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Future Learning Begins Today

Are you preparing to support learning and development of the workforce of the future? It’s not easy.  Events move so quickly today that preparing for the future has become a thing of the past. The best approach is to roll up your sleeves and get to work today. This can be challenging given the massive disruption taking place in learning technology. It is impossible to keep up with new offerings when no one knows if what works today will be sufficient for tomorrow?

Rather than hitting the panic button, take a deep breath and reflect for a moment. A good place to start is by thinking about the people who showed up for work this morning.

If you work in a global enterprise there is a good chance that no matter how early you arrived today ― someone beat you in the door. In today’s workplace, “morning” is a relative thing. That’s especially true given that for many employees, through the wonders of telecommuting, , the office door might be adjacent to the bedroom and the break room might double as a kitchen.

We have all heard about the large number of millennials entering the workplace. From a population standpoint they surpassed their Gen X counterparts in the U.S. workforce two years ago. It’s a given that this digital generation has high expectations about the use of technology and media at work. They take it for granted that what they do on personal devices at home is also enabled at work, including the ability to tailor the content to their needs and interests.

But don’t forget about the folks who preceded them. Stereotypes are misleading. Boomers and Generations X and Y also desire an equally great experience at work — maybe the only difference between them and their juniors is that they have been conditioned not to expect one.

Taking these factors into account will help provide you to begin your work on building a modern learning experience for your “future today” workforce. Let’s spend a moment to match up the problems outlined above with some solutions:

  • Rapid change/disruptive technology requires a flexible approach to platforms.
  • A global/virtual work environment requires anytime, anywhere delivery of learning content.
  • ALL employees want a great experience.


One challenge employers face is staying current. Technology is changing all the time, and the expense and effort of installing, updating and managing complex IT systems is substantial. If you are not there already, get thee to the cloud. The cloud provides flexibility to adapt as needs evolve, along with regular and seamless updates and management to standards set by service level agreement.

It is unlikely that a single technology is going to deliver everything you need to support today’s workforce. Start thinking about an architecture of systems, linked together with APIs and built around a plug and play approach. Build yourself an ecosystem.

Work Environment

By now we should be all support on-demand access to learning. But we also need to develop a means and a strategy to deliver to multiple devices. A key objective of the technology is the ability to serve up the right content for the right platform. Mobile is not the place for complexity and depth. A right-sized approach to learning content that includes micro learning is essential.

Keeping content up-to-date presents a major challenge to learning and development organizations. The amount of information available in the digital age grows almost uncontrollably. Traditional approaches can’t keep up.  At the same time, others outside the organization are creating their own great content. Do you have a strategy for content curation? If not you should consider developing one.

The Experience

Employees expect the same quality of experience from their everyday lives to be provided for them at work. For learning professionals that involves a host of items that must be considered and perhaps a new role to create – the “Learner Experience Designer.” To support the experience we need to consider not just the learning but also ease of access, navigation, the use of media and a means to personalize.

It can all be a bit daunting and you may decide to panic nonetheless.. However, I ask you to refrain! In the series of blog posts to follow I will explore how the learning ecosystem strategy can solve these issues and support your modern workforce needs.

Next topic:  I’ll share what I consider the key components of a learning ecosystem. In the meantime if you have a question, challenge, or alternate ideas, please post a comment below or reach out to me on LinkedIn ( or Twitter (@pantonelli).

Phil Antonelli works with  large enterprise clients to provide learning strategy, design consultation, and recommendations on the use and adoption of next-generation learning environments. Phil has over 20 years’ experience in leading teams in the design and execution of all forms of training for corporate, university, and government clients.