5 top tips on learning trends for Learning & Development Professionals

Is training The Best way to help people develop? I would seriously doubt that. Already the ancient Chinese knew that “You can bring a horse to water but you cannot make it drink”. Same with learning and training. Your employees can attend  whatever number of trainings, but by no chance would it directly translate into any learning done.

How a training might be designed and run so that it actually enhances learning in the training context would probably be a good topic for another text. In the post here, you will read about what has changed in organisations’ approach to learning since the long gone but still alive classroom learning era.

In Central and Eastern European countries like Poland, professional learning & development industry is relatively young. Many of those daring trainers in early 1990s started with a lecture-like approach to transmitting knowledge. Over time, lecturing has evolved into training, and this training has become more and more interactive.

Together with international business and education coming here some 15 years ago, we discovered e-learning. By that time technology had already allowed to create simple online content. In the beginning, e-learnings were basically just a set of slides which needed to be clicked through. A tiny bit boring and giving absolutely no guarantee that apart from clicking the employee has read anything through, but it was giving this very pleasant possibility to put a tick in a box “completed”. Learning Management Systems allowed to organize e-learnings into easily accessible platforms. I remember my surprise as a fresh HP employee when I discovered that the company e-learning database contains something like 25,000 courses. The bulk majority was available for free; all I needed to do was just to click and read.

A few years later, I discovered that e-learning and blended learning can also be well done, interactive, and fun. Only two days of my course on situational leadership were delivered face to face; the rest was a system of e-learning, games, simulations, and a real movie to watch piece by piece. Blended learning is a term which sometimes might need an extra explanation: many of us have a blender at home. What does it do? It mixes everything with everything else so that is all becomes consistent. Same with learning: you mix various forms of learning into a learning process. It’s just that!

The excitement with e-learning made the learning industry boom  with content and technology. I believe it is still booming, and by now there are many decent companies creating both e-learning content and technology also in Poland. You no longer need to look for an international provider. On the other hand, making content available online means that you can access it from any place in the world – as long as there is internet connection. This allowed for open education, and MOOC, massive online open courses, some of them coming from top universities and available for free or almost for nothing, at the same time offering top quality content, like coursera. On the top of excitement with the possibilities provided by technology, another important aspect was “discovered”. For many people, learning alone was absolutely boring and completely demotivating for many people! This is how the era of social learning started.

It turned out that informal and social learning might have an even stronger impact on performance than all e-learnings altogether! This brought about a real revolution in the way organisations started to think about learning: performance depends not only on what takes place in classroom, but also – and perhaps even more importantly! – on what happens outside classroom! Now, that really changed the perspective.

With the 70-20-10 model, organizations needed to face the fact that what they had been doing so far – providing face to face or online trainings – was contributing to only 10% of their employees performance success. Many people learn from others, by listening to their stories and sharing experience. What is even more impactful is simply learning by doing, and this fills in approx. 70% of all learning. We learn by doing, practicing things. We learn to be good managers by reading a Blanchard book, by talking to a  colleague at work, and most of all – by facing and solving situations in practice. This means: any learning program has to create space for experience sharing and experience making! This also means: as trainings are not the universal remedy for any and all knowledge gaps, the learning format needs to be adjusted to fit a specific situation, need, etc. A totally different approach to learning at workplace.

Social learning boomed. Informal learning and collaboration have become the heart of knowledge sharing, and thanks to technology they could also take place in the virtual reality: as social networks, professional social networks like LinkedIn with all its possibilities to share and find knowledge. People love to exchange. They also love to support, to contribute, to confront, and to show alternative points of view, if only they feel a part of the network community. With 14 433 members, Trener Trenerowi Trenerem is currently probably the largest professional facebook group in Poland, and every day brings discussions rich in content – and rich in learning. Learning through and with others does not depend on generation, but combining internet, technology, and learning is the natural universe for Millenials.

It is inspiring to see that the world of learning & development also develops itself. We all need to and can progress. Consultants and HR both need to keep up with what changes in the workplace. Let’s stay aligned – and enjoy creating and populating space for learning experience!


5 top tips on learning trends for Learning & Development Professionals

  1. When you design a development process, please never limit yourself to considering only training. It might be good – but something else might be even better.
  2. When you invite an external provider for the job, don’t just order a training. Talk to them about what goal you want to meet in terms of people’s performance. Let them help you look at your need from a different perspective, it might be enriching for you.
  3. Creating social networks at workplace is not that easy and takes more time than just sending people to training. But there are many ways to make it happen: mentoring, peer coaching, or Action Learning just to name a few.
  4. Get familiar with technology. There’s no use fearing it or pushing it away. It’s here anyway. Use the possibilities it gives.
  5. Learning scenario which worked best elsewhere might not be the right one for you. Always have the people in mind. Baby Boomers need hardly any technology and a larger print, and Millennials need hardly any print and quite a bit of technology. Yet, both can equally enjoy a mentoring experience!


Monika Chutnik


About ETTA Global Leadership Consulting

etta Global Leadership Consulting is a is a dynamic people development company which delivers top class solutions in ● cross-cultural and intercultural cooperation ● international M&As ● leadership and management in international organizations ● facilitating management meetings ● successful virtual teams ● diversity management strategies ● executive and business coaching, intercultural coaching

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