OPINION: Innovation of digital content tools changed the way the world learns

Published Nov 20, 2017


JOHANNESBURG - Instead of simply reading books, we now learn from a diverse set of modern day sources including podcasts, courses, MOOC’s (Massive open online courses), webinars, videos and articles.


Employees are overwhelmed, impatient and short on time; they are looking for greater flexibility to attain information and want to have more control of their own development.


As Blair Sheppard, Global Leader of Strategy and Leadership Development at PWC, said “We should remember that intellectual complacency is not our friend and that learning – not just new things but new ways of thinking – is a life-long endeavour.”


Employees needs have evolved, learning tools must follow suit


Alexander Forbes’ partner Degreed, a global edtech company that is looking to revolutionise the world of learning, conducted a survey on how people learn. Almost 85% of respondents said they learn new tools for work by searching online; nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn from videos in any given week.


Over 60% would put in more learning time if they received some credit or recognition for doing so. Meeting the learning requirements of the new world of work


Individuals should be able to take their learning record from one employer to the next. This will provide the incentive for employees to invest themselves fully into a powerful learning system that enables a lifelong career platform.


Just as you can set up music playlists for different family members, organisations and their employees should create career-specific paths for learning for every type of role.


Employees want to be able to:


- Follow managers, experts and mentors to see what they are learning in order to build their own expertise;

- Share crucial take-aways from their learning with co-workers;

- Influence what other people see, so that if they don’t find a piece of learning beneficial, their colleagues will not waste time on the same content.

- Access learning content when they need it “Just in Time Learning”

The increasing demand by learners for access to content is changing the nature and form of Learning and Development within organisations. Access to content is key for keeping learners engaged, and they want access to all kinds of content.


Learning and Development coordinators need to better understand their learners’ needs. How they learn, when they learn and from what sources do they prefer to learn. This will force coordinators away from developing content and courses to curating courses from multiple sources.


Empowering people to learn empowers their financial well-being


“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” said Benjamin Franklin.


Empowering learning in the workplace also empowers financial well-being. We believe that developing human capital enables a better financial and emotional well-being for our clients. The learning curve influences the earning curve. Thomas Piketty said, “Over 300 years of economic history, the principal and most enduring mechanism for distribution of wealth and reduction in inequality is the diffusion of skills and knowledge.”


With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the impact of technological, demographic and socio-economic disruptions on business are being more acutely felt with significant change occurring across the employment landscape impacting skills requirements. It is therefore more important than ever for both employers and employees to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.


Ryan Knipe is the managing executive of Alexander Forbes Empower.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.


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