace Learning for the 21st Century

By Jenny Dearborn, Vice President, Chief Learning Officer, SuccessFactors

Disruptive technologies and shifting demographics are redefining the workforce. In response, smart companies are reinventing workplace learning in an effort to make their programs more relevant and effective, and to create a culture that encourages continuous learning and develops innovative leaders at all levels of the organization.

“Today, workplace learning has achieved mission-critical status,” says Sam Herring, CEO of Intrepid Learning. “Global CEOs face an environment that is more competitive than ever—one in which they live or die by their ability to lead innovation, which can only be realized by having world-class talent that is highly competent, motivated and engaged. Top companies understand this connection, and they know that success requires more than waging a war to acquire talent; it requires that they strategically develop the talent they need to envision and execute the business strategies that will make them successful in the future.”

How workplace learning is changing

In the very near future, workplace learning will be about social collaboration, team-based activities, and decentralized peer-to-peer learning. Learning will be mobile, and access will be continuous and instantaneous. Workers will attend fewer scheduled classes and online training sessions. Instead, short videos, game-like simulations, and peer communities that offer networking, information sharing and informal coaching will engage and motivate workers by delivering “anyplace, anytime learning.

In the future, workplace learning will be increasingly experiential and relationship-based, knowledge will come from everywhere, and companies won’t be able to control or standardize it. Corporate-sponsored training will become less important and knowledge assessments or certifications will become more important. Companies won’t care how their employees acquire knowledge or obtain a certain skill or ability, but only that they can prove their expertise.

“Companies that understand the power of learning are thinking holistically about how learning happens in the workplace, and they are seeking to create environments where learning thrives,” Herring says. “They understand that classroom training (or derivatives such as e-learning or virtual classroom sessions) isn’t enough. They know that an effective learning environment often must include performance support to provide ongoing reinforcement, easy access to knowledge repositories for quick micro-learning lessons, collaborative communities to tap the wisdom of the crowds, and most importantly, abundant opportunities to practice new skills in the work environment, to reflect on one’s performance, and to improve.”

Peer learning groups and the PLG Model fulfill all of these functions that I’ve emphasized in the article.

In reflection,

Deb Laurel

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