The Top 25 Articles on Learning of 2017: A Curated List

top 25

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Pink Posse:  Review time. Every Friday this year we’ve corralled and curated the web for you to surface the best articles on all things learning, HR and tech. In case you missed any of our Friday Briefings (unthinkable, we know): here’s the best of the best. We’ve looked at four key themes that got plenty of attention this year:

  1. Continuous and Lifelong Learning
  2. Digital and Workplace Learning Trends
  3. Content Curation for Learning
  4. Practical Tips for Digital and Workplace Learning

Below we’ve pulled together the top 25 articles across these themes. Think of it as an advent calendar for continuous, curated learning. But you can open it all at once. That’s a lot of browser tabs though, so pace yourself – you have all of Christmas. Have a great one!

1. Continuous and Lifelong Learning

The Economist set the tone back in January with a key report on lifelong learning. This was one of the key trends of the year in learning, and many followed their lead. Here are the highlights on that theme:

economist coverWhy Continuous Learning is the new Economic Imperative

If you want to keep earning, you have to keep learning. That was the message behind a special report from The Economist back in January. They focus on why lifelong learning is the new imperative for individuals and companies who want to survive in a changing economy. The whole report is worth a read, it shares examples and case studies on companies like Google who look to hire “learning animals”  – people with an appetite for staying smart and curating relevant content. The Economist on Lifelong learning as an economic imperative


infin_smallMaking Learning a Lifelong Habit

Harvard Business Review followed on from the Economist in February. They shared four tips for developing a lifelong learning habit: Articulate the outcomes you want to achieve, set realistic goals, join a learning community and ditch the distractions. Sensible stuff. If continuous learning was on your resolution list way back on Jan 1st, it’s worth a read. How to make learning a lifelong habit


bookLifelong Learning Makes your Life Longer

HBR kept up this trend in many further articles this year. They went beyond the business benefits of continuous learning and focused on looked at some of the less corporate benefits of making learning a lifelong habit: You’ll live better and longer, make more money and people will like you more. Nice pitch – worked for Dale Carnegie…


learningLifelong Learning Is Essential to Survive: So Why Don’t We Do More of it?

The articles above extolled the benefits of lifelong learning So why don’t we invest more in it? The World Economic Forum released a great paper earlier this year tackling that question. In this overview, they examine why governments and businesses struggle with making continuous learning a reality for employees and citizens: It’s hard to measure and own. The returns are long term and hard to measure, which election and quarterly results driven politicians and CEOs don’t like. It sits in learning and education budgets which aren’t usually the highest priorities and are rife with conservative thinking.  But if we don’t change this, the impact will be severe. If you’re in a learning role it’s a must read. And here’s the full paper if you’ve got time.


ceoHello CEO: What Are You Doing About Lifelong Learning?

This article was even more direct. In an open letter to CEOs a Harvard Business School Professor and a Learning Engineer from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative lay out a challenge to business leaders on lifelong learning: You say your people are your most valuable asset. But are you really investing in their continuous learning when winter (aka machines replacing humans) is coming? There are three things humans can do that machines (currently) can’t: collaborate, emphasise, and make sense of ideas.  That’s where you need to invest.


5hoursThe 5 Hour a Week Rule For Learning

So if you buy into the lifelong learning mantra, you know this: Knowledge is the new money. How how do you grow that asset? There are tools, there are courses, but there’s also just plain hard graft. Michael Simmons wrote a great piece earlier this year which throws down a marker: If you’re not spending 5 hours a week learning, you’re being irresponsible – to yourself, your career, those who rely on you. If that sounds like a big investment, try not learning and see what that costs…

2. Trends In Digital and Workplace Learning

So where are we at in digital learning in our businesses? Are we changing the workplace to enable continuous learning? Here were the key trends, reports and opinion pieces of the year on that ever-knotty question.

tree-426264_960_720110 Trends Disrupting Digital Learning: Bersin’s Review (and our take)

Digital Learning has changed. 10 years ago the default model was buy an Learning Management System and load courses into it. But that’s not enough any more, if it ever was. Veteran analyst Josh Bersin called out the trends that are disrupting the digital learning landscape. The future’s open, continuous and focused on real experience. Sounds like a healthy set of trends to us. We share our take on them here. This was the most shared article on digital learning of the year, with over 18k shares.


