7 Factors that Make a Successful Learning Culture

— July 17, 2019

Organizations increasingly finding that they need to upskill, reskill and new skill their employees to keep pace with evolving demands and remain competitive. That’s why so many organizations are embracing the concept of “learning culture”. Learning cultures allow organizations to proactively address the knowledge needs of their employees on an ongoing basis – what the learning and development industry calls “continual learning”.

What is a learning culture?

A learning culture as one that:

  • Values the knowledge and skills acquired and applied in the workplace, keeping in mind the principles of andragogy– or adult learning theory – throughout employee learning engagements
  • Motivates employees to seek out self-directed learning opportunities
  • Implements a variety of processes, tools and resources that encourage self-improvement through learning
  • Supports an organization’s desire to improve, adapt and remain relevant in today’s fast-paced, skills-based world

Seven Factors of a Learning Culture

There are seven main factors that make for a successful learning culture:

  1. Autonomy – Strong learning cultures provide learners the opportunity to assert control over various aspects of their learning. Learners who have this autonomy are more intrinsically motivated, feel more competent, and perform better. Research also shows that providing learners with choices enhances their attention and engagement, and can help deepen long-term memory consolidation. Additionally (as if that wasn’t proof enough), learners who have more control over their own learning:
    1. Complete more learning tasks in less time
    2. Demonstrate higher level engagement with learning topics over time
    3. Demonstrate more innovative thinking and greater ownership over their learning
  2. Andragogy – Successful learning cultures incorporate principles of adult learning theory to recognize what learners already know, and entice them with new content that’s highly relevant & applicable. Embracing an andragogical training approach removes the “handcuffs” of traditional curriculum instruction. It allows instructors to move away from scripted training and timed PowerPoint presentations toward a model that’s able to adapt to the various learning needs, styles and demands of adult learners.
  3. Mastery – Learning cultures quantifiably measure what employees know, and provide opportunities for them to practice skills, self-remediate and build confidence. By focusing on mastery, and giving employees ample opportunity to practice and experience success in learning, learning cultures are also able to boost employee confidence, and in turn, performance.
  4. Continual Improvement – Organizations with the strongest learning cultures have a mindset of continual improvement. They work to incrementally build new skills and reskill employees, continually remediate knowledge gaps and reinforce learning, and leverage data to fine-tune course content and processes.
  5. Science – The healthiest learning cultures leverage learning science to improve knowledge acquisition and retention. Cognitive psychology and neuroscience have a lot to tell us about the way our brains work. For example, we know that techniques, like one-on-one instruction, microlearning, immediate feedback, memory boosters & Optimal Challenge are all scientifically proven to boost learning, retention and learner satisfaction.
  6. Technology – Cutting-edge technologies help learning cultures create programs that can adapt to the individual needs of employees & dramatically improve the efficacy of training. Some of the most advanced and interesting systems use a combination of AI-powered chat bots, interactive videos, searchable wikis/Netflix-like learning and Adaptive Learning 3.0.
  7. Access – Successful learning cultures allow employees to access learning & training on demand and on-the-go, so they can easily fit new learning into their busy schedules. This means that learning cultures choose L&D technologies that incorporate responsive design and allow learners to self-direct their own learning pathways.

Learning cultures, wherein employees have the ability and motivation to pursue the learning and knowledge they need and organizations have the capacity to build the skills their industries require, are the future.

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Author: Patrick Weir

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