December 2011
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TD Magazine

Role of Learning Professionals Changed in 2011

Another year has flown by, and when we examine learning and development in 2011, we find two trends that stand out among the many that are trying to find their place in this field. Collaboration and self-service learning--the major trends that found a strong foothold in 2011--are changing the role of learning professionals and the workplace culture as a whole.

As Pat Galagan points out in her cover article, "You'll Never Work Alone," the human resources function needs to reach beyond its scope to create relationships throughout the entire organization. This era of collaboration not only highlights the need for functions within an organization to work together, but also the need for employees to form teams to become more efficient in their jobs.


We have been seeing self-service learning—or as many say, self-managed learning emerging in the last five years, but it finally took hold in 2011 and is changing the role of the learning professional. As Patricia McLagan writes in her article on page 36, "Learning professionals have the responsibility to help learners become more conscious of and develop their learning proficiency and to better prepare informal helpers (managers, mentors, and co-workers) so the impact of all intentional learning will exponentially expand."

As we see with many major trends, we need to embrace them. Collaboration and self-service learning are not going away. The generations entering the workforce and the technologies that have emerged in the last five years have bolstered these trends, and learning professionals need to help facilitate informal learning activities and the tools that go along with it.

Just think about all that can be gained by the individual and the organization if learning professionals help learners make learning more effective, efficient, productive, innovative, and fun. As McLagan writes, "If we could help learners manage their learning, I speculate that there would be as much as a 500 percent increase in benefits due to clearer intentions, selection of better resources, better information processing and concentration, more focused learning, greater learning transfer, and ultimately, better results."


Paula Ketter

Editor, T+D

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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