Workplace Learning Today: Why Everything and Nothing has Changed

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Workplace learning in today’s world is about using technology to put the right content at employees’ fingertips at the right time— easy access to knowledge, knowledge sharing, and training at-the-desk and on-the-go so they can lead their path of continuous improvement. A lot of these developments are new, emerging alongside widely available digital technologies such as computers and smartphones, apart from widespread internet connectivity.

In this blog post, we discuss and summarise this webinar titled Workplace Learning Today: Why Everything and Nothing has Changed with Donald Taylor and Vasanthi Balasubramanian. Donald is a veteran on L&D and is Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute. Vas is President at Origin Learning and strives to create innovative solutions that best fit the needs of a varied clientele.

You can signup and watch the full webinar here.


The premise of this discussion is that while training modalities and technological advancements have continued to improve over the years, especially in the past decade, the fundamentals of how we learn have not changed in millennia.

Learning has always been a tool to survive in a risky environment and therefore the reward was high, often life and death. In the modern world and by extension in the modern workplace, the circumstances that drive us to learn are, fortunately, not as dire.

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Nevertheless, an understanding of why modern L&D has embraced technology is essential to further explore the synergy between the two, and can lead to even more innovative ways of training/teaching.

What has changed in Workplace Organizational Learning?

In today’s world, there is a need, unlike never before, to shift from traditional classroom training to online learning. This shift was growing rapidly in the past few years but the COVID-19 pandemic has, in a way, revolutionized how we view the digital world and its capabilities.

Understanding how to make the shift to online training or other forms of virtual instructor-led training will dictate the success of millions of students and teachers moving from traditional classrooms to the virtual classroom.

Information is (almost) free

Information and its availability has been revolutionized by the introduction of the internet. We can obtain almost any knowledge on a mind-boggling number of topics sitting in the comfort of our own homes.

All it takes to have access to this vast library of information is an internet account.

Data dominates Learning and Development

Based on the Global Sentiment Survey of 2020, from 6591 votes, the following facets of administering and managing modern workplace learning were deemed most important:

  1. Learning Analytics
  2. Personalization/Adaptive Delivery
  3. Collaborative/Social learning
  4. Learning Experience Platforms
  5. Artificial Intelligence

What do all these have in common? Each of those facets of modern L&D is dependent almost entirely on data and analytics.

Data dominates what we think about and the way we solve our problems in the modern workplace learning environment. It has become important for users, Instructional Designers as well as companies aiming to make the most of their Learning and Development initiatives.

Fractal LXP for Learning Analytics

The Shifting Perspective of Workplace Learning

Key developments in data analytics and the availability of big data has transformed how L&D professionals approach workplace training.

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The shift has been created three interesting questions in training and development:

  • What should I deliver?
  • How can I effectively deliver training?
  • Why should the business care for L&D?

The New Now: Workplace Learning During the Pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, key interactions between people have moved online. We are now more engaged with the internet than ever before.

This has been a long time coming for workplace learning. Technology has enabled us to take advantage of the reach that the internet can provide. But there was never the impetus such as the ongoing pandemic, to push this shift forward

At Origin, Vas notes the following changes:

  • L&D professionals are seeing up to 10x increase in online users
  • More companies are interested in vILT/eLearning than ever before
  • Increased number of Compliance/Hygiene/Awareness courses

What hasn’t changed?

Keeping the Brain Engaged Leads to Better Learning

Countless experiments show that when the brain learns something new, it is in the context of new knowledge as a means of survival. (Smith, Bjork,, and Glendale, 1978, The Variation Effect). This famous experiment showed that the human brain is constantly perceiving a lot of information to scan the environment for “threats”.

This can be manipulated to the advantage of learners because learning in two different environments, one dull and the other more engaging, was shown to aid in better recall.

In the context of modern learning technology, engaging content in a visually stimulating online environment can lead to better retention of learning.

Nudging: Behavioral Science to help students

Nudging is a concept in behavioral science, political theory, and behavioral economics that proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals.

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One of the key challenges that businesses face today is ensuring knowledge retention for a better ROI in Learning and Development initiatives. It is found that almost 60% of the knowledge is lost in less than an hour after learning. One of the key reasons for this is the lack of reinforcement. Nudging your learners with reinforcement training material on a recurrent basis could be one of the best ways to improve knowledge retention.

Here too, Learning Technology such as Learning Experience Platforms can make nudging a process that is integrated into the mechanism of learning deployment.

Key Takeaways from the Webinar

L&D during and after COVID-19, Version 3, Donald H Taylor May 2020

Learning and Development during and after COVID-19 is a great transition to virtual learning. Technology can be harnessed to better serve the needs of learners all over the world if we also understand the mechanisms of learning for the human mind.


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