The learning landscape is not what it used to be. Access to information in today’s connected world is no longer a challenge. If people need to learn something, whether it’s for work or personal reasons, they most likely Google it, watch a YouTube video, or read a Wikipedia article.
It’s easy to look for answers in the exact moment of need to achieve instant gratification. Just 30 years ago, people learned in a much different way. For instance, they might go to the local library to research, answer a question or develop a new skill.
Workplace demographics are also shifting, and technology is forcing employees to constantly learn and refresh their skills. Given this reality, there are new expectations for the learning resources a business uses to support employee development. This is why now is the time to embrace the consumerization of learning. What does that mean? Businesses must understand that people’s learning experiences at work should mirror the way they learn in their daily lives. Put more simply, the world people live in is also the world people work in, and now, learn in.
Take a look at the corporate learning landscape, and regimented, archaic learning systems that don’t offer fresh content catered to individual learning styles and busy schedules are still far too common. According to Deloitte’s “2015 Global Human Capital Trends” report 85 percent of people cite learning at work as “important” or “very important,” yet adopting new learning technology is not a high priority.
Scheduling and sending people off for daylong or weeklong in-person learning sessions is time consuming and costly. The idea that all corporate learning content must be created in-house over many months prevents organizations and their people from staying on top of the latest technology.
Just as learning tools in the consumer world are moving out of the library and onto peoples’ phones and laptops, learning tools in the workplace are also shifting out of their traditional learning and development and human resource functions, and into the hands of everyday employees. Organizations need to take a consumerized approach to their corporate learning content and employee development strategy.
Time is not the problem. People need easy access to a constant flow of up-to-date and engaging learning content. And while many believe that finding enough time to learn is the main issue, the real problem lies in the content itself. People will engage with content they find relevant, useful and engaging. At Udemy for Business, we saw the average amount of content consumed more than triple in 2015 because we offer consumer-first content. Consumerizing learning means providing employees with learning content that is meaningful and enjoyable. Just as people find their relationships with consumer products enjoyable, consumer-vetted learning content is engaging because it’s content they’ve already chosen to learn from in their daily lives as consumers. It’s content that has been vetted by millions of people.
Content curation is key. Consumerized learning technology not only gives organizations access to consumer-vetted content, but also gives learning leaders the flexibility to curate that content. Giving employees access to YouTube is not an ideal learning solution because the content hasn’t been curated to the organization’s learning needs. For example, while a library of YouTube videos on the many ways to cook lasagna is enjoyable for people to watch, it doesn’t help people excel in their career, nor will it improve team performance. However, a library of curated content on the digital marketing skills or the latest programming languages provides personal and professional growth, and ultimately drives productivity for the organization.
You don’t know what you don’t know. The role of the learning leader today is to embrace change, and find ways to make learning a priority. Leaders can do this by understanding what skills are needed for tomorrow’s jobs. More importantly, leaders must invest in learning technology that truly understands people as learners. People want engaging content they can access from their desks or on the go, that is tailored to their individual learning styles and interests, and can be viewed on their own time.
Organizations must offer corporate learning content their employees will actually want to engage with. Consumerizing learning makes this new age of learning possible.
Yvonne Chen is the director of product marketing for Udemy for Business. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.