Modern Workplace Learning

The Problem of Learning habits - Change Requires Time

Hedwig SeipelBensheim (GER), Dezember 2016 - With the advances in digitalization, modern workplace learning is increasingly becoming a focus of theories on the transformation of learning processes in companies. To make the successful leap from theory to practice, though, our beloved learning and teaching habits have to be reexamined and changed. Digital learning designer Hedwig Seipel will give her views on how this can be done constructively at the LEARNTEC congress.

Which learning habits have to change for the contemporary professional world and why?

Hedwig Seipel: Our learning habits are strongly oriented toward consumption, entertainment, and stockpiling. We absorb knowledge in learning spaces passively, want to be well entertained, and learn things for the future without filtering what we really need.

Modern workplace learning generally means, "I work on the knowledge interactively at the place where I am currently working and only learn what I need for my work". The leap from this first learning scenario to the second is enormous, and this is precisely the challenge for the modern professional world.

In addition, we need user-oriented and not just application-oriented learning content. It should not be prepared for transfer into practice, but be the practice itself. The custom of proceeding from theory to practical application has had its day.

Are there particular technical or other skills that specifically need to be taught?

Hedwig Seipel: There are certainly jobs and tasks that require special technical or professional skills, but these are the least of the problem. The focus is on the ability to learn self-reliantly and self-directedly, as well as the capacity to deal with digital media competently. The "new learning" is also a matter of internal attitude. Do I perceive it as a means of personal development or as a factor that disturbs my SOP (standard operating procedure). These skills can only be imparted to a limited extent. They can best be acquired through practical experience and application. Otherwise, there’s a great danger that they remain stuck in theory.

Or do the learners need to longer supervision by trainers, coaches, or tutors?

Hedwig Seipel: I don’t believe the duration of the supervision is decisive. Rather, it depends on the type of supervision and the role assumed by the instructor. The classical roles of teachers, trainers, tutors, etc. are too narrowly defined and hierarchically oriented to survive in the open, digitalized learning environment. The main task of the new learning facilitator revolves around supporting learners in their individual learning processes. And this generally does not take place in a predefined period or at specific time intervals, but on demand, whenever the learner needs it.

Actions require training to become habits. What do you see as realistic learning steps the period of time required for them?

Hedwig Seipel: Modifying habits requires time. A person needs at least 66 days (according to a study published in the "European Journal of Social Psychology") to reprogram habitual practices. How long does a company need to change its learning culture? Without this modification, Modern Workplace Learning cannot function. Every company has to determine the steps required for this change and the length of time necessary by itself.

Are today’s younger generations being equipped with more useful learning habits in school and university?

Hedwig Seipel: I can only answer this question from the subjective perspective of a mother whose daughter is about to graduate high from school. Given the experience of the last twelve years of my daughter’s schooling, I’m unfortunately inclined to say no. My daughter has been fortunate to have had many very modern, innovative, and passionate teachers, but the day-in-day-out reality has not followed suit. To establish future-oriented learning habits at school, it takes more than a handful of committed teachers. This, however, is another issue.

"The Problem of Learning Habits - New Roles in Modern Workplace Learning", Conference Room 4/5, 25 Jan 2017, 11:00-11:30