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What is learning and development? Learn about organizational learning

Everything you need to know about learning and development and how you can work with organizational learning. 

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What is learning and development?

Learning and development (L&D) are necessary elements for employees and companies to grow, thrive, and stay innovative throughout the employee lifecycle. L&D can consist of both physical training activities on-the-floor, courses, a flow of digital learning content, stretched learning, microlearning, social learning or a combination of all (Blended learning). 

However, L&D is often seen as fluff, as something extra that is nice-to-have for the employees. On the contrary, L&D is often crucial to upskill and reskill workers to respond to future needs and changes.

Employees today want to grow and develop, and for companies to stand-out they must focus on L&D to attract talents and keep the talent inhouse. Moreover, organizations and companies can create a strong learning culture and experience a boost in employee performance and efficiency, increase sales numbers with sales training, and drive business transformation.   

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Why learning and development?

Employee development through learning methods is important to make both employees and companies grow and thrive. L&D can add value to companies’ bottom lines, and, at the same time, connect to employees’ wellbeing and retention at the workplace.

 

why l and d

The importance of learning and development

Today, a job is more than just receiving a pay check. 94 % of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if they invested in their learning according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report.

Furthermore, according to the 2021 report, upskilling and reskilling is the top priority (59 %) for L&D pros globally including a 15 % increase from June 2020. A popular topic is for leaders to learn more soft skills.

As the globalization and the digital revolution transform the way we work, so does the need for continuous learning and development. Employees need the right skills to do their jobs today, tomorrow, and in the future. Digital HR is moving fast in response to this. But learning is so much more than artificial intelligence and chatbots

Creating a great learning culture at the workplace can kickstart more innovation, motivation, engagement, and job satisfaction. Furthermore, it is a great tool for employer branding purposes and attracting new talents to the company.

Learning Theory and strategy for companies

Let's introduce you to different learning theories you can use in organizational learning.

learning theory

What is Learning Theory?

There is no one way street when it comes to learning something new. Yes, we are all human and we share the same biomass and a lot of the same DNA. But we are still different individuals with different needs and wants. With this combination in mind, we can walk to the land of learning theories and explore how we can create learning content that fits different personalities and circumstances with a shared human aspect in mind.

 

70-20-10 Learning Model

The 70-20-10 learning model was designed by Morgan McCall, Professor Emeritus of Management and Organization at USC Marshall. The model simply splits the way we learn into three pieces:

  • 70 % of our learnings come from handling challenges during our workday.
  • 20 % of our learnings come from when we go into dialogue with one another – also called Social Learning.
  • 10 % of our learnings come from training, such as courses, digital learning, and the like.

However, the numbers do not always translate directly into each organization or individual, and that is why we can talk about another variant of the 70-20-10-model called the OSF-model. Here, the way we learn are still split into three pieces, but the numbers might be different, for example, 50-30-20 instead. The letters stand for On-the-job (O), Social (S), and Formal (F).

Speaking about the OSF-model we now move into the different areas of thinking learning, and how the human brain works when we need to learn something new.
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Learning Psychology

Text, text, and more text. It can be quite boring to learn something new, if text is the only content you engage with. And, at the same time, it is harder for the brain to retain the knowledge. Using visuals instead is a greater idea, because our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

And here, live images can be even better. This does not mean video only, even though it is a good idea because more of our senses get stimulated (audiovisual) but using moving illustrations and gifs can also boost knowledge retention. This is also why digital learning has become much more popular - as we now can save time going from classroom training to digital learning.

Our memory is complex

From a compliance training perspective, it is about designing learning content that prevents people from breaking the rules. This can be tricky because, if there are not any consequences here and now, people might find it hard to relate. When you design compliance training, and often any other training as well, it is important that you put ‘me’ on the spot. What’s in it for me? And what can happen if ‘I’ break the rules? Just one person can release a major crisis that can damage both the company reputation and revenue.

Our memory is complex, and when we design learning content, we want the learners to remember – also a year later. It is important for their competency development. Here, we can talk about the declarative memory and nondeclarative memory.

The nondeclarative memory is for example, how to ride a bike. It is something the body remembers, but not something you can explain you can, you just do it.

The declarative memory is, for example, factual knowledge about how tall Mount Everest is, but also episodic memory about situations you can remember.

These two connect, so, if you want to be better at remembering how tall Mount Everest is, it helps if you have been there physically. Because the more active your brain is, the easier it is to learn something new.

