Consider the following scenario. An employee in another department has expertise in a topic a peer has a question on. Rather than sitting through a class on that topic, the peer could go to the colleague and ask him or her directly.
This type of knowledge sharing doesn’t have to involve colleagues at the same company. Learning needs could be met if the peer seeks out answers in a book, whether it’s an e-book, in print or via online search.
“Learners and managers have been doing pull learning for a long time,” said Chris Tratar, senior director of product marketing at Saba, a learning software company. “Now, learning departments are feeling pressure to foster these types of learning solutions because of the pervasiveness of social, mobile and collaboration technology.”
The rapidity of technological advancements partly explains rising use of pull learning in the workplace. Changing workforce demographics are also contributing to its popularity. The workforce is now filled with individuals who are not only comfortable with technology, they expect mobile and social platforms to be readily available to help them learn how to do their jobs more effectively.
“If we like to think our company is at least half with it, then we’re going to question why it’s so hard to find and access a document I need when I need it,” Mallon said. “Especially when other technology allows us to find a long-lost friend from high school in five minutes.”
Pull learning technology also matches fast-paced business needs for workers who are constantly on the go. Most employees find it hard to find an hour to set aside for a traditional classroom or e-learning click-through program, said Brent O’Bryan, vice president of learning and development at security personnel provider AlliedBarton. Instead, they are looking for bite-size learning opportunities they can complete remotely between meetings or while they’re waiting for an appointment.
“A five-minute video will never replace a Harvard degree,” said John Ambrose, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft. “But you don’t need a Harvard degree to run a better meeting, conduct a better interview or be a better manager or coach.”