Harnessing Technology to Develop a Learning Culture

Harnessing Technology to Develop a Learning Culture


Fiona Leteney


In Fosway’s Digital Learning Realities 2022 research 54% of respondents said their approach to learning had changed significantly to support a hybrid workforce. No surprise there, digital transformation is complete! Or is it?

Nearly 60% believe their learning strategy to be very effective at delivering compliance and regulatory training however only 25% felt the same way about delivering a learning culture.

So regardless of the shift to remote working and the associated move to digital, it seems L&D teams prefer to push learning rather than create the environment needed for learners to learn for themselves. However, for the remote or hybrid workforce to be successful, this environment for learning – the learning culture –needs to be supported fully by the organisation and enabled through technology.

What is a learning culture?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development defines a learning culture as “….one that embeds learning into how things are done in an organisation” or creating an “environment” for learning.

So, it is really about a mindset but unfortunately some employees still consider learning only takes place in a classroom, virtual or otherwise, and when an instructor is involved. Plus, in the past many individuals only took digital courses when it was mandatory. Learning is seen as a formal activity rather than learners recognising that as they seek information for themselves, they are learning.

The shift to digital presents both a challenge and an opportunity in helping the learner learn for themselves. Ensuring there are both the top-down and bottom-up processes - sometimes known as the push and pull approaches – presents L&D teams with the challenge of how to facilitate learners in learning on their own terms from the bottom up. And the opportunity to use technology to create the right environment for them to do just that.

Developing a learning culture in an organisation is too big a topic to cover in one blog article, so here are three practical areas where technology can support it.

How technology can help support a learning culture?

While its often more about a mindset, technology can support the transformation to a learning culture, and here are just three examples:

1. Intelligent search

In the moment, if employees need to know something they ask a colleague or Google. However, if they know the company’s Learning System (LS) has some content on the topic already, with the added value of that content having some organisational context, then that will be a more useful place to search! But then the ability to find it is crucial. A search based on a course/resource title and description is not enough, which is often the level of sophistication of search within a LS. The best way to find the answer to a specific question is to be taken to the right paragraph in a document or moment in a video, a few LSs have this kind of intelligent search for the learner. And while we are talking about intelligent search even fewer LSs provide it for the administrator too, enabling them to find an area in the system to carry out admin tasks that are not tackled very often.

2. Simple authoring

Learning systems need content and for L&D teams facing budgetary constraints this is a challenge as they will have to reduce their use of 3rd party content creators. So, developing your own inhouse content becomes more necessary but will involve a serious learning curve unless you have, or can access, instructional design expertise. It’s helpful to have a simple authoring tool with templates that can enable the extension of L&D’s capacity by using experts in the business to create content themselves and share it with their peers. It is an increasing trend that is being reflected in LS vendor functionality - the ability to create or launch user generated content in the system, for example. However, be aware that each vendor has quite different offerings in what they deliver.

3. Deep integration

Ensuring access to learning is as easy as possible is crucial to support a learning culture. Whether it is from simply having SSO (single sign on) or integrating the LS with business systems like MS Teams, Viva or Slack, to being fully integrated with a company’s own business application. The latter is known as the Headless LMS and there are a small number of systems that are tackling this type of integration. By its nature it is not an out-of-the-box solution and will need bespoke activity from both the organisations internal IT team and the LS vendor.

These are just three features that can help support a learning culture. Harnessing technology has an important part to play in developing a learning culture, but technology alone can never create the right environment for learning – mindset and organisational culture are also critical factors.

Find out more about the Fosway 9-Grid™ for Learning Systems and read the full report here and you can contact Fiona via @fionaleteney or @fosway on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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