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The Future of Learning
To produce employees who are constantly retooling to meet job challenges, organizations need a new learning system driven by intentional learning connections.
During the last 25 years, technology has dramatically changed the way people live, from the Internet and email to hand-held devices and digital entertainment. However, during that same time, little has changed in preparing workers for a globally connected world. The learning system itself is still the same content-driven, certification-based process developed in the Industrial Age of the 19th century. The only difference is today technology often supports training delivery.However, the shifting workforce and workplace demand a change in the approach to learning. “More than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and Gen X, that sits right behind them, is too small to fill the void,” said Karie Willyerd, co-author of The 2020 Workplace. “That means millennials, people born after 1977, will fill the gap. They are sometimes called digital natives because they expect to learn, to get knowledge, and to connect with other people digitally.” This demand for virtual connections and knowledge sharing will grow more insistent as workforce demographics change. Consequently, static, content-driven systems will not be able to satisfy the digital natives who seek more dynamic and organic information to do their jobs.To produce effective workers for tomorrow’s organizations, development needs to be centered in relational knowledge transfer, but in a way that aligns with organizational competencies, development goals and measurable learning gains. “With the impending retirement of many current leaders in the workforce, it is essential that companies focus on developing leadership capabilities at even lower levels in the organization so that there is a strong pool of talent that will be ready to move into those leadership positions,” said Missy Ballew, senior manager of global talent management at Hewlett-Packard (HP).Learning leaders can pave the way for this type of development by shifting their focus to more connection-based learning that includes both traditional training approaches and ad hoc learning opportunities via Web 2.0 systems such as social networking and online collaboration systems. Holding it all together will be a true social learning system that provides enough structure to focus and measure learning, and allow for relationally driven connections. This is the future of learning and development (Figure 1).
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