Lessons from learners: What L&D professionals need to know in 2017

The latest report from global workplace learning company Kineo shows how the demands of learners are evolving, prompting learning and development (L&D) professionals to rethink what they deliver


Matt Johnson, global managing director of Kineo, has a favourite saying: “The last thing a fish is aware of is the water in which it swims.” As the latest report from Kineo shows, requirements for workplace learning will continue to evolve during 2017 as learners increasingly bring learning habits and expectations from their everyday lives into work.

Mr Johnson expands on this cryptic analogy. “We’re all in danger of being unaware of what’s happening around us until it changes and in L&D this is more the case than ever before,” he says. “I’m not saying your world is about to change – I’m saying it already has. We must make sure we’re not limited by our own perspectives and that we’re ahead of what learners are demanding, not running behind them.”

Kineo’s latest annual Learning Insights report, published today, shows how the way in which we learn is changing faster than ever, with a greater focus on how content is delivered.

“Today, traditional e-learning may not be enough,” says Mr Johnson. “Learners want to browse, be entertained and be engaged with intelligent content, the same as they would if they were starting a new hobby or simply looking for information in their everyday lives. We’re all used to carrying at least one mobile device with us 24/7 and having a wealth of information at our fingertips.

“Last year new tech dominated our Learning Insights report as a game-changer for L&D. This year we can see that it’s more than that – it’s about how tech has completely changed our behaviour, our needs and our demands when it comes to learning, whether in or out of work.”

Tech has completely changed our behaviour, our needs and our demands when it comes to learning, whether in or out of work

The “always-on” culture is transforming L&D. Constant connection means that, as people are used to being able to Google something instantly, they want their learning opportunities and materials delivered in a similar way. They’re expecting knowledge at the time and place of need – not at a time prescribed by a formal training programme.

The L&D world is realising that this technological revolution is now putting learners in the driving seat. It is increasingly up to each person to shape their own career development. Individual learners will choose the learning resources they need and decide when and where they’ll access them.

“It’s pleasing that L&D professionals are beginning to recognise this change, but it does require them to adopt a new mindset as they accept their role is changing. Even if you work in L&D, you’re still a learner too. Don’t stop seeking new skills and tactics to keep your role relevant,” says Mr Johnson.

He offers three steps to L&D professionals to encourage greater engagement by learners.  “Start by talking to learners and find out what they want or need to know. Then find out how they want to receive it or how they learn outside work,” he says.

L&D professionals must begin curating content. “You don’t have to start from scratch. There’s a wealth of learning content already out there, some of which will be perfect for your learners’ needs. But you do need to filter it and make sure that what you’re offering is the best and the most relevant,” says Mr Johnson.

Connecting learning together is essential so that learners can see what their overall career development, beyond just one-off training interventions, looks like. Work in partnership with your learners and employees to create career pathways, he says.

“Thinking back to that fish, unaware of its surroundings, L&D professionals must continue to look up, assess their world and make a shift in their mode of operation,” Mr Johnson concludes. “Reading our new report is a great start.”

Download Learning Insights 2017 at bit.ly/learning-insights-17