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Trends in learning for small business

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The accessibility and advancement in technology is increasing the scope of learning strategies within small business. As a result, there has been a conscious shift away from traditional learning techniques that were often perceived as dull and boring.

Businesses are now striving to be more flexible and innovative in the way they approach staff training. More engaging and interactive methods are now being utilised, as companies understand what techniques work best to augment training and development.

Let’s take a look into some of these trends and how they tie in with small businesses.

Social learning

Social learning has become increasingly popular among business professionals to engage and motivate their employees to partake in workplace learning. Traditional teaching methods were reliant on learners listening and recording notes in a lecture format. However, social learning relies on interaction and learning via observation of others.

Recently there has been a big push for using social media platforms to encourage this online. These can be global sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn, or internal sites such as MangoApps. 48 per cent of industries are already using social media to enable colleagues to connect and learn with one another. Social learning increases the desire to learn by improving motivation and engagement. It also helps incorporate learning into everyday life giving greater perspective and personal application.

Traditionally, people learn in an autonomous, self-determined way and the social learning method fosters that notion. This is an ideal technique for small business, as it isn’t dependent on costly training and provides a constant source of interaction for colleagues.


Gamification has also increased staff engagement and motivation to learn. The incorporation of levels and achievements as you progress through a course or training module provides learners with a clear objective and desire to improve. It does this by appealing to people’s natural desire to master a task as well as comparing their progress with others. This technique has also shown to improve knowledge retention and satisfaction, in turn improving work efficiency and performance.

Onboarding training

Small businesses are also utilising onboarding training to ensure new employees are fully informed from the commencement of their employment. While not a new initiative, it is becoming far more widespread as employers realise the potential to bypass many face-to-face training sessions that unnecessarily took up valuable time. While perhaps being more applicable to larger corporations, the benefits of onboarding training transfer to any business that is looking to bring in new employees that understand their expectations.

The roll-out of this type of training is also changing. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become popular among individuals and businesses alike as an easily accessible self-paced learning strategy. Some small businesses do not have their own Learning Management System (LMS) and hence this provides the ideal platform to host training such as onboarding.

Cloud LMS

There has also been a shift towards the implementation of a cloud LMS. Cloud computing is a cost effective method of delivering content to employees and also enables flexibility and convenience for people to access content anytime they have internet access. There has already been substantial growth in cloud based authoring tools and it is predicted to accelerate further in the next five years.

Improving the way we access learning material has been the key to progressing small business training. Approximately three-quarters of Australians now own a smartphone and 50 per cent own tablets. Mobile devices are now the most popular tool to access the internet, overtaking desktops and PCs. As a result of this shift, people have greater flexibility to access learning material. In combination with self-paced learning, employees have the potential to undertake learning at a time that suits them. It also promotes micro-learning, which shows that it is more beneficial to consume small pieces of information by retaining user attention and giving them the key points over a smaller time frame. This provides a great advantage for small businesses who have previously found it difficult to implement training and development due to a lack of accessibility to resources or have found employee engagement and participation in training a problem.

Due to the rapid progression of workplace learning, small businesses are able to implement and access content in a more effective and engaging way. Not only this, employees are able to dictate when and where they use the material to allow a more self-directed learning experience. The results are greater participation and motivation among employees, in turn leading to greater productivity and time management.

About the Author:

As the CEO of Pure Learning, Matt Smith, is on a mission to improve the quality of elearning in Australia. Having seen first hand the impact of poor training solutions on business, Matt set out to make organisations smarter through elearning.

An experienced instructional designer, Matt is fascinated by the opportunity to use technology in new and creative ways for learning. Matt founded Pure Learning in 2015 to bring this fresh approach to Australian small-to-medium businesses. Matt believes that developing your staff is the best way to improve your business, and he is particularly passionate about helping people learn.