In other words: The more senses you use, the more you learn. Do you watch something, and do you listen to something at the same time, or interact with the content, then you learn more and can probably recall the new knowledge afterwards.

The modern learner has 1 % available a week for learning

Humans have a natural pleasure in learning something new, and this pleasure can be stimulated by making learning content and training more playful and give the feeling of that you have completed something valuable. The is quite a benefit in employee growth and development.

The modern learner only has 1% available a week to learn something new, and that is why thinking about how to boost and being creative with learning content (with learning psychology in mind) is a great idea to find out how to use this time the best way possible.   

Research

Nordic Learning Trends Report 2020

The five educational learning theories

Cognitive

The cognitive learning theory is focused on how our brain works and the way we think. This is especially a good theory to use, when we create compliance training, where we need to make people follow rules and guidelines. As we just mentioned, our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and that is why you should not add a lot of text, when you want people to remember to be compliant.   

Behaviorism 

Behaviorism is in the word. It is all about behavior. The theory here, is that behaviors are connected to the environment a person interacts with. It is not about what happens inside of us, our genes that mold us in a specific way. No, it is about all the external factors that make us react in a certain way. 

Positive reinforcement is one of the key elements of behaviorism. It is about giving positive feedback and rewards that a student can strive for, and when a wanted behavior is performed, you will get rewarded for doing so.    

Constructivism  

Constructivism is about creating your own learning based on previous experiences. This is a way more active approach, when you think about learning. Here, the focus is on the student or the user/learner, when we think corporate learning. They should create their own unique learning mixed with previous experience.

This is something we see in the trend user-generated content (UGC), where the users themselves generate content for the learning platforms their employers use. These types of content can be, for example, videos on how to solve specific tasks, PowerPoint-presentations, and the like, that can benefit the rest of the organization’s employees.    

Humanism  

Humanism is somewhat similar to constructivism, because, here, we again focus on the individual and their self-actualization, which is the top part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where all our basic needs has been fulfilled. At the top of the pyramid, you feel like the best possible version of yourself.

So, humanism is about creating the best environment possible for humans to thrive, so, they can reach the top of the pyramid faster. It is about making sure, that the basic needs are fulfilled. In corporate learning, we can see this, for example, when we make sure that learning content is accessible and available whenever and wherever it suits the learner to learn.

Connectivism

Connectivism is about (surprise) connections, and when we connect with other people we learn and grow. But we can also form connections with more than people. It can be a certain hobby, our job role, or a certain goal.

In corporate learning, we can, for example, see connectivism thrive in social learning aspects (the 20 percent mentioned in the 70-20-10 model). When we speak and interact with each other about learnings, we often see new angles, and can reflect more on a subject, leading to learning even more. This could also be set up as social learning feature in a learning platform, where employees can interact with each other digitally and socialize over a new type of learning content.  

The 4 learning styles

Now, when we have touched upon the different learning theories, which you can apply to make people learn better, it is time to dig deeper into the big topic: One-size-rarely-fits-all.

People learn differently according to their personalities, and we can often divide people into these four typical types of learners called the reflector, the activist, the theorist, and the pragmatist. Not said that an individual can exclusively be a theorist or an activist, but, for example, be a little more activist with some drops of theorist imprinted in their learning DNA.

1. Reflector

The reflector loves to observe and absorb information about a certain topic. The reflector thrives the most when she gets the opportunity to think (a lot) before she acts.

This is why a reflector can be great on a team to see a lot of different angles on an issue, but not so much, when you have to finish a task. Because there will always be just one more angle to explore for the reflector.

When you create learning content for the reflector less is never more. The more information you can provide the better. Not said that this should be more boring PDFs cluttered with text. This could still be a mix of different formats, such as videos, articles, learning games, and the like.

2. Theorist 

Order and structure. This is the best way to learn for the theorist.

A theorist loves to gather a lot of knowledge, and then setting it all into systems. Furthermore, unlike the reflector, a theorist prefers to work on his own and can make conclusions based on the gathered knowledge.

When you create learning for a theorist, it is important that the quality is top notch. A theorist will sigh and shake his head if the quality of the learning content lacks and is not designed in a proper way.

