What would you do if you could build a vision and strategy for learning at your company completely from scratch?  What would your structure and plan be? What specific things would you continue doing and what would you do differently?

The world of learning and work is changing dramatically so you may want to consider a few different areas as you think about your learning vision of the future.

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Culture

How would you imagine the perfect learning culture? Company cultures that support learning as a core, fundamental part of everything employees do every day are realizing their competitive advantage. Also, cultures that identify learning as a key guiding principle enable employees to continue to build the skills that they need for the future. Does your culture put learning front and center?

Content

I know when I ran learning organizations at Sun, Yahoo, and LinkedIn, we thought that we had to create most of the learning content ourselves.  But now, there is so much content out there, you may not need to create all your own anymore. The perfect balance is probably a little of both. What would a new content strategy look like in your company?

Technology

Technology is another component of your vision and strategy that can easily be re-imagined.  Your employees want to learn on-demand and they need personalized content that fits their particular needs. How can you think about learning technology in a new way – in a way that supports what the learner really wants and needs to build relevant skills for the future? Imagine a technology that incorporates curated content, personalization, social features, analytics, and skill plans as the platform that could support your learning strategy.

Analytics

Learning analytics and insights are key to understanding what your employees are learning and what skills they are building.  Does your learning strategy incorporate analyzing learner data and agile improvements so that you can validate and refine your strategy on an ongoing basis?

Internal Skills / Team

What about the people in your learning organization?  Do they have the skills and expertise to take you to the future? They are expanded and different than what might have been enough in the past.

For example, do they know how to curate content and analyze learning data? Can they facilitate online peer-to-peer learning or incorporate video content into in-person training? These are just some of the skills that the learning organization of the future will need.

Vision, strategy, culture, content, technology, analytics, and people. These are just some of the topics I’ll be discussing with Christopher Lind, Learning Experience and Digital Transformation Leader for GE Healthcare at our upcoming LENS conference in Chicago on September 28. I hope you’ll join us so that together we can develop the structure for making your vision a reality.

Many of us have been there. You pull in to LaMars or Krispy Kreme and there is a 10×10 case full of at least 10 choices of donuts. You’ve got sprinkles, filled, iced, cake, yeast, chocolate, vanilla, maple, circle, log…the choices go on.

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The same goes for learning. You do an online search on a subject area in which you need more information, and poof – 200,000 results. You’ve got a library of content to sift through. This many choices can be confusing and maybe even paralyzing in some cases. People think, “Where do I begin” or “How can I find the best of this?” In some spheres, we can rely on expert judgment or crowdsourcing for the initial vetting (think Consumer Reports and Amazon’s star ratings).

But here’s where curation is like donuts – both are better in moderation.

As said by the Oppenheimer AVP of Organizational Development, Patrick Osborne, “There is a diminishing return in having too much content.  One donut is a treat.  Five is a tummy ache.  Ten donuts is a trip to the ER.”

While ten donuts seems like a good idea (been there, done that!), the after effects – not so much. Same goes for content. Too many choices means the user will make no choice – they are too overwhelmed.

In a world of virtually limitless information and learning content, the curator provides a valuable service by simplifying what people see and sifting out all the noise, junk, and inferior options.

Osborne’s advice? “Measure by weight, not by volume.  Be ruthlessly selective. The curator is also a de facto editor.  She decides what people will see, and what they won’t.  There’s an awesome power and responsibility in that.”

It’s good advice, but how does the rubber hit the road? How is Oppenheimer using curation? Well, you will have to come to Degreed LENS in September and attend Patrick’s workshop, “Upskill Yourself: Curating Skills” to find out. Kidding. Kind of.

Like many organizations, Oppenheimer is increasingly hearing from individuals that they have “no time” for learning.  Patrick thinks that’s partly reality but also a statement of modern learner preference—employees want things to be as short, convenient, and interesting as we can make it.  We used to be able to sell 20-30 minute online learning programs.  Now people want 2-3 minute microlearning.

