If you have been closely associated with matters around employee training, you might have noticed a subtle shift in the jargon that the global community has started to prefer and use – words like ‘learning’ and ‘development’ instead of ‘training’. The question is – Why?
The coming in of the Web 2.0 has made it possible to push boundaries for all types of consumers. Information is ubiquitous and available for anyone who wants to pull it from the cloud and use it to one’s advantage – be it finding out the best neighborhood hospital, making a reservation, shopping online or even downloading a book – the natural course of web development is towards shifting more and more power in the hands of the consumer. Tell your kids about the times when people had to physically go and book a rail ticket or sit in libraries for days at a stretch; the appalled look you’re likely to see on their faces is a natural reaction of a generation for which everything is fluid and always ‘available’. By fluid, we mean it’s constantly moving, information is constantly moving, blurring the lines that previously existed.
Employees at the workplace are consumers elsewhere. They too, are naturally exposed to these new experiences and technologies. While some form of formalized training might be essential, sending them for hard core sessions every now and then contradicts the lifestyle they typically lead. Organizations that are yet to do so must make a paradigm shift from ‘training’ to ‘learning’. And it’s not just a change of terminology, but of strategy. Because training is restrictive (in terms of physical presence or geographical location for example), formal and rigid whereas learning is all pervasive, fluid and liberating.
Learning Management Systems are, and will continue to be the means to this end – bringing learners on to a commonly shared platform and onboarding various devices to make the process more powerful yet effortless.The mantra is to mandate only what’s necessary and empower as much as you can. E-learning can connect employees and resources from across the globe while giving them more control of how and where they learn. Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones need a special mention here because these are essentially the drivers of this technological decade and can connect the dots in the overall employee development such as by providing on-the-job or performance support. This is a prerequisite for blurring the lines of formalized training and emphasizing instead on career development to nurture a more satisfied and loyal workforce.
Be alarmed though, as the purpose here is not to be device centric. Rather it is to be learning centric. Jumping on to a mobile learning in a haste just because it sounds next-generation will raise serious questions about how instructors will approach the contextual use of these devices. Remember: the main purpose is to create more potential for shared thinking, creativity and development.
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