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Are You A Modern Learner?

*Originally published by the Association for Talent Development and written in collaboration with Lisa MD Owens: https://www.td.org/insights/are-you-a-modern-learner. Drawn from our Designing for the Modern Learner workshop.

We design learning for an increasingly diverse environment, spanning regions, ages, generations, functions, and roles. But are you a modern learner? What does it mean to be a modern learner?

Picture the last time you needed new information or to learn a new skill, personally or professionally. How did you discover the answer? Chances are, you used a search engine, read articles, or watched videos until you closed your knowledge gap. You may have also asked a friend, colleague, or social network for the answer. The content you found was probably rated by others as good content and may have even been crowd-sourced and created by someone who isn’t a known expert.

A modern learner is someone who is in an environment where content changes fast and learning needs change even faster. Modern learners want answers right away and rely on a wide variety of sources to find the answer. In other words, almost everyone today is a modern learner!

Consider the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years: the evolution of digital technology, globalization, and demographic shifts including the diverse generations in today’s workplace. These have created a new world of learning. Digital technology has created more ways of learning, more immediacy, and an increased pace of change. Globalization means employees often work across countries to accomplish new challenges. Having five generations in the workplace today has created a need for personalization. There is a wide variety of learning needs and methods that work better based on the individual. As a result, the expectations of learners have changed:

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Learning organizations that were designed to focus on traditional classroom and formal training programs now must move into the realm of modern learning. Modern learners expect company-offered tools and guidance to satisfy their need for immediate learning and learning through social interactions and platforms.

As a human capital professional, the best way to help you and your organization move toward modern learning is to first understand your own learning needs and preferences. What are some of your preferences today and how have they changed over time? In our research, we found nine key elements common in modern learning programs. How well do these resonate with your experience?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. We’d especially like your additions to our “expectations” grid.

Interested in learning more about how to make the shift to a modern L&D organization? Join us for the LearnNow: Designing for the Modern Learner workshop. 

About the Authors:

Lisa Owens

Lisa Owens is a learning expert who applies learning sciences to create training programs that move businesses forward. She designs training for the in-person and virtual classrooms and the web. Lisa founded Training Design Strategies LLC in 2012 to help companies achieve their goals through the power of training. Beyond her current client work, she is an instructor for Ohio University’s instructional design graduate program and on GC-ASTD’s Executive Advisory Board. She is co-author of the college textbook Your Career: How to Make It Happen, the books Leaders as Teachers Action Guide and Lo start-up di una Corporate University, and a series of articles for CorpU on creating corporate universities. Lisa holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in education.

Crystal Kadakia

Crystal Kadakia is a two-time TEDx speaker, author, and consultant on Millennials and the modern workplace. Her company, Invati Consulting, champions what she calls “talent-driven organization design” to modernize the workplace through speaking, training, and consulting solutions. Her mission is to enable organizations and talent to work together to revolutionize the workplace for today’s digital world. She reshapes the conversation on Millennials by providing a strong Millennial voice in a sea of Boomer and Gen X perspectives. She is the creator of the acclaimed virtual blended training program on generations, Generation University, and the Modern Culture Assessment, which drives organizations to strategically shift culture for the needs of modern employees. Crystal was named One to Watch by the Association for Talent Development and is a co-author of Your Career: How to Make It Happen. Before starting Invati Consulting, Crystal led multiple multimillion-dollar projects as a chemical engineer at Procter & Gamble. She transitioned successfully to training and development and led multiple global programs, including renewing the new hire technical university training program and standardizing onboarding globally. Today, she has given more than 50 talks and has influenced more than 1,000 leaders to shift their paradigm on the modern workplace. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the Human Capital Institute.