The birth of widespread remote work during the 2020 pandemic was perhaps one of the biggest disruptors to Learning and Development. Human beings are social creatures. Learning from each other is as natural as having three meals a day. As face-to-face interaction has significantly decreased, L&D had to step up its game in trying to bridge this gap left by previously office-based employees needing to live and work online. In fact, L&D has to go beyond this to provide learners with a superior learning experience.
There were two small boys, John and Jim, who were friends. Jim had a dog. One day they were taking the dog for a walk and Jim said proudly, “I’ve taught my dog to whistle.”
“What do you mean?” said John. “He’s not whistling.”
“I know,” said Jim. “But I said I’d taught him, I didn’t say he’d learned.”
– Paul Green-Armytage
1. Journeys Vs. Events
Events are individual training experiences that can be in the form of a lecture, video, presentation, eLearning module, quiz, or other forms. These typically focus on the delivery of content. A journey, on the other hand, takes a more learner-centric view of achieving an outcome. A journey consists of a variety of activities to meet the different needs of the learner. It considers that we aren’t all empty vessels ready to be filled with content. Instead, it acknowledges that we’re complex beings that may require a mix of knowledge, skills, motivation, engagement, and support to achieve an outcome.
To understand this better, let’s consider attending a university. The desired outcome is to prepare a student to be a working, productive member of society. The journey includes courses, but it also includes joining social organizations, living on one’s own and the trials and tribulations that go with it, dating, meeting new people, and on and on. It’s only through this blended set of experiences, or this journey, that the outcome is achieved. A student can attend a Psych 201 course, but that doesn’t make them ready to be a psychologist.
The same is true in corporate learning. Formal learning events still play a critical role, but a desired learning outcome will often only be achieved through a learning journey that includes other activities like mentoring, ongoing communication and motivation, work-based learning, easy access to resources, and more.
In effect, a journey includes multiple learning experiences, is spread out over time, and addresses the multiple needs of a learner, while an event typically only addresses one need through a single experience.
Leading organizations are embracing blended learning structures that utilize a wide range of delivery modes. Learners are able to learn, take time off from learning, re-learn, and use their learning in various ways. Often there are features right in our LMS that can be leveraged to create more effective learning journeys, such as forums and workspaces.
Like Jim, we can no longer be proud of having taught someone new information. Our goal in L&D is to ensure that learning actually happens and that the new knowledge is retained.
2. Performance Support
You may recall Microsoft’s “Clippy,” the paper clip office assistant! Clippy is an example of support that integrates the user’s learning with operating experience. Clippy has since been discontinued, but the concept has been updated and is now trending as just-in-time training—a way to deliver learning just when it’s needed. If conducted as a detached “training event,” this kind of knowledge is most likely forgotten completely without hands-on application.
In the past, learning delivery platforms had standalone electronic performance support systems (EPSS) where a user had to log in, but now we put support content where employees work every day. With the use of wikis and various integrated features, we’re able to help users learn on the job. Microsoft Teams’ integration with learning platforms boosts employee engagement and learning retention. Compatibility with any device such as desktop, mobile, or web is a must in today’s world.
3. Skills Development Has Finally Found Its Place
A recent McKinsey study  showed that we’re experiencing a skills gap globally and across industries. In the past, efforts to bridge this gap lacked technological support to track compliance training. Today, technology has the answers we need. With the right tools, such as a cutting-edge LMS, the possibilities are endless. McKinsey recommends revamping program delivery by using improved engagement tools that are able to link behaviors to goals. In short, competency building and tracking compliance training are critical to improving foundational behavior.
From the employees’ perspective, 80% of employees  said that they would feel more engaged and motivated if they had the opportunity to participate in relevant competencies training programs. In this age of physical distancing, motivation influences performance tremendously. This is a top priority for organizations since engaged employees are more motivated, more productive, and less likely to leave.
4. Collaboration Is Mainstream
Now more than ever, people have taken to social media and digital networking for their personal and professional goals. Take a minute and reflect: What kind of environment does your organization provide for its employees?
If it’s not social, engaged, and online, the chances of driving productivity are slim! Companies must nurture communities of practice—essentially, this means bringing together groups of co-workers on a common platform where they can interact, learn, and improve themselves on the job. This concept has been gaining momentum since the 1990s when the Department of Defense developed the first CoP  which leveraged social learning, professional networking, best practices, and knowledge management. Choosing a learning delivery tool that has sound capabilities in the area of collaboration will help you cultivate a powerful learning culture.
5. Learning Analytics Vs. Measurement
Since it’s always been the goal of L&D to match organizational objectives with employee goals, it’s natural to try and complete the circle to relate ROI with your learning initiatives. Something that can feel like following a rainbow to find your pot of gold! But, not to worry, there are other options today in the form of xAPI-based LMSs and other tools that can give you the depth of insight and breadth of data you need. With learning analytics, you’ll be able to present reasonable connections between ROI and learning over a length of time. On the ground, this means that employees will be able to view areas that need improvement, pursue the learning connected with those areas or any other area, and be assessed automatically or based on a mentor’s grading.
Learning Delivery That Delivers Results
Pulling all of the tools that can give your organization the best talent experience possible may seem like a daunting task. It will certainly require a depth of experience and knowledge in assessing the needs of your organization since no organization is exactly the same as another. Each is as unique as your fingerprint. So, if you need a bit of outside expertise, the Kineo crew is glad to help. Totara: Kineo Edition is a full learning and talent development suite that will help your organization rapidly mature its L&D capability. Has your organization outgrown its LMS?
 The skillful corporation
 2016 Udemy Workplace Boredom Study
 Company Command: Unleashing the Power of the Army Profession
Originally published at kineo.com.