Supporting everyday learning – the new work of workplace learning professionals

Image: Fotolia

Image: Fotolia

Everyday learning is the learning that takes place everyday, as individuals do their jobs – individually or working with their internal colleagues, as well as connecting with others in (online) professional networks and channels. It’s about continuously acquiring small pieces of information or skills (often unconsciously) that over time build up into a large body of knowledge or experience, which means an individual becomes proficient in their job and knowledgeable about their industry or profession.

A guest article by Jane Hart, Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

Everyday learning therefore happens in two key ways:

  1. as an integral part of daily working– from a variety of everyday experiences at work
  2. as a personal daily learning activity– from a variety of online/offline, digital and non-digital resources, and contact with different people

Although this type of learning is very different from traditional learning – where knowledge and skills are acquired through a conscious process of studying in the classroom or online (e-learning) – everyday learning is essential, for it is through this type of learning that most people learn how to do their job and improve.

And yet the importance of everyday learning has long been overlooked, undoubtedly due to the fact that the only valid way to learn at work is mostly seen as happening through an educational/training process, which involves the design and delivery of authoritative content, and the management of learners.

But things are changing. More and more people now recognise the critical part that everyday learning plays in their lives, as too is the fact that workplace learning is no longer the sole responsibility of L&D; it’s now up to everyone to take ownership of their self-development. And for managers, in particular, continuous learning is, once again, becoming a key line responsibility.

Supporting everyday learning is therefore the new work of workplace learning professionals, but it is a very different type of work from designing, delivering and managing one-size-fits all content (courses and resources).

(1) It involves working with managers to help them develop the potential of individuals, and encourage their people to become self-organised “learning workers” (a term created by Jacob Morgan in his book The Future of Work). It also means helping them understand that as their team learns from one another in the course of their daily work, social collaboration technologies can help to underpin this, and can provide a safe space for the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

(2) It means not trying to manage or track everyone’s everyday learning (in a LMS) – an impossible task! – but helping individuals  take responsibility for it themselves, and personally log their own learning activities and evidence their new knowledge and abilities, with their managers measuring success in terms of improvements in job and team performance.

(3) It means working with a team to help them to learn how to share (and not over-share) knowledge and experiences, as well as how to support one another using appropriate collaborative technologies and, once again, for the manager to measure the success of these activities through job and team performance indicators.

We’ll be considering the new work of supporting everyday learning in a Learning Café at OEB 2015, the annual conference on technology supported learning and training ( You can also read more about it in my new book:  Modern Workplace Learning: a resource book for L&D – details at

Jane Hart is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, one of the world’s most visited learning sites on the Web, where she compiles the annual ‘Top 100 Tools for Learning’ list. She is an independent workplace learning consultant, writer and international speaker. Find out more at



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