MWL: A new approach to Workplace Learning

This is a page of the first FREE section of MWL 2022. You can purchase access to the full resource HERE



In the workplace the individual lies at the centre of their learning and development. Modern Workplace Learning offers an HOLISTIC approach to organisational learning that supports ALL the ways of learning. MWL considers the whole person and their diverse learning and development needs.

The primary role of an employee is a “worker” rather than a “learner”. So, what’s wrong with calling them learners? Marc Rosenberg explains …

“Because that’s not who they really are!

CEOs don’t refer to their employees as learners. Customers don’t call their sales reps learners (and sales reps don’t call their customers learners). Front-line supervisors don’t gather their people together and begin meetings with “I want to thank all you learners for coming.”

Calling your people “learners” also reinforces traditional thinking about. Hence in the context of the today’s workplace it is more appropriate should refer to them as modern workers rather than modern learners..


Training is not a synonym of learning. Learning is not a product nor a commodity; it is an internal process, so, in other words:

  • You can’t design learning  – you can design training, a course, or content – but that’s not designing learning
  • You can’t deliver learning – you can deliver training or a course – but that’s not delivering learning
  • You can’t transfer learning – you can (try to) transfer knowledge – but that’s not transferring learning
  • You can’t manage learning – you can manage participation on a training course or access to some online content – but that’s not managing learning. The only person who manages learning is the individual him/herself.

This is not just a case of semantics or being pedantic; euphemisms really don’t help. In fact the misuse of the word “learning” doesn’t just cause confusion, it also perpetuates the idea that “learning” is only something that can be put into someone’s head (in some sort of formal, designed, “packaged” way), when we have seen that most “learning” happens in informal and non-designed ways as people use the Web or carry out their daily work. This latter type of “learning” is just as important, in fact, as has been shown is considered much more valuable than the former. Hence Modern Workplace Learning is more than modern training.


MWL is therefore about enabling and supporting all the 4 D’s of learning; DISCOVERY, DOING, DISCOURSE & DIDACTICS.

It’s also clear that when it comes to Modern Workplace Learning, everyone is responsible for learning at work – not just L&D but the manager and individuals themselves. L&D’s role therefore will be to enable and support all the ways of learning at work. We’ll look at this in more detail on the next page.

⇒   MWL: New roles and responsibilities

Last updated: January 18, 2022 at 9:35 am