Designing for the Modern Learner

A modern learner is someone who needs to learn fast in an ever-changing environment, and who will access a wide variety of resources to get answers. The key to designing for modern learners is to quickly connect them to the best learning content at their most likely moments of learning need. Everyone learns differently because we don’t use the same tools – and we look for content through different channels.

Crystal Kadakia and Lisa M.D. Owens developed their Learning Cluster Design Model in their book, Designing for Modern Learning. This model is easy to digest and helps enhance learning and development in the workplace.

What are Learning Clusters?

To meet the needs of the modern learner, we need to evolve from designing “one-and-done” training courses to designing learning clusters. Learning clusters surround learners with meaningful content focused on a particular on-the-job capability gap. Learning cluster assets are strategically selected and include social, formal, and immediate touchpoints.

  • Social involves a level of interaction with other people. This can be mentoring/coaching, incentive programs, discussion boards, and critical work experiences.
  • Formal experiences have a clear start and end point, such as e-learning, instructor-led training, assessment, and blended learning.
  • Immediate assets include websites, TedTalks, podcasts, reading lists, quick reference guides, and e-learning.

How Do You Design Learning Clusters?

To design a learning cluster:

  1. Work with the business to identify a capability gap. You will build a learning cluster to address this gap.
  2. Name the learning cluster and develop a strategic performance objective for the cluster that ties to business objectives.
  3. Identify and refresh current learning assets that meet the cluster objective.
  4. Curate and build additional learning assets ensuring there is at least one social, formal, and immediate touchpoint.

Learning clusters enable modern learners to learn whenever, wherever, and however they want or need to learn.

Kathy Wachtel, PeopleResults