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Meet your new Chief Learning Officer

Remember the days of the Chief Learning Officer - the person who told you what to study, when and where? This was usually in a classroom and then later - a virtual classroom. Surely in this era of choice you need to be your own CLO, your own learning and development architect, taking advantage of the best human and Artificial Intelligence available.

eLearning is not the panacea

And what about eLearning? Many thought that the learning agenda had undergone a revolution when we moved to this model of study. But the revolution never materialised. Sure, learning offerings have expanded to more and broader audiences. But are they really any more effective?

Most eLearning offerings rely on self-study (and self-discipline) or they replicate physical classroom in a virtual environment. The latter is more interactive and convenient, but still pretty limited. Today's eLearning environment has done little more than change the learning medium, but not how or what we learn.

The new age of 'good' old learning

It's only recently, with the arrival of gamification, that we have been witnessing the dawning of a new age of learning. Gamification improves and reinforces learning and development and can increase long-term retention by up to 10 times, while boosting achievement and encouraging perseverance.

However, while many firms are moving away from one-size-fits-all and beginning to explore a plethora of learning opportunities – eLearning, experiential (learning by doing), mentoring, etc - generally, we still use the same tried-and-tested formula for learning. We work out what we think 'good' looks like for a particular job or skill or behaviour. Then we get folks to undertake some form of training in whatever guise, to get to 'good'. To me, this seems to be in direct contrast to the way the rest of the talent agenda is going.

Peer-to-peer, it's here

Rather than defining what folks need, why can't people connect with one another to learn-peer-to-peer, as is happening in every other industry?

What if, instead of a formalised learning curriculum, people received feedback openly as part of performance management and were then obliged to follow it up? So, recipients of constructive feedback would be offered a mentoring session or a workshop, for example. Alternatively, if you receive praise for a particular skillset, you follow up with an offer to share this through a talk, a training session or a blog.

Think big

Let's help people go out and find the best training available based on their career aspirations and performance. We will still need learning experts to help determine strategic needs of the organisation as well as promote and measure participation. But we could be offering a full-blown network of opportunities for individuals to choose from.

MOOC (massive open online courses) is the beginning of this movement, where individuals go beyond companies and informal training, and where mentoring springs up internally. But I have not yet come across a firm that has made this its core approach. Also, the MOOC quality is still the topic of some debate.

Get a move on

Finally, who isn't talking about learning on-the-go these days? Mobile learning is a trend taking the world by storm –anytime, anywhere and made incredibly simple. An Apple Watch might not be the best learning device given the screen size, but t a wearable device alerting me to a particular behaviour and progress I'm making - that would be great. Like a learning fit-bit.

We're in the early stages of transforming the ways we learn, but one thing's for sure. Learning in the 21st Century will be driven by the individual, using AI, games and other experiences that adapt as you progress. The result? You become your own CLO – and it's time to take charge! 

2026

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