Do you Know Your Modern Workplace Learners? | D2L
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Do you Know Your Modern Workplace Learners?

  • 4 Min Read

A survey has revealed that people in different job roles have specific modern learning preferences.

These days, modern learning technologies and approaches are as plentiful as flavors of ice cream. But just like how some people are partial to strawberry and others mint chocolate chip, not all modern learners have the same workplace learning preferences.

What modern learners want

We know that an optimal learning environment for today’s workplace learners needs to be modern, mobile, and agile and that learning content needs to be engaging, easy to consume and available on-demand—when and where the learner wants it. But research tells us that these modern learners also have unique and specific learning needs and preferences based on their age, as well as the different roles they occupy at work.

In the fall of 2017, Wainhouse Research surveyed 2,004 workers in different roles and across a variety of industries to understand how they prefer to learn. The survey unearthed a number of informative, important and, at times, surprising differences amongst modern learners when it comes to learning preferences across job roles.

In a recent webinar with D2L, Wainhouse Corporate Learning Analyst Charles M. Denault discussed the survey results, explaining how people occupying executive, sales, and technology-focused roles such as IT and engineering prefer to learn.

Executive education for the modern learner

The Wainhouse survey found that executives prefer on-demand and social approaches to workplace learning such as short-clip videos, collaborative workspaces, and class recordings. Executives aren’t keen on coaching and mentoring and they scored among the lowest of all groups in terms of their preference for that approach. Ironically, executives actually receive the most coaching and mentoring in organizations but, as DeNault pointed out, they don’t want to make the time commitment and tend to cancel because of time constraints. For those reasons, on-demand and collaborative options suit executives the most.

“A social learning element or collaborative workspace can really add continuity to leadership development programs or manager-training programs,” said Denault, “because they provide a space for greater participation when you’re not meeting in person.”

CTA: Learn how Social Assessment™can enable coaching and mentoring without time constraints

Learn how Social Assessment™ can enable coaching without time constraints

Highlights of other role-based modern learning preferences

There were many other interesting insights about role-based learning preferences that came out of the survey. Data from Wainhouse’s research also revealed that:

  • People working in sales like elearning and short-clip videos, but they don’t like them as much as executives do.
  • While customer service representatives aren’t partial to collaborative workspaces, they do like short-clip videos.
  • Technical employees such as engineers like elearning, short clip video, collaborative workspaces and on-demand access to recorded classes.

Create your modern learning and development test kitchen

During the webinar, Denault encouraged businesses to set up what he called a ‘learning and development test kitchen,’ where organizations can have their employees test different modern learning tools and methods—like on-demand coaching and mentoring, short-clip video and collaborative workspaces—to make workplace learning more effective.

For example, organizations could experiment with leveraging video and elearning tools to enable asynchronous coaching and mentoring on demand; employees record themselves practicing a skill—say, providing an elevator pitch or dealing with a customer complaint—and then submit that recording to a coach or mentor for them to review and respond with specific “in the moment” feedback around how they can improve.

“Pedagogically, this is awesome because the learner gets to keep trying until they’re satisfied,” said Denault. “They get to self-evaluate as part of this process.”

It’s also an approach that would help to eliminate the logistical difficulties that can be involved with conventional, time-constraining, in-person coaching and mentoring.

Here are some specific examples of how video can be used for Social Assessment in the workplace.

Despite the difference in learning preferences, there is strong support across all job roles for a blended approach to learning, so organizations should experiment with as many modern learning tools and methods as they can, concluded Denault. He added that organizations should make themselves aware of their own learners’ particular preferences.

And who knows—with a little experimentation leveraging modern learning tools like a video-capable modern learning platform with collaborative learning spaces, they might be surprised to discover that their learning preferences can change, or in other words, people who are partial to strawberry ice-cream can learn to love mint chocolate chip too.

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