Alternative Learning Hashtags for Today's Learning Trends
Thursday, November 7, 2013

While preparing today for a future speech on learning trends at a Belgian government organization, I was interrupted by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's funny hashtag video. This prompted me to add hashtags to each trend during my speech, as if to say, "These are the things you should be talking about."

Here are hashtags for 11 learning trends learning and development professionals should be thinking about today.


According to Charles Jennings and the Internet Time Alliance, most learning doesn't happen in a formal structured organized (training) way. Most thought leaders agree that some 70 percent of learning comes from unstructured experiential moments. If learning managers can encourage, capture, and share this learning to the benefit of the wider organization, they can really improve results.


Even if you don't buy into the 70:20:10 possibility (why wouldn't you?), you can't live in the learning world these days and not realise that both social media and social learning present massive opportunities to improve learning efficiency and results.


If social learning is important, so are social networks—and the ability to evaluate them and create more influence from within them. Learning professionals must stop considering the organization as a bunch of functional hierarchies and seek to understand the informal learning networks at play and how to profit from them.


Real-time learning is becoming increasingly more important. People can’t wait six months for training when they have a problem today. In order to increase speed to learning, we need to think about quick and easy ways to get people the answers they need to improve their work. The range of tools, expertise and resources available is ever growing and L&D people must support usage, sharing, and effectiveness in order to help people get what they need quickly.

#IFightForTheUser or #OneSizeDoesn’tFitAll

Everything learning professionals do to support or structure learning has to be user-centric. This implies granularity and consumerization. Granularity is all about creating diverse chunks of learning content on different platforms and using different styles—the user can serve herself and take what seems suitable in the format she prefers. Consumerization is about letting people get their hands on learning information and content on whatever device they like.


Big data is getting a lot of press because of its apparent ability to give a better understanding of the reality, create better strategy and achieve more results. Applications within the consumer world are both various and scary. (Yes, they track everything you do on Facebook and use it to sell you stuff!) But the learning world may also be able to profit. If you can capture and assess all performance metrics in the organisation quickly, you will be able to see trends and create better approaches to improving performance through learning.



Okay, I stole the title of this hashtag from Deepak Malhotra’s great book of the same name L . In today’s VUCA business environment, things change all the time. Our learning approaches need to be equally adaptive. In training, although we may have designed for 12 people (and even if we may have a set plan of learning activities), to have real impact we need to be able to incorporate flexible strategies to account for different previously unknown needs that “appear out of nowhere.”

In workplace-based learning, we need to be able to quickly identify need news and reply with relevant and timely adapted learning. Challenges to adaptive learning include “data-mining” and “scaling.” If we are going to continuously adapt to the environment, we need to be able to plough through massive amounts of available information in order to assess changes and trends and reply with the right answer for all the right people, right now!


Immersive and authentic learning is likely to grow in importance, as learning professionals understand the needs of the business and how learners interact with content. Models and theories in classroom environments are good for the many things, but there are other ways to create a more engaging and authentic learning environment.

Learning platforms that combine rich digital media with simulation and virtual reality may be one answer. Gamified learning is another. Augmented reality also has potetional.


If CEOs hate learning and development people, the mostly likely reason is lack of business acumen and poor marketing/sales skills. In many organizations, the learning function grew out of an administrative part of HR that managed sending people to training. The work and measurement of those people were based around how many people went to training and whether or not they liked it.

Today, even if learning people all know that it’s the result that counts and not the method, many are unable to understand core business problems and articulate proposed learning solutions. L&D people must have good business acumen and marketing/sales skills.


L&D people need to stop doing things for themselves and get people from within and around the organization more involved in learning design, support, and delivery. And sometimes, we need to realize that not everything has to be designed and structured for the learner—he can do some things himself!


Given the massive amount of information and resources available for our people to learn, it can be helpful to have someone filtering, contextualising and sharing information for different target groups. The skill of curation is becoming more and more important in the learning world.

Other hashtags that didn’t make the list today—but may be used in the future include:

  • #SpoonfulOfSugarHelpsTheMedicineGoDown for gamification
  • #MyThirdHand for mobile + iPad
  • #7BillionLearningStyles because “learning styles” is a myth
  • #BlokeInThePubSaidItSoItMustBeTrue for 70:20:10
  • #AustralianEducation for “flipped-classroom”
About the Author

Dan Steer is a freelance learning consultant, trainer and speaker living and working in Belgium. He believes the world would be a better place if everyone was competently doing what they loved, and it is his mission to help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating infinite learning opportunities; @dan_steer.

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