Thanks to curation, the best, most relevant resources for the individual have already been served up in a single place. Oppenheimer is now offering a much broader range of options for learners than they have in the past, and shifting resources away from developing and delivering traditional learning (or outsourcing it) and concentrating on building an infrastructure based on learner centricity.

Patrick’s favorite thing about curation? “I enjoy the challenge of the hunt and the thought that goes into crafting something well.  The mechanics of creating learning pathways are trivially simple.  The challenge (the art?) is in creating a pathway someone would willingly and voluntarily spend time using.  That requires thought and skill and creativity.”

For real this time – Patrick will be speaking about Oppenheimer’s curation journey, alongside Harley-Davidson and St. Charles Consulting Group, at Degreed LENS in September. There are still spots for the conference and his workshop – register and get more information here! Who knows – donuts may be included.

Whether you’ve been in L&D for decades or days, you’ve probably been asked to bake a cake for your company. While you might have also been asked to bake a delicious chocolate cake for a birthday, the cake I am talking about is The Magical Training Cake – the cake your L&D team makes to solve a business pain point.

Typically, the cake needs to solve a problem overnight with a one-time, eight-hour workshop with the goal of naturally sticking forever in the employee’s brain and behavior.

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Mmmm, delicious?! Maybe not.

You’re likely nodding your head “Yes!” when I say many L&D teams have this two-fold struggle:

  1. Stakeholders come to your team with requests to bake/make a training. It might sound like, “We need you to bake a cake to improve frontline managers’ leadership skills.”
  2. You stir and bake for weeks and maybe even months. You pull it out of the oven. You serve the cake to managers. But they report not liking the taste, and some haven’t even taken a single bite.

You feel like you’re pushing the cake in your learners’ faces. You thought the cake was good – why don’t they?

You’d rather feel like you’re creating a pull effect, where your learning products and programs are magnets. They draw employees in.

Here’s one framework you can start using today to clarify a request up front, making sure everyone will like the cake.

Clarify projects with the 3×3 Walkthrough Method

Tom Cavill, a designer based in London, created the 3×3 Walkthrough Method. Cavill created this framework to focus his explanation and storytelling of a new app he created. (You can read here how Tom uses constraints for clarity.)

I think L&D teams could use this framework to clarify internal training initiatives. It helps distill the essence of the initiative so the stakeholders and execs feel empowered to become champions and sponsors of it.

At its most basic level, the 3×3 Walkthrough method also helps learners get instant clarity about the value of a program.

How It Works

The 3×3 Method constrains you to focus on solving this problem by answering why, what and how with only three-words. Here is an example:

3×3 Walkthrough for Leadership Development

A common challenge high-growth teams face is developing leadership skills in younger employees when the company is growing rapidly.

These young stars quickly move into leadership roles, but they don’t have the support and opportunity to learn how to be good managers.

Many companies adopt the same old approach to building leadership programs. Take what other people are doing, find the latest popular leadership framework, force people to go through workshops, and then expect them to become great managers overnight.

Instead, if you understand what’s really going on in your organization, you can use the 3×3 Walkthrough to distill a highly relevant leadership program like the following:

  • Why: Equip new managers
  • What: Leadership Foundation program
  • How: Daily micro habits

Filling out this template when receiving business requests will help you form the foundation to build a compelling case for human-centered learning design as the future of business growth.

Next steps

Take time today to think through the why, what, and how of the latest requests from your business leaders.

Here’s a 3×3 template you can copy and paste:

Why? (… does your product/program/project exist?)
__________
__________
__________

What? (… does your product/program/project do?)
__________
__________
__________

How? (… does your product/program/project differ from what exists?)
__________
__________
__________

Instead of baking cakes, this helps you building a clear, concise path toward an integrated design approach.

Degreed will be hosting a hands-on workshop on Marketing in Learning at the Degreed LENS event on September 28th in Chicago. To register, visit the LENS website here.

