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Modeling Future Blends and Behaviors: Does the Perfect Learner Exist?

Does the perfect learner exist? What are their attributes? As learning and development professionals, what do we want our learners to do every day? If you and your team are asking yourselves these questions, we’re developing a model that can help support organizations through change. And find a clear path to developing learning programs that match and meet learner behaviors.

Our (working) model positions the science of learning at its heart, adding what we believe to be five key strategic imperatives for digital learning at its core. By addressing the pivotal part of the model—human beings—we then highlight the attributes and behaviors of learners, what the enablers and blockers of these behaviors are and, finally, the strategies to overcome these blockers. Note that this is a story in the making, not a definitive model (and never will be—it’ll always be evolving).

The model, which is being developed by LEO’s learning consultants alongside customers from global business, will answer two burning questions:

  • What are the learning blends and behaviors that will underpin how organizations transform themselves?
  • And, how can we link learning and transformation to the technologies that we have at our fingertips?

The first layer of the model we developed together had seven imperatives: our five plus two more. We’ve positioned these strategic imperatives and ecosystems for delivering effective digital learning today.

1. A Blended Learning Journey

Learning is no longer one single event but a blended mix of many different components that sit within three key phases of the learning journey. These are:

  1. The first phase of the learning journey is to align the learners and get them ready to begin the learning journey. This may be to motivate your learners, share the benefits of learning, or bring them up to the level to start learning.
  2. Once your learners are ready to begin, it’s all about the delivery of learning. This is where we use the tools we have to deliver effective learning in a modern, digitally-enabled way.
  3. Finally, it’s important to sustain the learning. Once the learner behaviors are happening, we need to support the learners to keep the behaviors front of mind.

Recommended reading: 'Blended Learning: The Definitive Guide'

2. Personalization: What Learners Need and When They Need it

We all know that for digital learning to be effective, one size does not fit all, and we are working with ever more adaptive learning journeys. For instance, by creating playbook-style personalization, where a single learner gets a set of components that are associated with their personal needs, you can tailor the learning process to each individual.

3. Challenge, Immerse, Play: Using Game Mechanics to Support Learning

There are three game-based learning mechanics to this: ‘challenge’, ‘immerse’ and ‘play’.

In ‘Challenge’, you’d create a task that tests someone’s abilities or skills by accentuating the challenge mode through long-term objectives and short-term goals. The learner can move through the challenge, allowing them to pursue goals, fail, and be rewarded.

Immersive learning and virtual reality is another strategy—to be used where appropriate. They can give the learners the ability to be in that physical space and give them first-hand experience of the context. This allows for greater engagement and therefore retention. With immersive learning, we can track the action of the learner and measure their performance on the challenges.

Learning through play is about deploying the mental states we adopt during play (creativity, imagination, state of flow, progression, completion, etc.) in driving learning modes. It can promote learning through a less structured, formal experience. This gives the learner more freedom to learn in the best possible way for them. Play is important because the decisions or actions we make in times of play impact what happens later on. It gives us a sense of agency in the whole process and enables us to practice and explore boundaries safely.

4. Connecting Learners With Each Other

Social learning means learners working together, rather than in isolation, learning with each other and from each other. In other words, learning that strategically deploys learner-learner relationships to drive effectiveness of learning acquisition, KSA (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) shift, and/or application or behavior in practice.

For more, download your copy of ‘Connected Learning: How to Harness the Power of Social, Data, and Networks’.

5. Measurement and Data Capturing

Measuring learning effectiveness is a crucial part of our strategies now. We need to be able to understand what works, when it worked, and why it worked to refine the learning journey and make learning more effective and efficient.

By using the data we get from the learning, we can:

  • capture what learners are doing,
  • learn from them to deliver better learning experiences,
  • and predict what learning individual learners need to succeed.

This helps us deliver exactly the right learning for the right performance behavior in practice.

When we talk about the challenges that come with organizational transformation, we need to rephrase business problems as human problems. Organizations are made of people, and it is how those people act that determines how an organization performs and how it transforms itself.

Want more? Watch the on-demand webinar recording of ‘Measuring the Business Impact of Learning: What We’ve Learned’

Can the Perfect Learner Exist?

Our model looked at two key features to the perfect learner: their attributes and their behaviors derived from these attributes.

What Attributes Do We Want to See in Our Learners?

We found that the perfect learner needs to have the right mindset of personal and organizational growth. It’s about having a drive and thirst for knowledge, all while being responsible for their learning. The learner should be curious, resourceful and have a social mindset of sharing and supporting others.

What Do We Want the Perfect Learners to Do Every Day?

We believe they should prioritize learning, even when it is difficult, and seek out feedback from management and peers about their performance. They should make the time and opportunities for learning when they’re most receptive and be open to trying new approaches when they come across barriers.

By understanding what attributes and behaviors we want to encourage in our learners, we need to consider first the enablers of these behaviors and then the blockers to these behaviors.

Also read A Human Framework for Reskilling: How 5 Seismic Forces Are Driving the Reinvention of Learning & Talent’.

Learning Enablers: Where Are We Now?

We found that management support and leadership management are crucial enablers to learning. Having a clear learning vision driven by leadership and learning culture with a growth mindset that encourages both results and failure will only enable learning further.

We also need to have the budget, technology, and investment in learning to encourage those learning behaviors.

What Are the Blockers of Learning?

We found that senior leadership is probably one of the biggest blockers to learning, coupled with the fear of failure and the failure to see a return of investment. Without the right learning culture or the technology and budget, learners may not have the support they need to enable the right learning.

Understanding the enablers and blockers of the attributes and behaviors of the perfect learner is incredibly important because people are the frontline of any organization and we need to be able to recognize all the strengths that our people have and support them.

This blog post is an excerpt from our webinar ‘Future Blends: Future Behaviors – A Model for Success’. See the model for yourself! Watch the webinar recording to explore the open-source model framework and how it came about in more depth.

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