Individualized Learning Experiences

Follow our blog series in four parts, on the future of corporate learning. In the upcoming weeks there will be more topics deepening the insights.

This third one tackles the topic of "Individualized learning experiences".

Written By

Jukka Sundberg


On top of being a social setting, learning is also now becoming more self-directed. We can encourage our learners to take their Individualized and need-based learning journeys - this is what people also expect. Despite that, we should still make sure the strategic connection to all learning and monitor their progress towards their goals regularly. Actually, the abundance of open online learning content and the curation and validation of content become more crucial than ever. As mentioned in earlier parts of these writings, we see the most proactive people create their learning paths in many organizations. The question is how to support the big group in the middle of the curve to leap in the right direction. What kind of learning opportunities could we offer for these people, for instance, beyond your own organization's walls?

We can take as a given fact that younger generations and modern-day learners expect to have greater flexibility and to be able to access their training partially or fully digitally at their own pace. Too often, we can see that people are searching for their sources for learning because they feel that their employer is lagging with their learning paths. 

One interesting observation is that people often score their employers based on their opportunities for personal growth and development. They are also interested in getting digital badges into their CVs to make the credentials universally more beneficial for their future. This seems to happen more amongst younger employees and professionals, who are, according to studies, willing to sacrifice even part of their salary if they can be part of something significant that also builds their future. The higher the education level, the more this happens. So it seems pretty evident that learning and development will continue to adapt to the ways employees prefer to learn and grow. In this sense, L&D becomes even more relevant in employer branding efforts as well.

Different modalities in the flow of work 
Pure digital, only F2F, blended, flipped, hybrid, simulations, gamification - or how should we build our approaches nowadays? How to ensure that all our people receive an equally powerful and effective learning experience? What does the future look like after ten years? These are questions from many L&D professionals at the moment.

The trend in people development has been a while to integrate the learning into the flow of work. Sitting in a classroom for days and then trying to change something also in real life starts to be frustrating for many. We need to be more dynamic in the ways we offer learning opportunities. This brings us to ideas of blending methods and content formats in need-based ways. It doesn´t matter that much which format the content is in, the most crucial aspect is to match the targets and modalities to job roles and make sure that learning is practical and engaging.  

Employers would like all employees to take advantage of the learning opportunities, but it isn’t easy to ensure a total balance. Some people are booked in work tasks all day long, some work different shifts, and others are out of the office visiting customers. When we add different locations and time zones, it takes more creativity to plan a well-fitting learning strategy. 

Digital learning as a trend
Digital learning is not a new thing, and it has been in the talks for more than 30 years. Working in digital learning and the first e-learning hype around the year 2000, we thought digital would replace most traditional training and development. From those days, blended learning (an early concept developed in the 1960s) and flipped classrooms, amongst many other great concepts, has (slowly) found their way to the workplaces and shown to be a robust foundation for creating impactful learning. 

Talking about digital, the best thing that technology can offer for learning is scale and automation in common areas (e.g., keeping track, suggesting learnings, repetition). In all honesty, traditional training and people development have been inefficient in terms of scalability. Twenty people in one classroom for two days is not the most scalable solution. How about scaling the same content and learning with online supported processes in 100+ countries in a fraction of the time? One more upside is that we don´t have to worry anymore about stacking agendas full of content. Instead, we can offer people on-demand learning targeted in the areas they feel they need the most help with, hopefully, related to company-level strategic initiatives. With the experience from the latest months, we will not most likely see many organizations going back to the old levels of face-to-face training and collaboration anymore.

We will see massive growth in the ways capabilities are developed by providing shorter, structured learning journeys and microlearning (small nuggets) available anytime, anywhere, on any device. However - like mentioned before - this approach becomes most potent when the learning assigned and provided to people matches the strategic scope fully. That doesn´t mean that all the face-to-face will die - it won´t and holds many well-known benefits, but it will get more punchy and targeted. When people are together, they will not waste time listening to lectures. Instead, they use the mutual time to interact and reflect on learnings and experiences and build shared reality (flipped and social learning). 

Lack of time means smaller chunks
According to surveys, the lack of time means that people have less than half an hour weekly dedicated time to learn. However, they still have those roughly 40 hours to use their skills in their work - so be where the learning happens! We have a lot of evidence that offering smaller chunks of learning and combining it with other modalities, including internal reinforcement structures in smaller units, strengthens learning majorly. This approach enables the learner to search for content they need, learn something in real-time on the job and immediately apply what they’ve learned, maybe even share it with colleagues in real-time. They can also directly reflect on the learnings and seek more insights. If you want to make sure that your people feel they get real help to perform better and get better business outcomes - this is something you have to apply if you haven´t already. It starts to be mainstream and continues to grow fast. 


 If this got you interested in more, be sure to follow the other topics with deeper insights by clicking the links:

Part 1/4: Strengthening L&D´s role as a critical strategic value driver

Part 2/4: Transform your culture of learning

Part 3/4: Individualized Learning Experiences 

Part 4/4: New technologies to expand L&D opportunities + conclusions.



AUTHOR Jukka Sundberg

Jukka is a seasoned professional with 20 years of experience in learning and development in organizations. He started his career in the eLearning industry already year 1999, and since those days, he has worked as a trainer, facilitator, and coach in numerous international companies. Nowadays, he serves as Country Manager in Finland at FranklinCovey North.

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