The case for the new role of a Modern Learning Advisor

“The biggest innovation in workplace learning will not come from new technology but from supporting people to learn continuously
and to manage their own learning.”
Jane Hart, 2017

In a number of previous articles in the MWL Magazine, I have explained how modern professionals now recognise that they learn in many different ways at, through and for work.

The standard approach of a L&D department is to design and deliver learning interventions to and manage employee learning CENTRALLY in some sort of learning platform,  e.g. a LMS to manage courses, or more recently in a Learning Experience platform to manage use of other types of content and interactions.

Standard roles for this L&D work include course designers, developers, trainers, and LMS administrators. However, whilst the work of these standard roles is currently being modernised: e.g. Instructional Designers have become i LX designers, and trainers have become facilitators, fundamentally their work is the same as it has always been – designing, delivering and managing learning.

But this standard approach  is no longer enough in the modern workplace, there is now need for a more modern approach of enabling and supporting learning, where individuals manage their own self-improvement and self-development.  This new approach requires a new role: a Modern Learning Advisor.

What is the rationale for this modern approach and new role? Here are 6 good reasons:

  1. L&D can’t create everything everyone needs to do their jobs. As it is, individuals are already doing things for themselves and by-passing L&D, so it is time to make a virtue of this fact, and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own continuous self-improvement and self-development.
  2. It is no longer appropriate for L&D’s focus to be just about developing content, making sure that employees learn from it and tracking their every move, but rather it needs to be about helping them develop modern learning skills so that every employee can become self-reliant and self-sufficient, and make the most of, and learn from all kinds of experiences and opportunities.
  3. One size doesn’t fit all, even if it using the latest technology trend (whether it be video or VR)!  It’s more about helping individuals identify what they need to self-improve and/or self-development and how they might do this in the most appropriate format or way for them.
  4. L&D can’t possibly manage everything everyone learns centrally. As it is,  a lot of what people learn (naturally) happens without them even realising it, and in most cases, they don’t want to record things on an enterprise platform.  So what they need is to  to reflect on, record and manage their own learning and achievements themselves – using their (self-selected) tools so that they own their own learning – and in such a way that they can demonstrate their achievements to current or future employers.
  5. But in fact, taking a greater interest in employees as individuals – with individual needs and preferences – and helping them to prepare for their own futures, they are more likely to stay in the organisation than seek employment elsewhere.
  6. Furthermore, by taking on this new role, a L&D department moves from being a “course order-taking” unit, to providing a more relevant service for the modern workplace.

But it is not  either/or approach.  It’s NOT either the traditional approach or the modern approach. There is room for both approaches, particularly there will still be a need for the design and management of essential (e.g. compliance, and regulatory) training. However,  introducing the new work of a Modern Learning Advisor, will mean that there are many more opportunities to help individuals learn in the modern workplace.

Are you interested on taking on the role of a Modern Learning Advisor? If so, it requires a new mindset, new skills and new work from the standard L&D roles.

New mindset

The role of the Modern Learning Advisor is about building and supporting self-reliant and self-sufficient modern professionals who make the most of, and learn from all kinds of experiences and opportunities to self-improve and self-develop. It’s not about designing, delivering or managing learning for them.

New skills

The Modern Learning Advisor will need to be someone who can “walk the talk” and demonstrate what it means to be a modern professional learner (MPL).  He/she will

  • have established a habit of continuous learning,  and learn something new every day
  • make the most of (and learn from) everyday work experiences – through problem-solving, interactions with their own manager, and their own team
  • manage their own self-development
  • have grown their own professional network
  • continuously keep up to date with their industry or profession in many different ways

New  work

The work of the Modern Learning Advisor will be to:

  • change mindsets, and prepare both individuals and managers for modern professional learning
  • help managers enable and support modern professional learning
  • help individuals acquire (or hone) modern skills for learning on the Web
  • help individuals make the most of, and learn from their daily work
  • help individuals manage their own professional development

Want some help with this? Our upcoming workshop, Supporting Continuous Independent Learning Workshop looks at these aspects of the work of the MLA.

Next article:  Here’s more about the work of the Modern Learning Advisor

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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. You can contact Jane at