Principles of Modern Workplace Learning

Modern Workplace Learning (MWL) addresses the issues of the traditional training model and embraces the features of modern professional learning.

ONE – MWL is focused on BOTH individual and organisational improvement and development. In other words, in today’s workplace, formal, career-directed training isn’t the only thing that an employer should provide; there are plenty of other opportunities that can help employees that aren’t exclusively focused on the job at hand.

TWOMWL is not just about ensuring competence, compliance and conformance in today’s jobs but enabling and supporting individuals to learn for many different reasons – to solve their performance problems, equip themselves with the knowledge and skills for the future, to keep up to date and for inspiration.

THREEMWL happens not just through DIDACTICS, but includes DISCOVERY, DISCOURSE and DOING. ie Learning is more than just Training. A much broader understanding of the term “learning” is therefore required – see A word about the Learning word and The difference between formal and informal learning.

FOURMWL therefore does not mean providing a “knowledge dump” (through the design and delivery of content) but helping individuals to learn in many different ways – events, activities, experiences and interactions.

FIVEMWL is a continuous process. This does not mean providing a series of training events, but recognising that learning happens every day in some form or other – planned or unplanned – both inside and outside work. Although organisations do now need to offer a range of continuous learning opportunities, this involvess more than just implementing an online course library (like Lynda or Coursera), as Shelley Osborne explains.

“It’s time for L&D and HR professionals to promote the value of continuous learning and move their teams away from the static programs that helped to breed the bad reputation of corporate training.”

SIX MWL is about personal learning experiences. Whilst some training can be designed with enough flexibility to be personalisable, personal learning experiences come from individuals organising their own learning, so this is a key aspect of MWL.

SEVEN – MWL is everyone’s responsibility. It is up to individuals to take responsibility for their own self-improvement, learning and development and stay relevant in their jobs, hence developing the skills for modern independent learning will be key. It will up to managers to enable and support learning in many different ways, and L&D to support both individuals and managers – rather than “command and control” the whole process.

EIGHTMWL means managers need to value non-formal ways of learning, role model good learning practice themselves and encourage sharing of knowledge and experiences in their teams. In other words, they need to invest time and effort in growing and developing their own people.

NINEMWL realises that some training will be required, but this needs to be done in (cost)-effective and appealing ways for modern employees. However, it is far more important to ensure that training is the most appropriate solution to a problem in the first place, and then, and only then, ensure it is offered to the individuals concerned in a format that is relevant and meaningful for them.

TENMWL is performance-focused. Its success is measured in terms of defined performance outcomes. With this in mind it is best not to refer to your people as learners but rather as workers, employees or colleagues. For more on this see page Stop referring to your people as “learners”


What do you think Modern Workplace Learning looks like in practical terms?

Modern Workplace Learning: Building a Continuous Learning Culture

Last updated: July 27, 2019 at 17:37 pm