December 22, 2020
It’s imperative for any enterprise to consider how its members can continue to learn. Without this skill, an organization is destined to fall behind as it can’t keep up with the changing world around it.
So how can a company keep its employees up-to-date with all the learning and information they need to know? The answer is to transform your company’s learning from a static entity into a dynamic learning organization. In this article, we will take a look at what learning organizations are and how corporations can incorporate ideas from them into their learning and development strategies.
Let’s first take a minute to define learning organization. There are all sorts of definitions as well as learning organization theory out there, but one simple way to put it is that a learning organization is a group that is dedicated to the pursuit of change for the better.
Many successful companies out there act as an example of learning organizations. Consider companies like Airbnb with their Fireside Chats or Etsy with their “Etsy School,” and you will see that there is a lot of value to empowering your workforce through continuous training and development of knowledge and skills.
These types of organizations have key traits that allow us to recognize them as enterprises that care about learning. Some of these traits include a collaborative learning culture, an embrace of innovation, forward-thinking leadership, and a life-long learning mindset.
Let’s now take a look at the theory behind each of the aforementioned traits and see how we might be able to realize each in practice through the use of a learning management system (LMS).
In a learning organization, learning is a joint activity, not one that is done individually. There are a lot of advantages when you get to collaborate for learning. One is that you have others to bounce ideas off of. Additionally, it’s also advantageous to have others that challenge your thinking, active learning, or understanding of a given topic.
To have a successful learning organization, your employees will need to feel like they are part of a community. This gives them a way to contextualize their learning and allows them to see their progress as a form of ascension into a community of practice. This social learning is not only sound in theory but also a learning method that employees find enjoyable and comforting.
In practice, we can realize collaborative learning experience through an LMS or learning platform like EdApp by making use of its social learning features. EdApp offers built-in features like Discussions and Assignments, where learners can engage with each other despite the classroom being held online. It also supports real-time video to allow for live instructional corporate training and debate.
For a company to be a learning organization, it has to be open to change and innovation, like blended learning or adaptive learning. Therefore, it has to allow employees the freedom to try new things and seek new solutions to their problems. Without embracing innovation, a company will falter as it is stuck in its own ways.
Turning a belief in innovation into a useful practice means having your employees feel free to experiment without the repercussions that come along with failure. An LMS can accomplish this by setting up simulations where an employee can attempt new things without stress. Using an LMS, an online course creator can set up simulations and role-plays where learners won’t fear failure. This can be key to unlocking their potential to innovate.
It’s not enough for individual employees to want to better themselves through education. This passion for learning has to be driven from the top. When managers come to value having a workforce that wants to improve itself, then they should take a leadership role in offering them that education.
This can include providing structured learning courses that employees can attend either in-house or at academies. It can also be done by holding team meetings or training sessions. Even things like starting a blog or online discussion group can help.
Learning technologies like an LMS can also be of use in this situation. For example, the previously mentioned EdApp has a simple course creation process that allows anyone to make an effective and nice-looking course that works on any device. That’s all thanks to its authoring tool. That means any subject matter expert or trainer can become a course creator in no time at all to share their knowledge and competency with other employees.
Looking for inspiration onboarding or development training? Discover EdApp’s completely free and ready-made courses on Management & Leadership, ready for you to edit and deploy to your team members (or even take yourself!)
In addition to being innovative and forward-thinking, a company needs to instill a mindset for life-long learning amongst its employees. That means building a learning organization that proactively gets their employees wanting to improve themselves, rather than just wait for them to feel the need that they should learn more.
It may not be the case that all employees want to be continually learning. For various reasons, they might not have the time or will to pursue new ventures. It could occur if they are distracted by real-life issues such as a sick relative or some other issue. In this case, we could make time for corporate learning during their regular work hours.
Again referring to the EdApp learning technology, mobile learning techniques such as microlearning can aid in this sort of situation. This just-in-time learning is in small chunks and can occur anytime, such as during a commute or during scheduled learning periods at work.
Another way EdApp can motivate workers towards wanting life-long learning is through gamification. Using leaderboards is one way that learning environment can be gamified so that employees are more engaged. Another way is through offering real-world rewards, which EdApp allows through its points system in which a course creator can award gift certificates to employees that succeed at their course.
As we’ve seen in this article, there are many traits we must embrace when building a (virtual) learning organization. We’ve seen the importance of embracing innovation, fostering collaborative learning, creating forward-thinking leadership, and pushing for a life-long learning mindset. When these conditions are met, the learning organization structure at a company becomes clear.
Thankfully, we have many tools that can aid us along the way. A well-designed LMS like EdApp gives us what we need to turn our company into a cutting-edge learning organization. What would your company look like if it implemented all the ideals of a learning organization?
Daniel Brown is a senior technical editor and writer that has worked in the education and technology sectors for two decades. Their background experience includes curriculum development and course book creation.