Ten tips for modern learning practitioners

Have you resolved to be even more effective as a learning practitioner, but are not sure where to start? Gary Cookson has some top tips to help practitioners focus on what’s essential in the modern, hectic world.

What does it mean to be a skilled learning practitioner today? Our skillset has evolved, but the pressures on us can be many and varied – so what really matters most? Here are some top tips to guide you.

1. Who is really in charge of learning? Our job, if done right, is no longer about just designing and delivering courses, whether they are virtual or face-to-face. We are no longer the font of all knowledge, so get comfortable with people learning wherever and whenever they need to (not just in a live session with you!)

2. Engage with your entire organisation. Consider what areas of the organisation you need to know about. For example, your stakeholders probably use a wide variety of technology – do you know about their pain points? Do you know how the finance and marketing teams do their jobs and how you can help them? Do you know how the organisation encourages and measures performance, and how you can enhance that?

 3. Nurture communities of practice. Connecting people with others is a key skill. Communities of practice are a good place to embed learning and share knowledge. They’re also good places for “social listening”, so you can better understand where your learners’ greatest challenges are.o should your eLearning. Introduce characters, paint a picture of the problems they may be having, then suggest ways to resolve them in the conclusion.

4. Become great at curating resources. There’s more to this than you might think. Curation is a distinct skill which goes beyond just ‘finding stuff’, as it involves fact checking, verifying and assuring quality quality too. Find out what your learner’s biggest problems are (see point 3 above) and give them resources that will help with those.

5. Experiment with different learning content. Video, and especially audio, are forms of content that can easily be broken up into micro-learning to create multi-tasking learning experiences. These are ideal for encouraging people to learn more in the flow of work. If your learners can’t or won’t come to you, then putting yourself in video or audio content also takes you to them.

6. Step outside of the L&D silo. In particular, make friends with those doing other parts of people practise, like HR generalists. They may interact with your stakeholders more than you do, and will almost certainly have useful information that could help you. Don’t see yourself as completely separate – even if you’d like that.

7. Encourage reflection. Individual and team reflection helps to capture and share learning, from working with others and on the job experiences. Help people with the structure for this and ensure that any learning is fed into organisational decision-making.

8. Become professionally qualified. There are multiple routes to do this, but it will enhance your knowledge, reputation and standing, as well as give you a ready-made network to learn from. Consider qualifications outside of the people profession too, that could give you important cross-over skills and knowledge.

9. Use your network. In-person, virtually, on social media or otherwise. There are thousands of learning professionals out there to exchange knowledge with. Find them. Connect with them. Talk to them.

10. Keep learning. Challenge yourself. Read, listen, watch. Be curious and try out new things – you’ll become a better learning practitioner for it. 

About by Gary Cookson

Gary Cookson is a father of four and a husband of one, and runs a successful business in his spare time. He’s an expert in workplace performance, with extensive experience leading and directing HR, OD and L&D functions across all sectors. His clients like working with him as he is authentic, honest, knowledgeable, communicative and people focused, with a broad and deep range of skills and experience. A glance at his prolific social media output will verify this. He is a leading expert in the design and delivery of online and virtual training programmes, an inspiring and entertaining keynote speaker, a trainer on a range of leadership and HR issues and the recipient of multiple industry lists and awards. His book, HR for Hybrid Working, was published in June 2022 by Kogan Page. Find out more at epichr.co.uk/ Follow Gary on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn


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