K.C. Blonski, Vice President of Corporate Learning Solutions at American Management Association, talked about leadership’s role in guiding learner-centric education.
Blonski began his thought leadership presentation at the Human Resources Leadership Forum: HR’s Role in Leading Innovation, held on September 19 in New York, by stating he’d be talking about research his company did on the effect of the Internet on today’s learner. But first, he noted characteristics that today’s organizations have in common:
• Flatter due to globalization
• Business priorities always in flux
• Younger, more diverse, and more tech-savvy employees
• Tenured employees looking to update and refresh their skills
• Everything moves faster
• Desire for immediacy—especially when it comes to knowledge
• A push to get the answer and apply it “just in time”
“Many HR learning and development departments struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of their organizations. They often have fewer L&D team members, teams are spread too thin, L&D is unable to spend the time to develop a true 70/20/10 approach, and budgets have been cut. Given the realities of L&D, we now have employee-led or learner-centric education,” said Blonski.
“While the accessibility of learning content is immediately available, the ability to process this information is a relevant consideration of research. When we process information from online sources, we use what are called transactional capabilities of our brain. This means we’re focused more on the search process than what we’re reading or learning about,” he said.
Blonski’s firm wanted to know if accessing information online affects how we assess our own knowledge. “In other words, do Internet searches change how much we want to learn, and do people conflate that external knowledge with their own internal knowledge? Across multiple studies, our research was able to demonstrate that participants equated success in the search process with mastery of the subject. This means they were more concerned with finding something than understanding it, because they could always find it again. Our research uncovered the tipping point between 1) being motivated and engaged, and 2) lacking the emotional intelligence to know what one doesn’t know and being willing to seek those capabilities,” he said.
“If your learners are acquiring knowledge through online sources, are they acquiring the right skill set to support your organization objectives?” Blonski challenged audience members to Google ‘leadership development’ and see if what they find is aligned with what they’re trying to do in their organization.
“We’re all gravitating to online learning, so if we want to embrace learner centricity and allow learners to use the Internet to acquire their own skills, it’s the organization’s responsibility to provide support, guidance, and direction to get them to where we want them to go.” To do this, Bronski provided the following guidelines:
• Recognize the availability of so much content.
• Help your learners find the content that’s most relevant to them.
• Partner with SMEs (internal or external) to create curricula that’s relevant to developing critical skills.
• Help leaders become part of the solution.
• Work with business leaders to identify relevant performance metrics that show business impact.
“Many organizations have training initiatives or strategies, but they don’t have an engagement and implementation strategy. Our responsibility as leaders in L&D and education in HR is to understand the role of leadership in supporting and installing the behaviors that are being taught. We need to support this effort to fully coach, reinforce, and sustain the behaviors so they’re aligned to the objectives and the culture.”
ABOUT K.C. BLONSKI:
K.C. Blonski is the Vice President of Corporate Learning Solutions for American Management Association (AMA). K.C. is responsible for leading AMA’s North American Corporate Learning and Government Solutions team and supports their work in the analysis, development, and implementation of strategies for AMA’s corporate clients. K.C. is an accomplished speaker and recognized thought leader in the fields of learning strategies, customer experience, sales effectiveness, and leadership development and has been in the learning and development space for over 20 years.
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