Creating a Digital Approach to Modern Learning

Whether to go digital is no longer a strategic question for corporate learning departments to ponder—it’s a necessity. For several years now, we’ve been aware of the changing modern worker and the need for L&D to also change how to support the evolving employee population. Several years ago, Josh Bersin introduced the Bersin by Deloitte infographic “Meet the Modern Learner.” In it, Bersin provides a snapshot of the modern worker profile, illustrating the battle L&D must engage in to compete for the workers’ time and attention to learning. As we fast-forward to 2019, much of what we know about the modern learner still holds true today; thus, the need for a digital approach to learning is not only still relevant, it’s essential.


Feeling overwhelmed and distracted
In Insights from IMPACT 2018, Josh Bersin shares that the average worker spends 25% of their time on emails and checks their phone 150 times a day. Yet, the average time an employee typically dedicates to learning for work is around 20 minutes a week or ~1% (Bersin 2017). This begs the question, why?

Keen to learn
In the war for talent, it’s worth noting that professional development is a critically important value proposition and key to attracting and retaining employees, as it is the #1 top reason why people want to join an organization … or leave it (Perring 2018). So, if the modern learner is keen to learn, why only spend 1% of their time learning?

Seeking timely and personalized content
Today’s modern worker wants relevant information that is available on the go and in the flow of their schedule. With the advent of mobile smartphones, content is now timely, personalized, and under the control of the employee. A significant portion of acquiring critical knowledge at work can now be done in the very moment it is needed. And, according to Treion Muller’s 7 Consumer Realities report, in moments of need, 96% of people turn to their phones and search for the answer.

Desiring to learn on demand … anywhere and anytime
Employees value the ability to find information at work the way they choose to get it at home—leveraging mobile smartphones and tablets to gain the knowledge they want, when they want it, and how they want it. According to an article by James Carson, the average person spends 2 hours a day on their smartphone, which increases to 3 hours for those 18–24 years old.

Preferring learning to be through on-the-job experience
Despite the popularity of mobile smartphones, the modern learner still places a premium on learning through on-the-job experience (94%)where they can take knowledge they’ve gained and apply it real time. This was the finding in user research conducted by Jane Hart, Director of the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning and the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), one of the world’s leading websites on learning trends, technologies, and tools. The results from her research continue to show that, for modern professionals, the least valued ways to learn at and for work are the traditional workplace learning activities: classroom training and eLearning (DIDACTICS). The most valued ways to learn for work are through the experiences and activities that happen as part of daily work (DOING), interaction with people (DISCOURSE), and the use of informal web content (DISCOVERY).

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