Learning Has Never Been More Important!

Sudeep Majumdar, Senior Director-HR, Biocon Sudeep is passionate about creating processes and platforms for individuals or organisations who want to go beyond their potential through hard work

"The illiterate of 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn". This quote by Alvin Tofler can be better understood in this age when technology has increased the pace of change exponentially. Modern consumers are better connected and more aware about the world than ever before. Social media and internet reach has enabled everybody to access world class content at the tap of a finger. And therefore the gap between digital haves and have nots has reduced considerably. With the overload of information around us, we are constantly unlearning and relearning. So, the challenge before organizations is not how to get learning done, but how to provide relevant and validated content 'in time' and 'ondemand'.

Where should the focus be?
Let's face it ­ despite being used to seeing over 500,000 search results for every query, Google doesn't know everything! Google reflects back what somebody who knows puts it on public domain. However a lot of critical knowledge is not available openly but resides with select subject matter experts. Also it is not easy to differentiate between factual and hearsay on a search result. Learning function will need to facilitate in curating and providing this relevant content to learners.

Another focus should be to improve classroom learning experience. Although a lot has been already said about making learning `anywhere' and 'anytime', classroom learning will retain its place however, the method needs to be altered. Traditionally, inputs have been provided in group in a classroom followed by action plans ­ homework ­ outside classroom. But reverse this methodology and you have the 'Flipped Classroom Model' where you learn on your own and apply or share learning with your peers facilitated by a trainer.

Another important area for L&D teams should be on Soft Skills! This will be the only area which will not be easy for AI to replicate and therefore, human intervention will remain relevant in future. Behaviour science has evolved today to include technology in the pedagogy and create more effective experiences for the learner.
Digital Learning is the future
The market for Corporate L&D has seen a sea change in the last decade from page turning e-learning modules to a wide variety of videos micro learning experiences and adaptive platforms. Today the organisations are moving away from LMS to Learning Record Stores creating a whole new infrastructure to help employees learn. Platforms like G-suite, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Edcastetc have an enormous impact on learners and will see wide spread use in future.

What is exciting is that with the advances of digital technology and the influx of various social tools, the 'social' element can be easily incorporated in learning

Our exposure to Facebook, Amazon and Insta has created demand of similar experiences from learning systems as well ­ learning based on interest. Learner today decides what to learn and how much to learn, and as a function L&D needs to give the control to the user. And it is true considering the ever decreasing attention spans of humans has led to a situation where any consumer who spends more than 20 mins a week on learning is categorized as `Insane Learner'.

Digital Learning is the way to reach out to a large population spread across geographies and still create individualised learning experience. It is a scalable methodology which is good for small as well as mega organizations.

Knowledge from You, Me and Every body
Social Learning has been there for ages but it is coming out of the factory now! It is here to stay and most progressive organisations are cognisant about it! Today, if you want to make a particular dish, more than asking your mother, you would refer to a popular blog or video. If you have bought a new dslr and want to take amazing pictures, you would refer to a seasoned photographers tips to learn and probably would also share tricks with other beginners. This also boosts collaboration ­ one of the important competencies for growing organizations.

Infact, most of the surveys, listing skills required for future, emphasise on Collaboration as a prime need. People are willing to share and co-learn. The number of shared posts on social media platform validate this. The bite sized videos the short messages and articles, opinions and ensuing arguments around it ensure that modern consumers are interacting regularly. Now the question posed to the organizations is how to regulate it so that the impact is positive and mutually beneficial.

What is exciting is that with the advances of digital technology and the influx of various social tools the'social' element can be easily incorporated in learning. As an L&D team, we ought to consider this media as an imperative tool to encourage peer to peer engagement and sharing of ideas. Employees today are part of various groups according to their interests and seek knowledge using these platforms; however, when an organization provides the platform, it create a repertoire of knowledge for posterity.

Whose responsibility is Learning?
It is not just individual employees who need continuous learning in a digital business environment. Organisations also need to learn and adapt quickly in an increasingly digital world. This needs a change of mindset from the L&D professionals to focus on greater experimentation and innovation. This is how L&D should take lead in Digital transformation in an organization. The ecosystem for such learning should be provided by the organization, and self-driven and ambitious employees will make the best use of them, define their growth paths and contribute more efficiently.