2016: Rethinking workplace learning

2017 UPDATE: Find out more in my book, Learning in the Modern Workplace 2017


Workplace training (and e-learning) are often euphemistically referred to as workplace learning, so there has been an assumption for a long time now that they are one and the same thing.

But whilst workplace training/e-learning is about telling people what they need to learn, how they need to learn it, when they need to learn it, and making sure they do it – workplace learning is much more than this. And now that the workplace is radically changing, workplace learning needs a new definition … a new mindset even …

  • A mindset that recognises that most learning happens as a natural part of work – through daily work experiences and interactions with colleagues and others – and that this type of learning is of no less importance than the learning that comes from being taught or though self-study.
  • A mindset that appreciates the fact that people are learning as much for themselves by using the Web in their daily activities – to solve their own performance problems and to keep informed about their industry and profession – and that this needs to be promoted and supported rather than banned or ignored.
  • A mindset that values workplace learning in ALL its forms – and it is not just about organising course and resources FOR people, but also involves encouraging, enabling and support self-organised learning
  • A mindset that realises that it is not about tracking and measuring what people have learned, but evaluating the impact that it has had on job, team and business performance.
  • A mindset that understands that the world is changing fast and that nowadays everyone has a responsibility for learning in the workplace.

This new definition (and mindset) of modern workplace learning (MWL) in turn requires a wider set of L&D practices.

  1. Building the new MWL mindset in the organisation
  2. Promoting independent continuous learning
  3. Supporting everyday learning (as a natural part of work)
  4. Providing modern training (content and experiences in new formats)
  5. Helping solve performance problems in the most appropriate ways

Below is a graphic that I’ve been using to show how these new practices fit together. You can download a copy of the PDF (with hyperlinks) from SlideShare  During 2016 I’ll be posting more about these MWL practices.

One Comment

  1. Jean In het Panhuis

    Hi Jane
    Best wishes for 2016.
    Totally agree. Changing the mindset is the biggest challenge that starts with to change of the mindset /culture within the training departments and learning specialists.
    And also to change the mindset within the company and their learners that they can expect other more facilitating services for 20-70 learning interventions from their learning departments.
    May it be a good year for this necessary change.
    best regards

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