Building Modern Independent Lifelong Learners

In my previous article introducing the Employee-Centred Learning & Development model, I explained that everyone needs to become an independent lifelong learner in the new world of work where there is no such thing as a job for life, and that organizations need workers to be lifelong learners too, and bring what they learn into the organisation. In fact, this is the only way to build a true “learning culture“.

So what does it mean to be an independent lifelong learner in the workplace– or a Modern Professional Learner as I refer to it?

First of all, modern professionals learn for many different reasons – not just because they have to, in order to become competent and compliant in their organisation – but because they want to, for their own personal and professional reasons. Here are some of those reasons:

  • To acquire a new body of knowledge or a new skill
  • To solve a performance problem
  • To improve the work they currently do
  • To keep up to date with what’s happening in their industry or profession
  • To prepare for the future
  • For inspiration
  • To innovate (i.e. do or think differently)
  • For the joy of learning

For modern professionals, learning is not something that happens just in education or training, but happens in many different ways every day both at work and on the Web

In other words, for modern professionals, learning is not something that has to be organised for them, they mostly organise it for themselves, and recognise that it can also happen accidentally or serendipitously as a by-product of doing something else. Hence, modern professional learning skills are not just about how to study or take a course online, but how to make the most of all the different experiences and opportunities they seek out and encounter.

The following diagram illustrates the key aspects of Modern Professional Learning.

So, how can you help your people become modern professional learners – or become one yourself?  My (newly updated) online resource, How to Become a Modern Professional Learner contains 60 Tasks in 6 main sections (that align with the key aspects in the diagram) as follows:

  1. Get Started – In this section, you will find out what it means to be a modern lifelong learner, and how to set up a Work/Learning Journal and a Digital Portfolio.
  2. Get the most out of your daily work experiences – In this section, you will find out how to record and reflect on your daily work experiences, make the most of your manager, and address your own performance problems.
  3. Learn constantly from your professional network – In this section, you will find out how to build a collection of people around you who will bring you value, and with whom you can interact and learn on an ongoing basis.
  4. Learn constantly from a flow of daily content on the Web – In this section you will discover some easy ways you can keep up to date with your industry and profession on a daily basis – as well as how you can ensure you stay on top of it all.
  5. Share relevant and useful stuff – In this section you will find out how to share what you learn and achieve with your colleagues – inside and outside your organisation.
  6. Use a formal process of professional self-development – In this section you will find out how to apply a formal process of professional self-development, if required to do so by your organisation.

Sign up here to access the resource.

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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 2018 as well as the resource for individuals How to become a Modern Professional Learner. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at