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Oct 2017

The 5 skills you need when working in L&D

Blog posts

Steve Lowenthal

Steve Lowenthal

CEO at Kineo US

As with any profession, working in L&D has its unique challenges. The elearning industry is an ever-changing one, and since our founding in 2005 we’ve worked to help move it forward and stay on the cutting edge. However, as more organizations embrace elearning and cultivate unique, holistic learning experiences in general, it’s important to take a look at what it means to be a good L&D professional. Below, we’ll examine five key skills that we think are integral to working in L&D.

  1. Stay ahead of the curve

    The entire elearning industry is constantly evolving and technological is certainly a driver of this change.  It’s important to stay ahead of the curve.  You don’t necessarily need to go out and purchase the latest and greatest laptop and smartphones the second they hit the market, but understanding how technology - including software, applications, and media, continues to evolve and be put to use in new ways is important. One good source of inspiration is Fast Company’s Technology Page
  2. Get with the tech

    One of the most important aspects of working in L&D is making sure that you’re not only staying up to date on the latest and greatest technological innovations but understanding and being open to how they can be applied to elearning. Any time something new hits the market there can be some initial hesitation to incorporating it into projects until it’s been tried and tested… but the only way for them to be tried and tested is to jump in and do it! If a client is eager experiment with adding VR to their elearning experience, get familiar with its technical components and work with your clients and your team to incorporate it in a thoughtful, useful manner. Any time the opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done before comes up, it’s great to meet it initially with excitement. Even if, down the line, it turns out that it may not be completely feasible, your willingness to embrace the concept and try to make it work will impress both your clients and your colleagues.
  3. Get ready to be a little sales-y

    Sometimes, you’ll find that pursuing a career in L&D means having to push for management support and buy-in. One of the best ways to make your case is to do your research and be prepared to go to bat for the reasons why L&D will help promote productivity, cost efficiency, etc. Take a look around your organization and see how other departments, such as finance or sales and marketing, are pushing their agendas forward and then take a page out of their books.
  4. Embrace the crowd

    It seems that these days everything is crowdsourced or crowdfunded and, to an extent, elearning is no different. Social learning is becoming a huge component of an effective elearning strategy these days, and there are sure to be even more advancements in this space as time goes on. For now, work on embracing collaboration in the real world and also digging into how you can increase collaboration throughout the learning experience. Also, consider how other means of social media might impact your learning. For example, learners might head to YouTube to check out a tutorial video on how to operate a piece of software if they’re having trouble with it - consider adding some content curation components to your learning experience and cherry picking the best tutorials, so you can select which pieces of crowd created content will be used by your learners, and hopefully help them to avoid confusion by keeping only the most relevant and helpful materials right at hand.
  5. Look at the big picture

    When developing learning experiences, don’t try to hone in on what will fit individual situation. Rather, take a broad look at the entire culture and current learning framework and see how a new and/or improved experience can benefit the entire company as a whole. One of the biggest requests right now from Millennial workers is that their employers provide some type of ongoing continuing education, and there are a number of ways to fulfil that wish. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to create an individual course to match each employee’s individual interests, but by working with HR you can figure out the types of courses that may benefit your employees in the long run - either during their tenure at your company or just in terms of overall 'employability' - and work to create courses that will keep them happy and increase retention.

As you can see, working in L&D has a lot to do with staying on top of current innovation and trends, but there’s so much more to it than that. Check out our guide - Learning Insights 2017: Progress with purpose - for more information on how to be the best L&D pro you can be.

Steve Lowenthal

Steve Lowenthal

CEO at Kineo US

Steve Lowenthal has over 15 years of experience in Learning Technologies in consultancy, sales and management roles. He's a regular speaker at US conferences and events on trends in LMS, elearning and technology.

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