Are Your Organization’s Learning Opportunities Outdated?


Is your organization offering learning opportunities that are based on an outdated model?

Or have you positioned your organization to offer learning opportunities that are proven to be successful today and align with your participants’ learning?

No, I’m not just talking about the linear advancement of technology as applied to learning. Technology is a factor but it is not the primary driving trait. I’m talking about the shift in how culture and the context of a global economy affect our learning.

The Three Stages Of Learning Through Time

As identified in the post Are You Still Providing Education Based On The Industrial Revolution Model? many organizations are still providing outdated delivery models of education based on the industrial revolution model. Then they wonder why their revenue continues to shrink. The education experience feels stale, outdated and from a command-and-control, shut-up, sit-down, listen, don’t ask questions, pay attention approach.

Successful education opportunities today are more collaborative, peer-sharing and discussion based than the old models.

TRClark, ASTD Research, Chief Learning Officer and The eLearning Guild released a report in 2008 that addressed the market upheaval, technological disruption, demographic churning and political instability that threaten learning and organizations today. They traced the history of learning from 1957-2008.

They identified three distinct learning stages during those fifty-one years. They also distinguished the trends for those periods and offered a set of recommendations for future progress.

  • Learning 1.0 1957-1981
  • Learning 2.0 1981-2004
  • Learning 3.0 2004-2008

This post will discuss Learning 3.0 and the future of learning.

Learning 3.0 2004 To Present

During this time period, market disruption and accelerated change became the norm. The volatility and speed of change appears irreversible, which is tough news for organizations struggling to survive. Organizations are challenged to learn, change and lead learning in a way for which they have no precedent. They lack experience and knowledge on what to do next.

The learning mindset is one of continuous, rapid and collaborative learning at the moment of need. Collaboration raises the overall knowledge level of the group. Collaboration is possible but not automatic.

Collaborators can also come away with dumbed-down rather than ratcheted-up collective knowledge as well. Collaboration can be a hit or miss depending on how it’s facilitated and the experience level of the group. Provide the wrong type of collaborative experience and customers won’t return.

Today, education researchers challenge people to view organizations as a system of learning as well as a production and service-delivering resource. Yet most organizations are full of people who have outdated learning skills combined with an industrial learning mindset that doesn’t allow them to learn continuously. Some baby boomers survive on the basis of old skills from another time, immobilized, acknowledging publically the new world but privately unwilling to learn in new ways.

Similarly, some organizations perpetuate cultures of fear. In those environments, people respond by withholding information.

The key to growth is the cultivation and retention of knowledge workers. They create up to three times the profit of other employees says Lowell Bryan, a director at McKinsey and author of Race for the World: Strategies to Build a Great Global Firm.

The speed of change outside of an organization now favors leaders who explore, monitor the periphery and extend the field of vision for the entire organization. Context is ever important to learning. The shift from competence to the ability to continually acquire new knowledge and skills is imperative.

A new learning leader paradigm has emerged. Learning leaders have a unique ability to learn as well as engage others in learning.

Mobile learning, personalized learning and formal as well as informal learning opportunities are critical. Learning context is key and structured, facilitated yet organized collaborative, peer-sharing, continuous learning opportunities rise to the top. Event-based learning is seen within a larger context of ongoing learning and not just a one-time experience. The focus is on creating learning experiences that are memorable, relevant and solve customers’ problems. Learning has shifted from being speaker-centric to learner-centric.

Learning 3.5 – The Near Future

In the future, learning will focus on knowledge management being fully integrated into business workflow process. Content management with today’s contextual global environments is critical. Content, context and collaborative communication are keys.

Mobile, real-time performance smart agents will be embedded within the process as well as ongoing analysis and evaluation. Learning will not be able to be separated from production. An emphasis will be given to acquiring knowledge and creating value in the production process. Learning and talent management systems will facilitate a more seamless integration of workflow and learning.

How can organizations transition from expert- and speaker-centric to being more learning-centric? What role do data, facts and information have in collaborative learning?

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  1. […] post will discuss Learning 1.0 and Learning 2.0. Tomorrow’s post discusses Learning 3.0 and Learning 3.5, the […]

  2. Jeff, what I’m seeing greatly coincides with the “learning 3.5” that you are thinking about as well. I’ve recently added a “knowledge sharing” section to the social media audit I offer as I’ve found it to be an impediment to being a truly networked organization. While several teams in a business or organization may be sharing knowledge, it isn’t until it is integrated into an organization’s culture that the organization itself adopts a culture of learning.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Great point that knowledge needs to be more than shared and ultimately integrated into the organization’s culture. Thanks for highlighting that!

  3. […] post will discuss Learning 1.0 and Learning 2.0. Tomorrow’s post discusses Learning 3.0 and Learning 3.5, the […]

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