I might quibble with Jane Hart’s assertion that continuous learning is a new role for learning and development professionals. However, the more important point is that the urgency for this role shift is growing every day. Workers don’t need a course schedule; they need to continually acquire new knowledge, new skills, and new attitudes. And they need L&D professionals to help them with this learning.
Hart writes that L&D professionals must change their role in these ways:
From “order takers” to business partners [working as a partner with team managers]
From “packaging” content-based solutions to “scaffolding” frameworks for learning to take place [creating the conditions for learning to take place]
From a focus on learning to a focus on performance [learning is a means to an end and that end is performance improvement, whether individuals, teams, or whole organizations]
From teaching “old skills” to modeling “new skills” [working and learning in a collaborative and networked world]
From course designers/trainers to performance, collaboration and professional learning specialists [providing learning assistance where, when, and how it is needed]
I would add these other ways that the L&D role must also change:
From scheduler of courses and workshops to facilitator of on-demand, informal learning experiences
From resource for information on-demand to curator of information vital to organizational performance
From content expert to learning coach
From passive responder to active pusher of information
The need for this role change will continue and become more intense. As I wrote in a previous post:
The accelerating pace of change and competition means that every employee must be learning continuously. Course schedules and annual meetings are insufficient. Managers must make continuous learning part of everyone's job.
T&D professionals have an obligation to meet the learning and performance improvement needs of employees. This means a dramatic shift in role. Resistance to this change is to be expected because designing and delivering courses and workshops is something that they can control and therefore is safe and non-threatening. Continuous workplace learning is ambiguous and messy, but it is imperative that L&D professionals adapt to this evolving role.