Get Learning Right: Key Workplace Learning Trends for 2017

Posted on December 12, 2016

Yvonne Chen

Yvonne Chen

Head of Marketing, Udemy for Business

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How do people today learn at work? When and where is the best time and who is learning what? As L&D professionals innovate ways to redefine corporate learning in the new year ahead, we took a deep dive into the patterns of Udemy’s 13 million online students in our latest report—2017 Learning Index Report: 5 Workplace Learning Trends and 5 Predictions for 2017.

Understanding the changing needs of today’s learner can help L&D design the optimal kind of training. So what are the learning preferences of today’s workforce?

Here’s a glimpse into some of the interesting trends we found:

Mobile-on-the-go is the new normal

With smartphones dramatically redefining how we work and play, it’s not surprising that video-based mobile learning is the new normal. We saw a 69% increase of mobile offline usage on our Udemy platform between 2015 and 2016—indicating users are increasingly downloading courses to watch while on the go. The power of mobile learning means anyone—whether on an airplane flight or in a remote region—can acquire new skills and jumpstart their careers. But there’s some nuances on who prefers mobile and when.

To be mobile or not? Depends on what you’re learning

When we took a closer look at our Udemy students, we discovered the likelihood of picking up your smartphone to study depends on what you’re learning. More techie learners honing their IT, software programming, or web development skills preferred their PCs—equipped with larger screens and keyboard for practicing complex coding. Those brushing up their management and marketing skills or diving into fun lifestyle topics like meditation or cooking were more likely to grab their mobile phones and learn on the go.

Mobile learning spikes during the morning commute

But for everyone across the board, we noticed a spike in mobile learning during the morning commute hours between 6:00a.m. to 9:00a.m. This suggests L&D professionals should serve up short, on-demand video courses during employees’ early morning commute. Once employees arrive at their desks, mobile learning takes a dive, especially for technical learners who like to switch to their PC instead. Throughout the day and into the early evening, mobile learning continues to taper off, indicating people like to take a break on their evening commute home. However, a few night owl techie students pick up learning again on their smartphones after 9:00pm, burning the midnight oil.

No one wants to learn on the weekend

Today’s employees also hugely value work/life balance and don’t want to spend time studying on their weekend. Instead, Wednesday afternoon was the most popular time to learn in the workplace based on our Udemy for Business usage data from hundreds of thousands of employees. With key meetings and deliverables out of the way, by Wednesday employees are over the hump and can focus more on learning. L&D should consider making time for learning during the work week and dedicate “learning hours” on employees’ calendars mid-week just like meetings or off sites are scheduled.

These are just a sneak peak into some of the interesting learning trends we discovered from our analysis. For the complete list of trends as well as our predictions for L&D in 2017, check out our new report 2017 Learning Index Report: 5 Workplace Learning Trends and 5 Predictions for 2017.

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