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The future learning environment of a successful enterprise is flexible

There is a great deal of variation in the degree to which different enterprises take advantage of online learning. The same goes for how online learning is organized. An enterprise's needs contribute to determining how online instruction is organized, and what kinds of properties are demanded from the environment. Despite the differences, it's possible to distinguish a few common features in the development of the learning environments and productive expertise of the future.

5 qualities of the future learning environment for a successful enterprise.

Scalability ensures adaptability

A prerequisite for the success of an enterprise is its ability to react quickly to necessary changes, but often this puts a strain on the development of staff know-how. The same flexibility is expected from the learning environments of the future also; they must be able to adapt organically with the changing enterprise.

Oftentimes in choosing an online learning environment the focus is squarely on the technical specifications, such as the size of user volume that the solution will serve. But an enterprise's size can change quickly, for instance through organic growth or through a corporate acquisition. A flexible and scalable environment is one that functions well in those conditions too. The most important, and difficult, thing of all though in selecting a learning environment is taking into consideration the instructional needs of the future. How will education and training be organized and provided in the future? Most likely differently to how things are done right now.

Personalizing the learning experience

One often mentioned benefit of online learning is that it allows independence from time and place. It's high time that independence of devices was added to this. The user experience in online learning is not simply a technological matter it is part of the overall learning experience. While people have become accustomed to the use of online instruction for training and development on a massive scale, it's important not to overlook more individualized learning and learning emphases. This is necessary to ensure a better overall learning experience. Supporting individualized learning paths helps the learner, making him or her better equipped to flexibly meet the challenges of changing work. Naturally, investing in the user experience and learning experience yields better results in learning also.

Skill sharing, self-development and deeper communal learning

An online learning environment that fosters flexible learning and individual improvement allows for moving beyond the constrained model of learning as obedient assimilation of materials that are handed down from on high. When the learners or peers are themselves the content producers, impressive results are possible on many levels. Self-produced learning materials help creators of content to better structure what they know. And peer directed learning materials can reach learners more effectively. In a report entitled, "Market Guide for Corporate Learning Suites" (May 2016), Gartner predicts that "by 2018,  more than 80% of organizations will leverage user-generated content as part of their corporate learning strategy." The use of social learning methods in online instruction develops not only mastery of substance, but also cooperative skills. And at its best it generates new innovations.

Flexible instruction methods

It has been well said that making predictions is difficult, especially about the future. And this is no less true of training and development needs. A flexible learning environment helps in getting the most out of learning solutions. Blended learning, which combines online learning with face to face learning and training or vice versa, makes it possible to get the best of both methods in one package. True, contact learning and training ties up resources. But it is also more effective in committing people to learning, and in enabling use of the sorts of methods that perhaps cannot be relayed through the internet. For example, the contact setting is essential to performance of concrete tasks. The methods used in the learning or training should be chosen to meet the need, not the other way around. With a flexible online learning environment, learning and personal development can be supported in manifold ways.

Monitoring learning

The efficiency of learning within enterprises and its results are interesting not only to the learners themselves, but also in several other areas, most obviously human resources and those within the company responsible for training and development. In addition to the learner receiving confirmation of what has been learned, he or she is also benefited by the knowledge of how the learning has occurred, and of what themes have been the key focus. When there is a desire to systematically develop education and skills, merely handing out a learner satisfaction survey at the end of the course doesn't cut it anymore. Nor should a company rest content with simply knowing who has sat through the training. To give the best possible guarantee of individual and corporate skill being developed as well as they can be, a more holistic view of staff and company expertise is essential. There are various ways to go about this, including through individual self-assessments.

So to ensure genuine learning and development, the future learning environment of a successful enterprise needs to meet the challenge of offering different user groups multifaceted tools and knowledge of learning outcomes.

Maura Zitting
Lead Instructional Designer


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