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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  • Definitely, the transformation of learning and development as a function over the years has been tangible, in my experience I saw the shift of words from "instructor" or "trainer", to "facilitator". What I like most is that it shifts the ownership of learning and development in a way to the one receiving, and a balanced distance from the one giving.

    I remember when in the organization I work in, the majority of trainings were viewed as checking a box the HR department want you to finish, without real understanding on it's impact on the business (or coworker engagement/retention). With the global raised awareness and, finally, the link between people growth=business growth, there's a fair amount of Pull from management for asessment and analysis based competence & skills development.

    The biggest challenge remains with L&D teams evolving their understanding as fast as the businesses change, and mirror that in-depth understanding of the business's practical and applied needs. Ofcourse I say this having worked only in a global retail background, that require more operational competencies and skills rather than theortetical and strategic. Usually in those situations comments would sound like "the L&D team is focusing on soft skills, which is not what we really need right now", though I would argue the opposite.

  • Thanks Karen and those that commented below on all these different insights into the changes in L&D and what challenges people have faced recently and how they have implemented ways to adapt to current times.

    The biggest change I've faced has been moving away from more traditional classroom based learning to training through micosoft teams/webex or creating training videos. Our organisation was moving in that direction but covid-19 has really accelerated that journey as more and more training becomes digitized.


  • Thank you Karen, and to previous respondees in the thread. The organisation I'm in has had to adapt very quickly to the current environment, and it seems that, for the moment the rest of the business is 'keeping up' with our way of thinking as an L&D function. It's not perfect by an stretch but I think as long as there are those, even if they're a minority, that think forward then our funtion will always be effective. The pandemic has certainly accelerated thier thinking and this can only be a good thing IMO, I type now from my office at home, whereas 6-12 moths ago it would've been from my training room as an example! 

    Jason Fox - You make very interesting point regarding the 'shop owner' mentality and it's certainly something I can relate to. Being part of a training delivery team, we were recently refererd to as the 'Actors' in the film, the Development team were the 'Producers' and SME's as 'Directors'; at the time I felt I was done a diservice, I know feel my opinion of the remarks were validated.

  • Right now, Im working alongside managers and our partners Junglemap to create new content to be delivered through micro learning/nano learning/bite size learning/whatever you want to call it.

    On demand learning that can adapt content to change and pace quickly, confirms learning and the transfer to the workplace, uses a knowledge checkback and can be personalised to large or small groups. Its almost an LMS, but more agile and not as clunky. Its a development beyond what we had originally intended to use for remote onboarding to the wider business.

    Its still a work in progress, but managers are valuing the benefits much more now. Its not generational though, I dont find that any generation finds it harder or easier than others.


    There are three reasons innovators are transforming awareness training now:Coronavirus has visualized that an annual approach to awareness-training i…
  • Thanks for this Karen, its so insightful and it leads me to think how in the current climate we have practically pivoted overnight to remote, webinar sessions with group discussions no longer being held in small groups around tables, but instead in break out rooms via Teams/Zoom!

  • Thanks for this Karen very thought provoking.  Our challenges have been the pace at which we have embraced digital, with technology being a nice to have rather than something we should be embracing.  The tried and tested go to a classroom, take 6 months to create and currate material and add to e-learning modules being the norm.. Covid has made our team in particular push the boundaries at pace, with the use of digitial offerings, thinking about technical learning platforms, virtual learning options with the speed of turnaround and delivery being key in financial services, even looking at how the schools are doing it has given us food for thought in our aim to evolve and work smart. 

  • Having been an attendee of many a training course during my working life, I can definitely concur with the changes during this timeframe but as other commentors have said, there is a still a reliance on classroom based training.  If there is one thing that Covid-19 has taught me then it is how to adapt to change and seek out new ways of training delivery outside of a classroom environment.  One method we have been using especially for task based learning is instructional videos.  Like you tube, these videos give a 'how to' guide, and have saved hundreds of hours of unnecessary classroom based training.  

    • Hi Paul,

      Great idea using instructional videos, are these made by your team with SMEs? Or are you using 'people on the ground' so to speak and encouraging learners to share their own experience and know-how and so engaging in social learning. In my experience this really pushes people out of their comfort zone. Certainly before COVID-19 nobody liked being on camera much! However when the initial apprehension is overcome, you then begin to see a shift from L&D being creators to curators of the content like the interview with Ian Pettigrew suggests. 

      • I'll chip in and agree totally. The pandemic is dreadful, it goes without saying - it has, however, accelerated the move to digital learning.

        I like the idea of making videos. I've read articles where workers in DIY stores video themselves on their phones unpacking new products and share the videos with staff in other locations who are due to receive the new products shortly afterwards. It's a great example of 'hive' learning, experiential learning and I guess it it 'learning in the flow' too.

        Curation is a fascinating subject for me, I read a quote recently describing curation as: "a drive to find the interesting, meaningful, and relevant amidst the vast maze of overabundant information".

        That's by 

        Maria Popova, who can be found doing an infinitely better job of writing than I on twitter @brainpicker
        As an aside, I think this thread will be really useful to anyone studying DPG's L&D programmes as you are expected to write about L&D evolution in the assessments.
        This is the thread I mentioned to you Jenny Bagley 
  • Found this a very interesting read and have seen the changes over the last 10 years from that "sit down, be quiet and listen for 6hrs" class room way of training to a more interactive, bite size way. Also Iv encountered many a trainer who thrived on talking about themselves for most of the session rather than actually train to which I have always made sure I never did that. And now we have all had to adapt pretty quickly to the current situation and find new ways such as webinars and e-learning. I like the idea of online community groups and will be putting this forward to the organisation I work for.

    Thank you. 

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