LDTML&D: Where Are We Now?Annual Benchmark Report from Towards Maturity

How does your Learning & Development effort compare to your peers? The best data on that question is in the annual Towards Maturity Benchmark Report, published last in November. The key highlights: 

  • L&D teams want to get better at facilitating collaboration, data analytics and digital content
  • The top goals for L&D are increasing self-directed learning and integrating learning with workflow
  • Reflecting that, Curation and Continuous Learning tools were the most piloted new forms of learning technology in 2017
  • But there’s still big gap: only 22% of learning is wholly digital in organisations – and 55% is still completely face to face

Get behind these headlines and read the full benchmarking report here. Congratulations to Laura Overton and the team for another set of insightful findings.

mmMary Meeker’s Internet Trends: All Tech Trends in One Report

While it’s not focused on learning, you will learn something about how digital trends can impact your Learning and HR world by reading it: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report goes macro and micro on the trends that matter globally in Tech. Released in September, it’s worth taking the time to go through all 355 slides if you missed it. TLDR? Oh come on, it’s only once a year. But here are some highlights:

  • The Music Business is growing again, but all the growth is in streaming: Spotify accounts for 20% of global Music Revenue (0% in 2008)
  • Ditto media: the cable cord is being cut. Netflix accounts for 30% of US Home Entertainment Revenue (0% in 2007)
  • Voice is the new search: 20% of internet search queries in 2016 were voice based
  • Ad revenue is growing, but advertising is becoming algorithmic, hyperlocal and transactions in themselves
  • Interactive gaming is at the core of innovation and learning – if you want to see the future of learning, become a gamer. 2.6bn of us already are (100m in 1995)
  • 100% of the top 5 most valuable companies on earth and 40% of the top 20 are Tech companies. Most of them are less than 25 years old, US headquartered, and founded or co-founded by immigrants

mickLearning Technologies: Can’t Get No Satisfaction?

If a product had an average consumer rating of 3 out of 5, you’d be right not to rush into buying it  However, that seems to be score for Learning Management Systems, according to new research from Bersin. 74% of organisations have one. Most don’t think much of theirs, or a lot of their other learning technology. So why do most of it not land well with buyers and end users? Poor learner experience and lack of integration with other systems are the top reasons. But this new research also points to problems with the selection process itself. Read this review of the trouble with Learning Tech from earlier this year before you go back into the market for your next learning technology…

jhBeyond Courses: What Modern Workplace Learning Should Look Like

If you’re in Learning and Development, you already know that the days of being an order taker and hitting every training request nail with a course-shaped hammer are over (and everyone’s grateful). So what’s next? According to Jane Hart, it’s reinventing yourself to be a Modern Learning Advisor. That means a much larger toolkit, and a different attitude to helping people to help themselves. As Jane says: “L&D can’t create everything everyone needs to do their jobs. As it is, individuals are already doing things for themselves and by-passing L&D, so it is time to make a virtue of this fact, and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own continuous self-improvement and self-development.” Find out how to make good on this intention in her article on becoming a Modern Learning Advisor.

jeanneLet’s Blow up HR (and Learning)

It was great to meet Jeanne Meister at Learning Live earlier this year. Her message was clear: You need to break HR and rebuild it if you want to help workers of all ages to get what they need to flourish. The number one factor for millennials in choosing employers is the quality of learning and development (pay is third). Is your Learning Brand attracting them? A good primer to her thinking in this Training Zone interview.


3. Content Curation for Learning

How to make continuous learning work in practice? Content curation is a big part of it. Many writers took on the topic of curation this year – yes, we’re guilty of adding to that, and proud of it. Here are some posts to help you catch up if you’re new to curation for learning and want to get started in 208:


elCLOs: Stop Creating, Start Curating

Echoing the learn to earn sentiment in many of the previous articles, “The Learning Curve is the new earning curve” according to CLO Magazine earlier this year. In this article they call for Chief Learning Officers to stop trying to create learning, and move towards a curated model. That means using AI for recommendations and crowdsourcing good content from multiple sources. You’re going to hear a lot more of this in 2018. Why CLOs need to Move from Conduits to Creators


robin good23 Benefits of Content Curation from Robin Good

If content curation has a hero, that cape has got to go to Robin Good. It was great to get to know him this year, and thanks for all the great feedback and support Robin. In this post he shares 23 benefits of content curation for individuals, teams and organisations. Robin’s right – you have to work hard at curation, but the results are worth it.

curateThe 4 “I”s of Curation For Workplace Learning

Our good friends over at HT2 shared four useful steps in the content curation process for Learning in the Workplace: Inspiration, Instruction, Integration and Implementation. We like the idea of curating learning paths with well connected strands of content, and keeping them fresh. We say I (or aye) to that too  – well we would, as Anders Pink is integrated with HT2’s Red Panda solution :-) Ben Betts sets out the 4 I’s of curation here.


collection3 Ways to Kickstart Curation In the Workplace

Content Curation saves time and helps teams stay productive and filter content so the good stuff rises to the top. So why do many organisations struggle to bring it into their workplaces? Learn Geek (aka JD Dillon) shared 3 steps to kick starting curation at work. 1. Put someone in charge. 2. Reflect openly on what’s working. 3. Encourage people to share. Couldn’t have said it better. Except to add.. 4: Use tools to make it easier. 5. Put curated content where people can easily find it.

deloitteHow To Avoid Learning FOMO with Content Curation: Deloitte’s View

As many of these articles point out, we learn more from internet resources than formal courses. But those resources are not very well filtered or organised. The Fear of missing out on the good stuff is rife. To overcome it, says Deloitte, you need to find, filter and surface relevant content in the right place for your audience. That’s what content curation means. Great article from Deloitte on how to use curation for learning, and the benefits including keeping your team up to speed with change, responding quickly to their needs, reducing costs. If you care about those things in Learning, you should care about curation.

content-curationContent Curation for Learning: Our Free Book

While we are on the topic of curating for continuous learning (which we usually are): We took some time this year to distill the views of many of the writers above and share our own views on the role of content curation. Many thanks to those you contributed and read it. You can get our free book on content curation for learning here.



