Why you need to win the war for learner attention

By Steve George February 09, 2015

We live in an attention economy. There is too much information out there, and simply not enough neural capacity to filter, organize and make sense of it all. The winners in this economy are those who have cultivated the art of attracting attention to themselves. People like Kim Kardashian – who has made a lucrative business out of attracting attention to herself on behalf of sponsors.

I might be pushing it a bit if I said that as a head of L&D you are in direct competition with Kim Kardashian for learner attention, but it is undoubtedly true that your learners are subject to the same dynamic that is seeing the entire information industry chasing a vanishingly small public attention span: ‘Encouraging adults to pay attention to lectures for more than 15 minutes has always been a challenge … However, now, attention spans and patience are measured in minutes and seconds – especially on laptops, tablets, and smartphones’ (Bersin 2014).

Learners are becoming more impatient, more self-directed in their learning, and have ever greater access to always-on mobile computing. This puts you in competition with sources such as Wikipedia and the major social media platforms. We know from research (including the latest report from Towards Maturity) that learners learn best through social collaboration and actively look for this too. These sources can give quick answers to problems your employees face in their everyday work, but the information might not be correct, or aligned with your organisation’s values and compliance obligations. Make no mistake about it: you are engaged in a war for learner attention. Here are five tips for how to win.

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Learning Technologies 2015 wrap-up

By John Helmer January 29, 2015

I write from the floor of Learning Technologies, the UK exhibition and conference – where the learning digerati come every January to pitch, preach, boast and bitch. And as usual it’s bigger and better than ever.

It’s still a ‘niche’ enough industry to cram into two halls – and Learning Technologies gives a unique chance to take a snapshot. So what does this collective selfie tell us?

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Is L&D getting smarter at using technology?

By John Helmer January 26, 2015

It’s that time of year again, when the workforce learning community – or at least, the part of it interested in technology – decamps en masse to the conference halls and exhibition floors of Kensington Olympia. It’s usually the occasion for a collective taking of stock. What’s new, how is the industry changing – and what are the important new priorities for the future?

Here at Lumesse, we’ve seen new research and other evidence that points to a big change underway in our industry, and we’re going to be using the opportunity afforded by this annual gathering of the clans to highlight and investigate this change further.

A couple of reports published at the end of last year together paint an interesting picture of a changed environment for L&D. The Next Evolution of Learning Content (subscription required) from Bersin says that while more learning content is being externally sourced (24%, up from 20% in 2009) increasing amounts of training spend are coming from within business lines, in many cases outside of L&D’s control. Bersin estimates that organisations ‘may be spending 150% to 300% more on training than has been accounted for in the L&D budget alone’.

At the same time, the latest report from Towards Maturity’s ongoing benchmark study (Modernising Learning: Delivering Results) charts the emergence of a ‘Top Deck’ of learning leaders within organisations who are achieving much benefit from deployment of learning technologies, and much higher levels of positive impact on staff behavior.

These two pieces of research evidence, put together, coincide with a pattern of change that we have seen across the industry in the role of L&D, and one which we feel has profound implications for the learning content market.

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Managers push professional development in 2015

By John Helmer January 12, 2015

As we diet, detox and generally steel ourselves to face the challenges of the new year, here’s an interesting infographic from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) to chew on (scroll down). A poll of over 1,200 UK managers reveals that developing their professional skills and those of their team are the top two resolutions of managers for the new year.

Managers' Top 10 resolutions for the New Year

Typically, the impetus behind a new year’s resolution fades faster than a ski tan (surely, health clubs must make a lot of their margin from year-long gym memberships purchased in January and forgotten about by March!). The question this survey begs is how to turn the good intention into a reality, against a background of shrinking L&D budgets and lean operating practices that make it harder than ever to divert employee time away from mainstream activities for learning.

A recent programme we developed for a mobile phone operator addressed just this challenge. And nailed it. The programme won major awards, but more to the point caught on like wildfire among the target staff (marketing professionals) and made a tangible improvement in performance across the organisation.

The secret was that it didn’t attempt to be a ‘course’ in the traditional sense. We combined video ‘explainers’ with a portal and face-to-face motivational events to make the most efficient use of employee time. Learners were engaged, and empowered to be bit more self-directed about how they used the knowledge resources on offer to up their game. They loved it.

We’re running an event about this programme in February – a must for CMOs with global teams to develop, but of relevance also for anyone who needs to develop professional skills across a dispersed organisation in the most efficient and effective way.

Let us know if you’d like more details of that event – or if you’d like to talk to us about your own professional development issues. January resolutions might give you the ‘what’, but your problem then for the next quarter is to work out the ‘how’. At Lumesse, we’re all about the ‘how’!