Successful learning starts with the right leadership

by Brett Henebery23 Jan 2017
Kate Barker, vice president at Global Human Resources executive advisor at
SAP SuccessFactors, told L&D Professional that a key challenge for the year ahead is getting managers to buy into L&D programs and take responsibility for the results.
Barker recently spoke at the Learning & Development Masterclass held in Sydney on 30 November. Her presentation, which centred on this subject, included suggestions as to how organisations – and their learners – can benefit greatly from doing this.
“Successful L&D starts with the right leadership,” said Barker.
“We have seen leading organisations like PWC appoint partners to a ‘development board’ for program design and facilitation and mentor role in developing the next generation of partners equipped with the skills to growth the business and cultivate the leadership qualities.”
She added that specifically in the telecommunications and IT industry, she has seen managers given L&D KPIs that are focused on developing their learners and which are “aligned to key skills gaps or in new developing technologies”.
L&D needs a change of pace
In her talk at the Learning and Development Masterclass, Barker discussed the needs and expectations of the modern learner. Drawing from her experience, she said that while L&D organisations are generally aligned with the needs and expectations of these learners, this isn’t happening at a fast enough pace.
“Largely, L&D organisations are closely aligned to the needs of modern learners. After all L&D professionals are modern Learners too and like to consume learning in a way that is digitally mobile, engaging and bite-sized,” she said.
“The real misalignment is for organisations to move faster to meet these needs of the modern learner. The modern learner’s needs are known and well understood by L&D professionals, but unfortunately many organisations are still slow to invest.”
Looking at the year ahead, Barker said a major challenge for contemporary learning and development professionals is that of driving impact and measuring what matters most.
“Hard working L&D professionals face the challenge of measuring results and providing meaningful actionable insights and drive better decision making for executive teams demonstrating the value of the usually ‘hard fought’ investment,” she explained.
“L&D professionals are evolving to view learning as a means of propelling business results by matching learning metrics to business needs in order to align with business goals.”

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What to watch out for in 2017 
Below, Barker shares some of the most noticeable learning and development trends that she has seen develop over the last year or so:
Mobile Learning
“In 2016, learning companies were just beginning to tap into mobile device friendly systems to deliver content. Now, in the year ahead, the trend will expand as LMS providers continue to support all mobile devices for corporate learners,” she said. 
“The unique benefits that mobile learning provides means it will be here to stay. These benefits include portability and flexibility of learning methods, fast access to learning materials, and the ability to engage in distraction-free learning activities.”
“It is the perfectly structured delivery vehicle for most people’s learning capabilities. Short, focused and regular learning opportunities that are easily digestible, accessible and memorable,” Barker said.
“Micro-learning is one of the most effective learning strategies in order to increase engagement; with personalized, structured, bite-sized content. Micro-learning also typically consists of rich media format, including video, which is projected to be the most shared content on the internet by 2018.”
Barker added that going into 2017, micro-learning is expected to go “full-tilt” with super-short video clips of less than a minute.
“Gamification and virtual reality has continued to enhance learning experiences. This type of learning uses a combination of the science of motivation, distributed learning, and other neuroscience foundations, and it, takes advantage of game elements to engage learners,” Barker pointed out.
“In 2017, expect to see virtual reality devices as a common tool being used in tandem with gamification in corporate learning environments.
“It’s already being used in medical facilities where doctors in training are practicing their skills before working with real live patients. Gamification is very likely in the transportation, manufacturing, and scientific markets, in particular.”

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