Are You a Modern Learner?

by Crystal Kadakia

We design learning for an increasingly diverse environment, spanning regions, ages, generations, functions, and roles. But are you a modern learner? What does it mean to be a modern learner?

Picture the last time you needed new information or to learn a new skill, personally or professionally. How did you discover the answer? Chances are, you used a search engine, read articles, or watched videos until you closed your knowledge gap. You may have also asked a friend, colleague, or social network for the answer. The content you found was probably rated by others as good content and may have even been crowdsourced and created by someone who isn’t a known expert.

A modern learner is someone who is in an environment where content changes fast and learning needs change even faster. Modern learners want answers right away and rely on a wide variety of sources to find the answer. In other words, almost everyone today is a modern learner!

Consider the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years: the evolution of digital technology, globalization, and demographic shifts including the diverse generations in today’s workplace. These have created a new world of learning. Digital technology has created more ways of learning, more immediacy, and an increased pace of change. Globalization means employees often work across countries to accomplish new challenges. Having five generations in the workplace today has created a need for personalization. There is a wide variety of learning needs and methods that work better based on the individual. As a result, the expectations of learners have changed:

Learning organizations that were designed to focus on traditional classroom and formal training programs now must move into the realm of modern learning. Modern learners expect company-offered tools and guidance to satisfy their need for immediate learning and learning through social interactions and platforms.

As a human capital professional, the best way to help you and your organization move toward modern learning is to first understand your own learning needs and preferences. What are some of your preferences today and how have they changed over time? In our research, we found nine key elements common in modern learning programs. How well do these resonate with your experience?