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New models of learning to support business agility pt2

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27th Jul 2015
Learning analyst
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Laura Overton concludes her final piece to accompany this year's benchmark.

In order for formal learning to be effective, L&D needs to move away from viewing courses as discrete events. Instead, it needs to build in the opportunity for practice and reflection outside of the course as critical elements in any formal learning. Our research shows that top learning companies are making much greater use of reflective, collaborative activities:

  • 48% of companies use learning communities such as action learning sets (rising to 64% in top learning companies)
  • 34% use blogs by tutors or learners (59%)
  • 34% use wikis (49%)
  • 23% use immersive learning environments such as simulations (39%)
  • 20% encourage and provide time for reflection (39%)
  • 19% encourage learners to keep reflective learning logs (41%)
  • 7% use virtual worlds (13%)

L&D needs to properly facilitate blended learning, so that any formal learning is extended into a person’s workflow. It also needs to personalise learning, adapting it to different roles and experiences. Modern learners really value collaboration. As a result, there is a huge amount of collaborative, social learning happening all of the time. Organisations recognise this – 95% say they want to support the ongoing sharing of good practice through their implementation of learning technologies. However, only 24% of organisations are achieving it.

Social and collaborative tools, work-related apps and resources are critical to business agility. They enable learners to learn and network with each other and access information and support when they need them. Is L&D providing the right tools to support collaboration? Our research found that:

  • 70% of organisations use enterprise-wide information systems such as SharePoint
  • 54% use VOIP conferencing
  • 52% use communities of practice
  • 49% use external social networks
  • 44% use internal learning networks
  • 43% support user-generated content

But they are still not providing enough. Organisations always have concerns about IT security when it comes to new technologies and there are still barriers to the use of social media, albeit less than in previous years. L&D needs to reduce those barriers in order to foster effective collaboration. 

Learners are already accessing lots of social media networks in order to further their learning. They do it at work and at home. L&D can be a part of that, by linking individuals to the people and support systems they need. However, our research shows that fewer than 50% of organisations have the right systems and resources in place. Furthermore, 77% of learners know what performance support they need, but one in eight of them does not know how to access it. This is where L&D needs to be supporting them. 

If L&D can use these new models of learning and harness the technology behind them, it will improve overall business agility. Our New Learning Agenda details three key areas where a technology-enabled learning strategy can boost business and individual agility: flexible learning delivery for an increasingly flexible workforce, simplified learning and the ability to respond faster to change.

Change happens so quickly now and it is imperative that individuals and organisations can quickly adapt and respond to those changes. Technology is driving these changes, so L&D needs to practise technology-enabled learning if it is to keep up and equip the workforce with the skills and knowledge they need.

How does your strategy compare with the top performing L&D teams? Use the Towards Maturity 2015 Benchmark to find out your alignment and engagement index. It is free to use until 31st July

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