3. Pragmatist  

Hands-on experience and testable scenarios are just up the pragmatist’s alley. It is in the word: a pragmatist wants to do something in practice and learn accordingly. A pragmatist and a reflector can easily become fisty with each other, metaphorically speaking, because a pragmatist hates when something takes up a lot of time – they are eager to just get going. And unlike, the theorist, they do not want to read a manual from cover to cover, they want to jump right ahead and try it out for themselves. When you create learning for a pragmatist, it could be fun to experiment with virtual reality (VR), and let the pragmatist learn, while they try out virtual scenarios close to real-life.

4. Activist  

Right now, and in my own way. This is how the activist prefers to learn something new. An activist easily gets bored and is very impulsive. A downside to the activist is that she often says yes to a lot of different tasks, and, at the same time can have a hard time finishing them up.

But on the other hand, the activist’s impulsive nature can also lead to hurricanes of ideas that provide the team with alternative solutions to solve a problem.

An activist loves to experience while they learn, so make sure to create learning filled with interactions such as learning games, and put it into a microlearning format, where the activist not necessarily needs to spend a lot of time on the learning.

Read more about the 4 learning styles.

Practice, methods and processes in organizational learning

Learning theories can be interesting to read about, but how do we actually transform them into action? In this section, you can read more about all the practical stuff, and how learning methods can help you create great L&D programs in your organization.

best lms

6 different learning development processes and methods

Blended Learning

The best of both worlds. That is the essence of blended learning. Physical training events on the floor assisted by digital learning are a way to go, when you want to hit multiple learning styles at the same time. In a blended learning context, you can optimize the time spent on a course, for example.

So, instead of the instructor unloading a lot of knowledge on the learners in class/on the floor, this knowledge can be transformed into digital learning activities, such as podcasts, videos, gamified or interactive activities. Therefore, the time spent in the physical training event can be optimized and used for discussions, reflections, and how to interpret the learning in real-life scenarios. Whereas focus once was on custom e-learning we have really come far now with blended learning.

Gamification

The definition of gamification is when you use game-mechanics in a non-game context. In a learning setting, it can be using elements such as: Rewards, storytelling, creating your own character, empowering visual landscapes, clear goals, and – of course – a lot of interaction. You can boost your learning results by using gamification, because you involve the learner to a much higher level. In a gamified learning setting, they cannot just lean back and press play, they must actively engage with the learning content.

There are many reasons this kind of modern e-learning is so effective.
Methods as gamification are of the reasons e-learning has moved so much further than we know it. 

Stretched Learning

Stretched learning is when you carefully spread your learning activities over time for your learners. This prevents information overload, and let the learners catch, grasp, and reflect on the new knowledge. Some of the elements when using a stretched learning strategy are:

  • Having a maximum of one or two learning goals for each activity
  • Making room for reflection after each activity
  • Making it clear where to get support
  • Scheduling learning aligned to context
  • Making room for hands-on activities

Splitting up the learning to smaller digestive pieces called microlearning.

Microlearning

Microlearning is any short learning content, chunked into small, manageable pieces. This can for example be: online videos, articles, and interactive games.

Microlearning is best for:

  • People who have very short attention spans
  • Learning a lot of content in a short amount of time
  • Learning at your own pace
  • Businesses needing to teach employees new skills
  • Smart-phone, laptops, and tablet devices

The concept of microlearning is that the learning experience can happen in a short amount of time; therefore, it has to entertain. Providing content that is humorous or has some sort of unique factor is key to making it stand out and have people continue to engage with it.

Mobile Learning

It is in the word. This type of learning is adapted for mobile devices, and it is great for learners to be in control of when and where they want to complete learning content. Mobile learning content, must of course still be entertaining, so, do not forget to include interactive elements and visuals. 

AI & Recommendations

If you are into the cool tech stuff, then you probably already know about Artificial Intelligence (AI). But do you know how it works in digital learning?

When you want to reskill an employee into another function internally, AI recommended learning can come in handy.

This is learning recommended to you personally, if you want to get the right skills to move into this particular function. And now, we are talking recommendations... AI in corporate learning is all about personal recommendations.

These are some typical examples of personal recommendations an AI technology can give to you in a learning setting:

  • Upskilling opportunities based on your job profile in specific industry
  • Based on your own interests
  • What learning content did your teammates/organization complete?
  • Most popular learning content others completed with the same job profile as you
  • Best time of day to complete learning content based on your habits

AI can also work as virtual assistants in a shape of a chatbot, and, furthermore, AI can provide admins with deep and advanced analytics.

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