4. Practical Tips for Workplace and Digital Learning

Beyond curation, here are some articles that stood out for us as strong opinion pieces on how to do a better job of helping people learn at work:

problemHelping People Learn And Do Their Jobs At the Same time

If your idea of learning is plugging out everything that’s to do with work and doing on a course (real or virtual), well – you’re still in the majority. But modern workplaces are seeing learning as a more fluid experience: Learning is work, and work is learning. HBR reviewed the challenges and opportunities with giving employees more freedom to make choices and have more freedom around what and how they learn, while still actually getting stuff done. The key part is how you hire. Learnability is the new core skill for all roles. The seasoned pro or the newbie who’s hungry to learn everything? Yes, both, but if you have to choose…?

leadership-1959544_960_720Leadership Development: Does it Really Work?

As we’ve written before here, the $50bn leadership training industry doesn’t seem to be moving the needle in companies. Only 10% of CEOs think their leadership development initiatives are having an impact. Are the other 90% focusing on the wrong things? Harvard Business Review suggests this week that a lot of formal training isn’t that effective. But there’s hope: Leaders are most effective when they’re learning. But the learning needs to be different: self-directed, experiential and in context. Find out why good leaders are good learners. McKinsey’s new research suggests only four things really make a difference in leadership development. Enabling transfer of learning and helping leaders learn on the job is one of them. 

millenialWant to Change your Learning Mindset? Put a Millennial In Charge


When someone asks for help, do you find yourself reaching back into your working past for examples of how you used to do something? That might be a sign that your learning mindset is stuck in the past. John Barrows,  a CEO of a Sales Training business decided to do something to reboot his approach. He hired a 24 year old, Morgan, and put him in charge of helping him stay up to date. It showed him what we already know in theory: Millennials learn differently. They don’t sit through explanations. They stay on top of new technology and trends. Examples of what worked from 3 years ago are ancient history. They take what they need from different sources and don’t do linear courses. Maybe we all need a Morgan to refresh our approach. Before they become our boss.

welcome4 Examples of Great Onboarding Experiences

It might not have escaped your attention that it’s the season of goodwill -and also for many business the time of a massive spike in seasonal hiring. An employee or isn’t just for Christmas though: All year round you need to focus on how to onboard them in an efficient, supportive and engaging way. You want them to feel “I made a great choice” not “What is this place…”. To help with that, SHRM shared four great ways to onboard new team members. As these case studies show, your learning approach doesn’t have to be an information overload or 3 hours of elearning on the 100 years of your company’s history. Play games, watch videos and welcome new joiners to the party. Just like Christmas.

socialFor Corporate Learning, Context Really is King

Of course you need leaders to carry your strategy through. How are they learning the best way to do that? We’ve talked before in these pages about how leadership training often falls flat. Here’s a different approach: “This is not your Father’s Leadership Learning”. Not a spoiler quote from the Last Jedi but a call to the end of content dumping 65 powerpoint slides (or screens of elearning) in 60 mind numbing minutes. For effective learning, worry less about what gets covered and more about where people learn – in organisations, that means understanding the processes, routines and power bases where learning needs to be embedded to drive behavior change. If you want to be a better learner and leader than your dear old Dad, start here.

microlMicro Learning: Time for some Bigger Ideas?

There were a lot of posts on Micro Learning this year. But there’s good and bad inside that term. At it’s worst, it can mean chunking up a long, dreary course into shorter,  equally dreary 2 minute sequences. But it can be so much more. Our good pal Kirstie Greany at Elucidat shared some great ideas for better micro learning. Think about creating resources that are the best answer to your learners questions and  providing practical resources that solve a problem. That’s how you create micro learning that’s genuinely useful.


slackCould Slack Be The Best Social Learning Tool in your Business?

Using Slack? Us too. It’s changed how the world gets work done. See you later email, you were so 2015. But Slack is for more than collaboration. It’s actually a great social learning tool. Here’s how we think Slack Can Help Your Teams with Informal and Social Learning. And yes, we made a Slack integration for Anders Pink. So it’s not just all talk. It’s free stuff. It’s Christmas after all.


That’s our round up for the best articles on learning this year. What did we miss? Tomorrow’s another day though – and we’ll find content from there by curating it here.