It is time to move learning to the adult’s table for active growth. 
If today’s only reliable constant is change, then learning is both crucial and essential, in the globalised, digital workplace.
To survive redundancy is to energise your advance and out-maneuver the slower-moving world of yesterday. 

The approach for unlearning, learning, and relearning is valid for organisations and their people alike. Learning offers a mutually-beneficial synergy for both camps and an opportunity for growth that benefits each stakeholder involved. 

The question begs - how well do we understand learning? Specifically, in terms of how to approach the necessary development needed in the workplace? 

Not very well at all. Our learning journey starts with us – the learner – as a child and, in much of today’s business environment, continues from that starting point. 

Here’s what I mean. Mostly, there are two methodologies for teaching: Pedagogy (Greek for child-leading) and Andragogy (Greek for adult-leading). 

The first, Pedagogy, is a teacher-centered method of instruction. Its approach is to teach the child’s mind as a blank slate, guided by what the teacher deems fit and viewing motivation through the lens of the carrot-and-the-stick – or prizes and punishment. Its top-down approach discourages self-directed learning and encourages the “record and regurgitate” method of learning. 

Unfortunately, the effects of this teaching and learning style have bled into today’s business environment. Typically, corporate training methods still follow traditional formats like the traditional classroom set-up. The result? Attendees view learning as uninteresting and formal, limiting its effectiveness. 

Admittedly, it’s time for a new approach? Andragogy, or adult learning, is not new – it’s been around since learning itself. But, its modern-day understanding was defined by Malcolm Knowles in the 1960s. 

The American adult-education theorist, in exploring “the art and science helping adults learn,” presented six characteristics of the adult learner. They are: 
  1. The learner’s self-concept: that adult learners are self-directed, autonomous, and independent. 
  2. The role of experiences: that adults tend to learn by drawing from their previous experiences. 
  3. Readiness to learn: that adults tend to be ready to learn what they believe they need to know. 
  4. Need to know: that adults need to see the value of learning and why they need to learn. 
  5. Internal motivation: that adults find internal motivation far more rewarding than external forces. 
  6. Orientation to learning: that adults learn from immediate applications, rather than for future uses. 
It’s a radical shift from the traditional perspective, one that still teaches the twenty-first-century employee more like a child than the adult individual that they are.
In her article entitled “Decrypting the modern adult-learner,” Deborah Premraj (a Branding Consultant for a company focused on corporate learning), argues that learning organisations must embrace these principles and foster a culture of ‘self-directed learning at all levels.’ 
Deborah suggests an approach where “facilitators guide on the side rather than a sage of the stage.” She also offers some practical examples like increasing employee-awareness around how they can direct their learning, providing autonomy for learners to choose where, when, and how they can learn; and by leveraging off the power of digital to promote connection and opportunities to share experiences. 
She hits the nail on the head in terms of the digital landscape’s unique and compelling offering to the world of adult learning – it is undoubtedly an active prong to use. That said, learning should not only rely on online channels, mainly when operating across mobile platforms. A McCombs School of Business (University of Texas) Study has found that one’s cognitive capacity “is significantly reduced when your smartphone is in reach.” 
That’s right: the mere proximity to the device inhibits our ability to think and focus. Based on a series of experiments, the study says that “a linear trend suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases.” It’s a frightening fact that shows the pervasiveness of our over-reliance on our mobile phones. 
When you place your phone elsewhere before class, you accelerate your probability for success. I guess that’s the one thing we can keep from the traditional classroom playbook! As for the rest of it: it seems about time to throw it out as we write an entirely new one.