Rewarding Self-Directed Learners through Learning Technologies [How-To]

Today’s learners are more self-directed and want to play a more active part in their professional development. To help facilitate this process, you need to have the right learning tools in place. In this blog post, we’ll not only look at ways to encourage and reward motivated learners, but also the learning technologies to help ensure maximum engagement along the way.

As an L&D professional, when was the last time you asked yourself: How do people really want to learn?

This might sound like a simple question—but, in many organizations, learning programs are often dictated from the top down and focus on standard training efforts, such as compliance or onboarding. This “push” approach, however, can be off-putting to today’s learners, particularly those who are more recent entrants to the workforce.

LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report found that Gen Z and Millennial learners are more likely to want fully self-directed and independent learning than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

As a result, more organizations are starting to focus their development initiatives on empowering learners to take ownership of their own learning and development. This “pull” rather than “push” approach to learning focuses on meeting people at their point of need in the flow of work, rather than one-off training events.

The Power of Rewarding Self-Directed Learners

Traditional forms of recognition for achievements, such as linking learner progress and development to promotions and pay rises, will always have their place.

However, more self-directed and motivated learners are less likely to need extrinsic motivators. Instead, they’ll feel rewarded when it’s clear that their learning programs will not only help them develop professionally, but also help establish their credibility within the organization and their profession. For example, if a member of a project team wants to become the future leader of his or her department, the organization might set a digital training goal for that person.

As well as assessing his or her development based on indicators, such as sales and profits, that employee’s progress could also be measured on how much they have contributed to the organizational learning platform. Teaching other members of his or her team through user-generated content and related discussions could become a clear marker of development and value to the company.

What Does This Mean for Your Learning Technologies?

Giving learners the experiences they expect now requires a very different kind of approach to the one most L&D teams took a decade ago. Back then, Learning Management Systems (LMSs) were used to record formal learning from registration to completion and assessment.

That approach worked because learners were amenable to simply being told what to do. Now, however, they want to take on a more active role in their learning and construct their own learning journeys, rather than follow a prescribed path.

Unfortunately, outdated, expensive technology makes the transition to this type of learning delivery a difficult task for many organizations. When companies have a lot invested in legacy systems, it’s no surprise they’re reluctant to change them.

But the best solution to meeting the needs of today’s learners is investing in learning tools that can deliver the modern-day learning experience employees want.

Create Training Programs That Empower Your Learners

New learning tools, such as Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs), enable organizations to create learning programs where they can reuse and reorganize existing content, as well as add and share all types of learning content in a single searchable library. This can include anything from video and interactive eLearning to PDFs and PowerPoint presentations.

This gives learners a more exploratory mode of learning, enabling them to find exactly what they need, in the right format, when they need it. This is the kind of modern learning experience today’s learners expect.

As well as the benefits to L&D teams responsible for delivering these programs, new learning tools can also empower learners to create and submit their own content, such as user-generated videos. This is particularly valuable for learners who are motivated to develop not only their own but others’ professional development.


A version of this post originally appeared on the gomolearning.com blog.

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