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I have worked in L&D since 2001 and have seen so many changes over the years, I thought I would share some of my observations with you.

Back in 2001 the department was called Training and Development (T&D) and we changed to Learning & Development over the last few years. 

Training was mainly face to face workshops with workbooks to complete and take away.  There was more of a ‘tell’ culture in the learning classroom, I remember my train the trainer course where we were told ‘tell them, tell them and tell them again’. Since then I have been introduced to Charles Jennings 70:20:10 model. This was a big shift change in mindset for organisations who had previously done 70% or sometimes more formal learning and little on the job learning or encouraging learning from others. A more blended approach to learning has been adopted over recent years.

Another change I have seen is how we have moved from looking at learning styles. We used the Honey and Mumford model when I started working in learning. Now we look more at learner’s generation type and adapt the learning accordingly. For example, millennials prefer informal learning and ‘just in time’ learning which has seen more bitesize learning sessions (microlearning) being created rather than full day workshops.

There has also been a great increase in digital learning. The CIPD reports that “Digital learning has progressed rapidly since the coining of the term 'e-learning' at the turn of the century and now encompasses websites, e-books, social media and online communities, online lectures, webinars, podcasts and microblogging. As such, it has proven to be a viable way of training and developing people in organisational settings, and one that forms part (though not all) of an organisation's wider learning strategy.”

I have seen L&D departments move to a Learning Management System (LMS), so a virtual learning environment over the last few years. The system manages and delivers content and looks after course administration, tracking progress and assessments for each learner. When I first started working in L&D, we had a more manual approach to keeping training records and had a dedicated Learning Support Team that looked after this.

L&D will continue to evolve, and L&D teams need to make sure they are keeping up with the fast pace of change to engage their learners and develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours that will be needed for professions of the future.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you have seen L&D evolve and change over the years!


Karen :)

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  • I am reading this as part of my L&D Level 5 course but agree with your comments.  I have worked in L&D across a variety of roles for over 20 years and have seen a significant move from face to face training delivery to a more experiential way of learning and digital learning.  I am now in a position to influence forced changes of delivery due to covid, to an organisation very traditional in their delivery methodology and excited to update my knowledge of more current practice to inform the establishment and modernise delivery.

  • Hi Karen

    Such an interesting post, thank you for sharing your insights. I started my HR career back in the mid 1990s and quickly realised I much preferred training and so specialised in that field by studying my Certificate in Training Practice.

    Like you I remember training being about face to face delivery and very much about the trainer leading the session, I'm the expert with all the answers and I'm here to teach you stuff. Training was initially a separate function however we merged this into personnel, welfare, pay and expenses to create this new fangled thing called human resources (I have to say on a personal note I've never really like the term as I'm not a resource I am a person so I'm really pleased to see the term 'People Teams' or 'People Hubs' gaining traction .. however I digress!).

    I'd say a number of changes have occured in this space not least the structural aspect of the learning function and where it sits. Firstly business has realised that face to face training can be expensive in terms of time and money. Secondly much of what we used to train tended to be quite transactional stuff and most of this has either been replaced by technology or is simply obsolete. Thirdly, and perhaps the game changer, a recognition that this isn't a 'one size fits all' and to your point Karen that there's something about how people like to learn. You could also build on that the availability of online platforms which we just didn't have in 1995!

    Some of my major influences in thinking have been around 'growth mindset' (Dweck) and the learning organisation (Senge) this has really helped me consider approaches to L&D whilst ensuring that the learning offer aligns to business need.

    As others have said I'd be cautious of the generational segmentation that seems to be popular. My view is that this feels like lazy thinking, neatly putting people into 'boxes' is easy to do, I think humans are a little more complex than that! I guess that's why I've been attracted by Dweck's work on growth mindset which basically offers this view, everyone is capable of learning.

    Our job in L&D is to enable that to happen and to provide the organisation the tools/platform to make that happen.

  • Thanks, Karen great post, this is certainly my experience of L and D in the education sector.

  • Hi Karen,

    Great post and highly relatable. I have recently started my Level 5 L&D diploma and find this really useful and it's helped me reflect on my own experiences- having made similar observations myself.  Thanks for sharing!

    All the best,


    • Thanks Rich,  Good Luck with your Level 5 L&D diploma.


      Karen :)

  • + 1 Richard, Generation X wasnt only a good band too....

  • Hi Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, it's useful to hear from someone with experience about these changes. But to be honest, I feel that it's unwise to connect the needs of the 'modern worker' (outlined in the Deloitte report you've linked to below) to generational differences. My understanding is that a 'modern worker' is simply someone in employment now. They could be 21, 34, 45, 57 or 64 and have an endlessly diverse range of preferences and needs.
    I'm in my 40s and I want things quickly. I often tend to be digital-first but appreciate face to face learning and the need to take significant time over learning, when necessary. I prefer to make my own decisions about what I learn, when I learn, and how I learn, but I'm not a millenial! And I know people 20 years older than me who are equally, or more, tech-savvy and very much 'down with the kids' in terms of digital tech use, which may or may not affect their learning needs or preferences. I think the article below has some interesting thoughts on this. 
    Experts: Perceptions of multi-generational learning in the workplace are wrong
    A new study reveals that the gap in learning styles between generations is not as wide as many assume.
  • What a great post, I have been in management for a majority of my career, I have seen the changes in focus in the training thats delivered as the world has changed,  The way it was delivered, very much in line with an involved style of workshop.  The switch to the HR function that I made, has meant my focus of L&D has faded, but my passion for it has not.  Looking forward to learning alot more - especially about this 70:20:10 model you speak of.



  • Really enjoyed reading this post and so much in it that I can relate to, despite having been a trainer for just 3 years!

     Having recently progressed into an L&D Trainer role (had previously just been training in small chunks) I have just attended a Train The Trainer course which covered the 70:20:10 model as well as Honey & Mumfords theory and found these particularly relevant and useful. So much training now appears to be designed to be delivered as quickly as possible to minimise impact on service levels and I find its a culture of "I have to be here because my manager told me" rather than people wanting to learn. The changes mentioned in your post support this and it's interesting to see how the theories that you were introduced to have come true and are still relevant now.

     I love delivering training and always enjoy having face to face interaction and while this isnt always the delivery method, I feel it is still the best way to ensure that learners have taken in what you want/need them to. While e-learning can be great, its hard to track the results and benefits of this form of training and bitesize sessions are ideal for refreshers every now and then. In my new role I am really keen to learn and understand more about the new ways of digital learning and how it can help within the role.



  • Hi karen,

    Great post. I totaly agree with how learning and devlopment has changed over the years

    I was reflecting on the type of training that I have received over the years to the way that it is currently evolving in todays world.

    I feel there has definitly been a greater move to "less is more". Less standing in front of groups and reading off loads of slide to a more interactive approach to learning. Encouraging groups to share experiences and knowledge and to be active participants in their learning is gaining more traction as it may viewed as more engaging and the vital information is better retained .

    The evolution of technology has made accessing information to suport learning that much more accessable and the opportunity for driving ones own development is becoming less constricted by time frames as learning is no longer confined to a classroom or specific date and time.

    At the moment gamification is growing in popularirtyas a way to learn as it is taping into the way people like to interact. We have progressed into a digital age where communicating, socalising and learning can be achieved through our mobile devices. People can now learn and discover new things instantly. By incorporating these tools in the learning process provdes a greater reach in the learning and development process as it is providing people a way in which they would like to recieve information but also in a way that they can relate to it and take onboard information in a way that they feel comfortable with,

    It is definitly an exciting time in the world of L&D!



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