Learning and Development


Learning and development is a function of human resource management that also goes by the names of training and development, human capital development, and human resource development. In essence, learning and development refers to the education solutions delivered to an organization’s workforce. The main purpose of learning and development is to improve the performance of individuals and groups within an organization.

What is Learning and What is Development?

Learning refers to the general or specific education or training that a person acquires to perform a function of their work. Training is often acquired on the job or from within an employee’s organization. These skills are acquired for the specific purpose of being able to conduct a job or to perform a new function within the organization. The education is slightly different as it refers more to academic learning or learning that is less skill-specific and more general to the field.

Development activities are those that enhance an employee’s future growth. Development is often related to an employee’s personal interests and their career path goals. Sometimes organizations use development activities as a form of succession planning. Although an opportunity for promotion may not be immediately available, organizations can encourage employees to plan ahead for these opportunities in the event of turnover.

Planned and Unplanned Learning

Most learning and development programs will have planned learning opportunities, especially at the beginning of an employee’s tenure with an organization. Sometimes throughout the course of an employee’s career, he or she will have opportunities to learn about the work in an informal setting. This type of learning tends to be the most common type of learning that occurs in an organization. It is just in time learning which typically happens on the job and by watching others. Neither planned nor unplanned learning should be seen as more or less beneficial to an employee or organization. Both types of learning are equally important and each serves a very specific purpose.

The ADDIE Model  

When developing a learning and development program, human resource development professionals use the ADDIE model as a framework for determining what training needs to be created.

  • Analysis – The first step in developing training is analysis. Human resource development professionals work with subject matter experts and other stakeholders to determine what the training needs are, how many employees will be trained, and what the impact of the training is predicted to be.
  • Design – Based on the analysis, human resource development professionals will design learning objectives, outline the course content, and determine what is the best way to deliver the training material.
  • Development – During the development state, the course content will be fully created. This process may take time as human resource development professionals work with the stakeholders over several drafts of the content to ensure the objectives are being met.
  • Implementation – This is the phase of the project when learners are invited to take the course and engage with the material. As learners take the course, assessment and tracking data will be collected. This will be used in the next step.
  • Evaluation – Anecdotal data in combination with data collected from the implementation phase will be used to determine if the course met the desired objectives. If the course still needs work, the process will begin all over again.

The process of creating learning and development courses is cyclical and constant. Organizations are constantly growing, evolving, and challenged by demands in the marketplace. As this occurs, employees must be trained to keep up with these changes. Online learning platforms make it easier for learning and development courses to be designed, developed, implemented and evaluated.

Mindflash is a learning management system with integrated content development software and robust tracking and reporting features. Mindflash saves human resource development professionals time in creating and disseminating courses. Sign up for a demo of Mindflash to see how your organization can make planning learning and development opportunities simpler.

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