The reasons for a steady reliance on formal and structured activities, such as classroom- and computer-based training, vary by organization. They include:
• Generational preferences: Many senior leadership positions, both inside and outside the learning organization, are held by baby boomers. As a generation, baby boomers tend to prefer more structured, linear learning activities, or hands-on, tactile, controlled learning environments with an opportunity to practice essential skills.
• Risk aversion: Learning organizations have focused on formal activities since their inception; formal learning is a known quantity, and buy-in is generally high, even if overall satisfaction varies. Employees may call the quality of content or instruction into question, but learners rarely raise objections to formal and structured learning.
• Established metrics: There is an abundance of established, recognized and accepted ROI metrics for formal, structured learning. Classroom seat hours are one example.
• Predictable costs: Learning organizations understand the costs associated with designing and delivering formal learning, and how they scale.
• Flexible environment: Classroom content is flexible and scalable, lending itself to a range of different environments.
• Technology: Until recently, social technology for corporate use was not commercially available and accepted as a business critical tool.
• Cultural adoption: Organizations often view learning outside of formal means as a cloud. While they recognize that it exists and see some value, there is a feeling that it just happens and there is little that can be done to support informal or unstructured learning.