10 Myths about Modern Workplace Learning

First published in September 2017

Here are 10 misconceptions about Modern Workplace Learning (MWL).

1 – MWL simply means modernising training.
No. It is much more than modern training. It means a modern approach to learning at work – recognising and valuing all the ways that people learn at, through and for work – not just in training, but as they do their daily jobs as well as on the Web. MWL means a new organisational learning mindset.

2 -MWL is all about using new trends and technologies to design and deliver modern learning experiences, e.g.

  • moving training from the classroom to e-learning – so everything is online
  • using social learning – making people discuss things with one another in courses
  • using mobile learning – turning e-courses into mobile courses
  • using micro learning – chunking courses up into small pieces
  • using virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality

No. Whilst all these trends and technologies have their place, it is not just about using the latest technology in training, but rather helping to find the right solution for a problem. This might be some sort of training, but there might well be another more appropriate non-training solution.

3 – MWL is all about thelearner”.
No. People don’t go to work to (e-)learn; they go to work. So, they are primarily employees or workers (rather than learners), but ultimately individuals with different needs and interests. The term “learner” conjures up images of sitting in a classroom or at the desktop ploughing through an e-learning course! In the workplace, it is better to think in terms of the “modern professional” or “modern employee” rather than the “modern learner”.

4 – MWL means providing personalised learning for every individual.
No. It’s about helping individuals to develop their own personal learning strategies that suit them and their needs.

5 – MWL is all about “learning”.
No. MWL is a much wider concept. It’s about (new and improved) performance, individual and team growth, and professional career development.

6 – MWL is all about ensuring individuals can do TODAY’S’ jobs.
No. It is also about preparing for the future. It is not just about providing modern courses or resources for individuals to do their current work, but building and supporting a new skillset for the modern workplace.

7 – MWL means using gamification to improve engagement (and learning) at work.
No. Gamification doesn’t necessarily result in engagement nor learning. People only learn when they are motivated and have a purpose to do so – and the greatest motivation and purpose is to keep themselves marketable and employable.

8 = L&D is responsible for MWL.
No. Everyone is responsible for what they learn. L&D might take responsibility for designing and delivering modern learning experiences (where required), but managers are responsible for the growth of their team members, and individuals are responsible for their own self-improvement and self-development.

9 – MWL means tracking everything everyone learns in a central learning platform.
No. Whilst it will be important to have central records for compliance and regulatory purposes, it doesn’t mean trying to achieve the impossible task of tracking everyone’s learning. Rather, it means helping individuals to manage their own learning and development – using their own personally-selected tools – and maintain a record of their own achievements that they can take with them throughout their career.

10 – MWL means there is no role for L&D in the future workplace.
No. But the profession now needs to adapt to the new world of workplace learning – one where it is no longer solely about L&D directing and managing training. Instead L&D needs to provide a broader service that includes encouraging, enabling, guiding, facilitating and supporting all the ways people learn at, for and through – as and when it is needed.

Want to find out more about Modern Workplace Learning? Visit Modern Workplace Learning 2019

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart helps organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops and bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including Modern Workplace Learning 2020 as well as the resource for individuals How to become a modern Learner. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at Jane.Hart@C4LPT.co.uk.