Every year at Kineo, we interview a group of our customers – taking a slice of the market and sharing those insights back with you. This year’s Learning Insights 2015 report, has loads of nuggets. But rather than recap them all here, I want to dig into the one that I’ve been thinking the most about, which was our very first question. We asked, “What’s been the biggest surprise in the last 10 years?”
The big game changer? Why technology, of course. Over the last ten years, with the rise of search engines, smart phones and tablets, and access to the wisdom of the crowd through social media, we find answers to our burning questions very differently than we did just ten years ago. As one of our interviewees said, “It’s much more about now. I want to learn this and I want to learn it now.” (Shades of Veruca Salt, eh? I want some candy and I want it now!)
How learners find information
My husband has become my in-resident car mechanic, pretty much willing to tackle any car problem. He’s not a trained mechanic, but he’s got access to a lot of resources that can help him solve the problems he’s trying to solve. Last summer he decided to fix the air conditioner in our 17-year old car. This involved recharging Freon and a lot of troubleshooting and switches and fancy car stuff.
What did he do? First, he set himself a goal. He wanted to fix the air conditioner so we could get through the hot month of August.
Next? He googled it, of course. He searched, he found videos, he read forums.
Then he was ready to experiment. He bought some supplies at the auto parts store. He tried a thing or two. And the air conditioner still didn’t work.
He scratched his head and pondered and went and did some more research. He tried again. This went on for a few cycles.
And then, finally, one hot day in August, cool air once again flowed through our black car.
He went back to the forums and shared his experience. And I sat in the car enjoying the sweet breeze of success.
What did he not do? He did not take a class at our local Vocational Tech School (although he does jokingly chide himself for choosing to get a Masters Degree in English over a Vocational Technical degree). He did not get a certified in air conditioning repair. He did not find a self-paced elearning course (although maybe if he’d stumbled on the right one it would’ve done the trick).
He went out and found what he needed in a way that worked for him. He tried things out and he was willing to make mistakes. It took him a few days, but he solved the problem just in time for the hot days of summer to strike the dark interior of our car.
He learned, naturally.
If you ask a group of people at any learning conference if they’ve solved any of their own home-based problems in a similar fashion, chances are most of the room will raise their hands. (Toilet repair is a big one!) But then if you ask them if employees in their organizations are able to find the answers to their work-related questions in the same way, well, most of the hands drop.
One of our interviewees said, “Learners now expect instant, easily available learning content that’s quick to go through, is bang up to date, and looks and feels as good as the games they play and the websites they browse.” Exactly.
My big burning question right now is are we creating natural learning environments within our organization? Does your corporate training environment resemble my husband’s experience in any way? How do people problem solve and learn the unexpected when they’re working at your company? Can they search and find what they need? Can they talk to other people about what they’ve learned and discovered? Or must they seek out unnatural means, tools and systems that actually disrupt the learning and working process rather than support it?
It may be a big about face for your organization, if you’ve been building event-based training for the past 10 years. Be it a 60 slide PowerPoint decks turned elearning courses or two-day classroom training programs, it may be time to go au natural and add some different things to your mix.
So what’s been your big Learning Insight this year? Be sure to read our Learning Insights 2015 report and then join the discussion on 28 April where we will be hosting a live webinar with tips and examples on how your organization can take on today's challenges.