If you’re an autodidact, you could be influencing the Learning and Development sector. In the age of the ‘Modern Learner’ autodidacts or self-taught people, can teach themselves far more easily thanks to the availability of on-demand information via tablets, smartphones and the myriad of online learning and research resources. It is the autodidacts in the professional world who have created the phenomenon of the Consumerization of Learning.

Any search engine worthy of its title will tell you that consumerization is ‘the reorientation of product and service designs to focus on, and market to, the end user as an individual consumer’. So, what has consumerization got to do with corporate learning?

1. Game, Set and Match to the End User

Don’t be put off, but we’re going to talk about tennis to help explain Consumerized Learning. Andre Agassi was one of the greatest tennis players of his era and in an interview with Harvard Business Review, Andre Agassi said,

‘Coaching is not what you know. It’s what your student learns. And for your student to learn, you have to ‘learn’ him. I think the great [coaches] spend a lot of time understanding where the player is. The day they stop learning is the day they should stop teaching.’ Agassi is talking about the player’s role in leading the learning.

2. 70:20:10

‘Coaching is not what you know. It’s what your student learns. And for your student to learn, you have to ‘learn’ him.’ 

Now let’s bring in Charles Jennings, Co-Founder at 70:20:10 Institute and one-time Chief Learning Officer for Thompson Reuters. His 70:20:10 Learning Model stated that 70% of actual learning is through Experience (actual practice, including On The Job Training), 20% is through Exposure to informal, social learning & coaching and only 10% through formal classroom courses and other Education.

Demystifying the Modern Learner

How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

Rather than the traditional model of employers deciding on training content and then delivering it (the 10% as stated by Mr Jennings), the phenomenon of the Modern Learner has given individuals the power to find, curate, and manage their own learning. The Modern Learner achieves their learning goals in the other 90% of Learning available. The learner as a consumer is now leading L&D.

3. Consumer Power

In more traditional learning environments employees take their assigned training sessions, but can then go on to find better ways to learn on their own. Why? Perhaps because what they have been prescribed isn’t right for them.

The traditional model of corporate training delivery was often a “one size fits all” product that delivered the same content to a broad range of people in exactly the same way. It might ignore the different learning paths taken by the people in the room.

Some prefer verbal narrative while others are avid readers, and some respond well to image led input or learning by doing. While many believe that finding enough time to learn is the main issue, the real problem lies in the content itself. People will engage with content they find relevant, useful and engaging.

Just as learning tools in the consumer world are moving out of the library and onto peoples’ phones and laptops, learning tools in the workplace are also shifting away from traditional sources and into the hands of everyday employees. Organizations should now be compelled to take a consumer-focused approach to creating and curating their corporate learning content.

4. Learning = Employability

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics and their Current Population Survey listed a spectrum of qualifications, each more in-depth and advanced than the next. Then they listed the weekly earnings of those who had attained a specific qualification but had gone no higher. They also listed the unemployment levels of each. Those with High School Diplomas earned 39% the weekly income of those with Professional Degrees. 8% of Diploma students were unemployed compared to 1.5% of Professional Graduates.

Only 25% of line managers have conversations with workers to set expectations before training and only 35% follow-up2. Only 15% of employees think that the training they get at work is actually useful for their job.

This compelling evidence is possibly why, in an age where University is much more accessible to people from all backgrounds, individuals are creating the demand for learning and not their employers.

In his recent Modern Learner research, Josh Bersin’s said, ”…create a great self-directed learning experience at work…the quality, experience and timeliness of your training and education is more important than ever.”

Higher Impact L&D organizations deliver 29% more learning through on the job experience, 13% more learning via collaboration and coaching, and most revelatory, 90% more learning through on-http://lp.learnlight.com/demystifying-modern-learner-ebookdemand resources1.

Let’s just reflect on that last number. Organizations who are understanding and exploiting the move to Consumerization of Learning can almost double the amount of training they deliver by tapping into the needs of Modern Learners who are the key to understanding what learning is needed.

5. Content Curation

A library of YouTube videos on the many ways to cook lasagna is enjoyable for people to watch, but it doesn’t help people excel in their career, nor will it improve team performance. However, a library of curated content on digital marketing skills, delivering presentations or negotiation skills can more effectively provide personal and professional growth and ultimately drive productivity.

Consumerization of Learning doesn’t just involve making learning content broadly available on demand, it also requires expertise in listening to demand, understanding individual learning needs, then serving both demand and specific needs with the right content.

Conclusion: The Consumerization of learning is here to stay

Consumerization of Learning makes it imperative to give up the rigid control that L&D teams traditionally have had over the learning decisions of their employees. Empowering learners and giving them choice within smartly curated content is the way ahead.

Only 25% of line managers have conversations with workers to set expectations before training and only 35% follow-up2. Only 15% of employees think that the training they get at work is actually useful for their job3.

Consumerization asks us to ‘focus on, and market to, the end user as an individual consumer’. Employers are now consumers. Learning is the product, and demand is growing fast. Are you ready to meet that demand?

Sources:
Bersin by Deloitte.2015 Corporate Learning Factbook.6/2015

2 CLO, Scrap Learning and Manager Engagement, 3/2011
Source: Saba Software / WorkplaceTrends.com, Global Workforce Leadership Survey, 3/2015