Webinar Summary: Designing for the Modern Learner

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Hosting thought-leaders, for thought-provoking discussions, is a regular affair at Origin Learning. Over the past several years, we have hosted guests from a wide spectrum of expertise ranging from pedagogy/educational science to specialized corporate eLearning practitioners. This webinar is the first in a series where thought leaders, practitioners, and providers can come together in an open conversation to discuss the most pressing issues with modern eLearning and the effective means to deal with them.

The current iteration of our endeavor brings to you two veterans of corporate eLearning: Elliott Masie of the MASIE Centre and Darrell Walker of Sailpoint.

This blog post is an abbreviated summary of the webinar discussion. To watch the entire recording, and other webinars hosted by us, you can head over to Unplugged by Fractal LXP.

Here is a list of topics that were covered during the webinar over a duration of 60 Minutes.


How has the pandemic disrupted the way we design learning solutions?

Elliott Masie first addresses the difficult time for companies in the context of corporate training during this on-going pandemic. Especially with respect to the rapid transformation to remote learning.

In nearly every country around the world, training and teaching have had to pivot very quickly to not just conduct the typical day-to-day Training (for a new skill, for a new role, or for new competencies), but also to support learners who are faced with a vastly new learning environment.

The pandemic has, in a direct way, forced us to be more creative with learning design. There are three problems that have had to be directly considered when designing solutions:

  1. Learners are more distracted
  2. Learners are more stressed
  3. Roles and expectations have changed
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The learning community, as a whole, not limited to just corporate learning but schools and universities, even music and religion, have risen to this challenge through the rapid adoption of the digital modalities.

According to Elliott, the question that lies ahead is, how do we make digital education great? And how do we make it sustainable? That becomes the challenge to look towards.

The Covid-19 pandemic has speed tracked Modern Learning  methodologies

Darrell Walker brings the practitioner’s perspective by acknowledging that the pandemic has been a forcing function in the evolution of learning.

The primary challenge that held back the digital transformation of learning has been a lack of urgency for developing the infrastructure necessary to sustain it. For example, the traditional learning management system, despite its shortfalls, has remained under the radar. In Darrell’s view, an LMS has been restrictive in our ability to train the workforce. The pandemic has forced us to go beyond the LMS and use modalities such as web conferencing software (Zoom, etc.) to deliver enablement.

Virtual training before the pandemic was a convenience offering, and not part of a training strategy, per se. This has changed in light of the pandemic. It has pushed us to discover an all-encompassing modality that does not compromise on features or effectiveness to train our workforce remotely.

Are L&D organizations prepared to meet the challenges of training the Modern Learner?

To answer this question, Elliott wants to look at how organizations set up training. The right way is to ask ourselves ”Is this what learners want?”. When learners are workers, they want to learn how to perform a task better and more efficiently. Companies should not look at users as students in need of a great curriculum, but as employees who want to learn how to perform. The challenge then is to provide learning content that engages users in a way that is conducive to their personal goals as well as the objectives of the organization.

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The two mistakes that learning managers should look out for in this regard are:

  1. To not teach users things they know already (to avoid boredom)
  2. To teach users the right things at the wrong time (as it wouldn’t stick)

Companies need to stop thinking about traditional metrics and think about how training can positively impact performance at the workplace.

For Darrell, as a practitioner, it is important to acknowledge that learners want information at their fingertips. The key is to provide what they need, when they need it, in one place.

The modern learner finds the content that they need by searching for it in a marketplace, and today, the entire internet is the primary source of finding information especially because it makes discovering the right content easy.

Learning content providers should strive towards this ideal. Of providing content on-demand, in succinct and engaging ways that can benefit specific learning objectives of the user.

How can legacy content be adapted for the Modern Learner and expand the shelf-life?

Elliott opines that the modern learner is overwhelmed with the amount of content that is available to them. This is why Learning Experience platforms are especially interesting. Looking beyond the technology, LXPs are useful for the culture that is fostered. LXPs empowers the user to decide how much time and what level of expertise they want to build in a given subject or expertise. This healthy feedback look creates a better relationship between the user and the learning process. Legacy content, to be adapted to the modern learner, needs to acknowledge that learners want the freedom to choose their learning path that fits their current needs and curiosity.

Darrell expands on the idea explored by Elliott by saying that adapting legacy content is possible through chunking. The attention span of the modern learner has shortened. By chunking content into microlearning modules, it becomes more accessible simply by virtue of addressing key segments of a larger learning objective as and when the user needs it, as opposed to hour-long modules that inevitably cause drop-offs.

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What is the role of AI in the future of Learning and Development

According to Darrell, AI is going to make hyper-personalization possible by putting the learner at the center of the learning process. This is because learning of the future is not confined to a system or tools or a singular platform. With the learner at the center and machine learning, data analytics, and all the components that make up AI working for them, technology can bring to users content that fits their social profiles based on their perceived personal preferences.

Elliott opines that AI-readiness is the future of personalized training. This is because incorporating AI enables a system to address the specific needs of users based on their existing capabilities, on a level that manual methods cannot hope to keep up. The other reason AI is important to the future of learning is that it allows content creators to make content delivery better. 

How can multi-dimensional learning be integrated into training programs?

According to Elliott, the real prerogative of multi-dimensional learning is to emulate the authenticity of an interactive experience in the same way an interpersonal interaction is in real life.

How can Learning Readiness be assessed?

Elliott feels that readiness need not be assessed using numbers, but as a state of “ready or not ready”. Learning readiness can be assessed through self-assessment.

For Darrell, from an enablement point-of-view, readiness is measured at the end-users metrics, through various KPIs that fit the particular enablement process. 


The webinar discussion brings to light what the future of eLearning design should look like and how we can get there. Personalization, chunking of content and data analytics will play an important role in modern learning methodologies. 

To watch this full webinar recording and many others, follow this link.


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