The Voice of the Learner: How Employees Learn in 2008

The MASIE Center’s Learning CONSORTIUM has completed a six-month study of 6,100 employees in companies around the world, focusing on how learners perceive their own learning methods.  Following is an executive summary.
 
Learning Methods:

  • Learning Independently: The majority of employees today rely heavily on self-directed, ad hoc and asynchronous resources like e-Learning to learn for work.  In a six-month period of time, 70% turned to reading, 58% searched the web and 58% participated in on-line e-Learning to gain new skills or information for their jobs.
  • YouTube-Type Learning:  Over 30% of respondents viewed a media segment for learning (like a YouTube video) on their computer screens; however, only 6% moved these segments to a portable device like an iPod or MP3 Player.  Mostly, employees indicated that such technology was either not available or not used by their organizations.

Employee/Learner Satisfaction

  • Employees appear satisfied with their ability to learn for work using technology (80%), but are generally less satisfied with the amount of time they have available to learn (48%).  It seems that as options for learning have expanded, perceptions about the availability of time to learn have decreased.  Employees have more learning methods available to them than ever, but have less time to pursue learning and/or feel overwhelmed with their options.

Learner Preferences

  • Learning Changes Ahead: More than half of the employees sampled expect their preferences for how they learn for work to change in the next 2-3 years (54%).
  • High-Touch with High-Tech: Learners appreciate high-touch experiences and indicated wanting more time to receive one-on-one mentoring, coaching or individual training as opposed to OJT or self-directed, ad hoc learning.  This includes group discussions and the ability to directly interact with others at conferences and in classrooms within their own organizations.  Quite a few learners look forward to or hope to get more one-on-one mentoring, coaching or individual training, despite the reality that employees report about having less time for training.

Job Rotation/Stretch Assignments

  • Let Us Stretch: Job Rotation/Stretch Assignments are among the least frequently used learning methods selected only by 11% of employees, predominantly because the opportunities were not available to them.  Half of employees that had not participated in a job rotation/stretch assignment indicated that those opportunities were either not available or not used by their organizations; yet, supporting data suggests that employees overwhelmingly want more of their time dedicated to those kinds of experiences.
Christopher Wofford is Digital Media Producer and host of WebSeries at eCornell.
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