Meet Learners

What are your learners terms? How do they want to experience training?

As you know, the world of learning is changing.Think about the last thing you had to learn something new while you were working on something…take a moment… did you dive in to a long book or a long course? Maybe, but I bet first you turned to Google, Youtube or some other source that would allow you to quickly get the answer to complete the task at hand. And you are a learning professional who probably creates formal training events for a living.


Each month there are over 11 billion Google searches! If you are like 75% of Americans, you are using Google to get the basics of what you need to solve an immediate knowledge gap. More than ever before, people are demanding the ability to get answers immediately to even their toughest challenges. This is happening both at home and at work.


Combine that with the fact that more than 2/3 of Americans have a computer in their pockets and check it every 6 seconds, they expect to be able to also use it in their work. It is much easier (admit it) to look something up just in time and when you need it than to log into a learning management system and try and search through a long course to try and get their answers.


So there in lies the opportunity that we all have. How do we get the learner to engage more with our training at their moment of need, not just when the training is available and/or scheduled? How do we leverage the devices that exist or better yet, that our learners already have to leverage the important training that we need them to have to increase their performance results?


Here are 5 ways to look at meeting learners on their terms:

1. Remember Adult Learning Principle #1: Adults are internally motivated and self-directed.


How: Change your mindset about how people learn and want to consume new information. Think of ways to help facilitate their learning and provide solutions that will help them direct their own learning retention.


Potential Solution: Start thinking about the informal learning and performance support opportunities that exist outside of formal training.


2. Bring short learning opportunities to the learners WHERE they want it.


How: Allow just in time and personalized learning to individuals where they want it. Phone, tablet, PC should all available and leveraged for learning.


Potential Solution: Allow the use of mobile devices. Design solutions that will play on any device a learner has. Use responsive design techniques to ensure that people can use any device they want to get just in time learning.


3. Build a community where people can share and post content/stories/examples of how they have applied the techniques and content you are teaching.


How: Think about the experience that exists when people are together in a classroom or conference. What is it about those experiences that allows people to connect? Re-create that online by facilitating connection and relationships.


Potential Solution: Create an area on your intranet or internet site that allows people to connect and share in the way that works best for them. Encourage video, audio or other ways of sharing so they have a rich experience outside of the classroom or training. People learn best with stories and experiences of others. Make that available to them to help them see 1. they aren’t the only person that has had the issue and 2. the ways in which others solved it.


4. Think like a marketing guru. Think bite size chunks.


How: Break things down to pick out the core pieces of knowledge that will help people get to various levels of competency. Look for ways to help people get the pre-training information before they need a deep dive, performance support while they are learning and post-training information and practice they will need after the training is over.

Your course design efforts should now include not only the formal training event design but the information elements that surround that learning event. Map out each one as it relates to the level of performance or behavior change that is expected for that learner. Remember always that the majority of real learning happens “around” the formal event and look for ways to influence and effect that experience.


Potential Solution: You will create small, bite size learning pieces that will allow them to “google” the answers they need to solve their issue or knowledge gap within your content. Wouldn’t it be great if people were truly able to use their device to get the answers or model that you outlined in the formal training session when they needed it instead of getting a different model outside of the organization using a search engine?


5. Watch your learners – find out how they are using your training and their preferences.


How: Get out there and really look at how people are learning. Where and how is it happening? You will get helpful information by asking the questions, but I challenge you to take it a step farther and watch them as they go through their day meeting and solving their own challenges.

Potential Solution: You will actually be able to truly see what will help a learner to gain competency in a particular area as well as what real challenges they have that they need solved just in time. Then you can truly build something that will address those challenges — and maybe even be able to add something more to your formal training.


Homework Assignment:

I challenge you to take one of your traditional more formal learning courses and look at ways to bring some of the knowledge into the realm of performance support by providing your learners with the ability to get what they need as well as where they need it — (at their fingertips) at their immediate moment of need.

Share your thoughts– Post your results below.