Continuous learning is increasingly recognised for the essential role it plays in the workplace.
But what exactly do we mean by ‘continuous learning’? And what role can technology play in helping L&D professionals ensure their organisation’s continuous learning culture achieves the ultimate goal of driving performance improvement for both employee and business?
What is continuous learning?
In their continuous learning model, Bersin refers to three phases that workers will typically pass through on a loop during their careers:
- Immediate – Performance support and tools for point-of-need learning. Characterised by: “What do I need in this moment?”
- Intermediate – Current job development and competency expansion – “What do I need to grow in my current role?”
- Transitional – Development of skills and relationships that will meet long-term business goals – “What do I need to grow in my career?” Therefore, the cycle begins again, back at the immediate phase.
According to Bersin, education is just one of four ‘E’ words that contribute towards continuous learning as part of a holistic approach. The other three are experience (working on the job), environment (the tools around them such as search engines and libraries) and exposure (work relationships, connections and interactions).
With instant access to information through the internet and colleagues, informal continuous learning is happening all the time.
Why continuous learning is good for everyone
Continuous learning is finally consigning to the bin the notion that learning has a start and a finish line. And those gaps in learning? Forget it (pun intended): They’re on their way out too.
This is how modern workers want to learn. If they see they are contributing and advancing, they’re more likely to stay and grow with your organisation. Meanwhile, they’re helping to drive their own improvement.
For organisations, the benefits are obvious: You have a knowledgeable, engaged, ever-improving workforce, whose continuous learning is part of the bigger picture towards the goals of the business.
How tech helps with continuous learning
With recent advances in technology, it is now possible to design a model of continuous learning that fits the specific and changing needs of your workers and your organisation. Here are some of the tech innovations to consider:
Adaptive learning technology – Using artificial intelligence this constantly evaluates the learner’s progress towards pre-defined targets and identifies and fills gaps in knowledge by adjusting learning content in real time.
Microlearning – Bite-sized information. This can be question-based reinforcement, delivered daily to help employees retain knowledge and apply it effectively.
Knowledge-on-demand – Job aids and supporting information is accessible via devices at the time of need, so that employees are always supported to perform successfully on the job.
Reports and analytics – Uses data to create the most personalised and effective learning journey for each learner.
Gamification – Techniques provide inspiration and incentives, helping to fully engage employees in the success of their own learning. And it’s fun, which helps!
"With recent advances in technology, it is now possible to design a model of continuous learning that fits the specific and changing needs of your workers and your organisation."
A real life example of continuous learning
Global supermarket chain Tesco use a fun and engaging ongoing compliance programme, called Learning Leap. Staff take the learning every year. Again, the learning has had a massive impact.
Tech forms part of the whole
Continuous learning is a mindset, a culture, and should be embraced.
For L&D teams, it’s about building a learning mindset within teams and measuring improvements in performance. The mindset will include valued sharing of learning and experiences, supporting self-organised learning and utilising all the learning opportunities around us. Technology isn’t the sole solution to continuous learning; rather, you should see it as playing a significant supporting role.