**This post appeared in original format on the LinkedIn of Charbel Semaan

Most organizations are feeling the burn of the changes happening in L&D. 60-year careers, multiple generations, a dispersed workforce, decreasing skill tenures. It’s a lot to take on, and it’s putting more pressure on our team’s than ever before. As practitioners, we must be continuously well-versed in at least several areas of expertise to remain relevant and contributing.

Enter the villain in the story – time. It’s something we’re all short on.

So what if you only had time to get stronger in 3 places – where should you focus? Sarice Plate, Xilinx Senior Director of Global Talent Acquisition and Development, has advised her team to get savvy in the following:

  1. Curation

It’s crucial to be able to make sense of the plethora of content that’s available with the click of a button. Not only are we inundated with options, but how do we determine quality on the fly? There are tools like Facebook and Instagram that benefit from causing distractions, not to mention our phones buzz constantly at new alerts and Google returns hundreds of thousands of search results. It’s important to cut through the noise and quickly find relevant content in the moment of need. Hellooooo curation!

“Curators are the great librarians of our time, cataloging and prioritizing the best content,” commented Caroline Soares, Director of Curation Services at Degreed.

2. Marketing

For today’s L&D teams to be successful, they must also act as marketers, selling the need to continuously learn. “We need to appeal to our learners, and being ‘appealing’ is a marketing problem, not a learning issue. As learning people, we need to inspire employees, influence how they behave and compel them to engage with us and our learning, with the goal of motivating engagement,” said Susie Lee, Director of Client Engagement at Degreed.

In her experience at Xilinx, Plate’s team uses their marketing skills almost daily, working to influence the business, and increase stakeholder engagement. As digital transformation continues to saturate, they continue to find themselves more involved in curriculum design rather than just designing and setting up training courses.

3. Technical knowledge and data analytics

Technology is constantly changing, so, L&D practitioners are required to be more digitally savvy, and more technical than ever before. We must understand the tech our employees are already using, write and curate content that’s exciting and consumable. To do that, we must understand consumption, behavior.

These might feel like these skills are completely untraditional for an L&D professional to have. And you’d be right. But with 56% of current workforce skills set not matching organization’s strategy and goals (ATD, Bridging the Skills Gap, 2015), we should do something different than we have been if we want to be successful. And it’s not all bad.

“With the roll out of our new [learning] strategy, every member of my team is now engaged, helping with content curation, consulting with the business to build pathways, designing curriculum to best meet the needs of the business. It’s truly been a shift for some, including myself, but we’re embracing it and we’re making the shift so far successfully.  I think the team overall feels more energized now and excited about our roles and how we can impact and build organizational capability,” said Plate.

Looking for a way to grow your expertise in some of these skills? Skill development workshops at Degreed LENS will cover these themes and more. Join us in Chicago on September 28th!

Technology is changing how we work and collaborate. One of the hottest trends right now is cloud-based team collaboration tools like Hipchat and Slack, which are sweeping the market. There are indications that these types of tools will replace email as the primary tool for workplace communication.

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Slack was launched in 2013, and Hipchat launched in 2010. In a short period of time, the number of companies using these tools has grown exponentially. In four years, Slack has grown to 5 million daily active users and a $3.8 billion valuation. These tools have been so popular that Microsoft and Google are getting into the game as well.

The perks of these cloud-based collaboration tools include a great mobile experience, private and public channels that you can drop in and out of as you need, the ability to search across channels and discussions, integrations with other tools like Degreed, calling, video chat, and even screen sharing.

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Some say that these types of tools will bring the end to email. And more than just email, features like file sharing, screen sharing, calling, and video chat mean that these tools are becoming the center of all work-related activity. Some companies even tout the use of these tools as a workplace perk.

But, if there’s no more email, how are you going to get that awesome Today’s Learning email from Degreed with all those personalized recommendations tailored to your needs and interests? Well, we have good news. Degreed offers integrations with both Hipchat and Slack.

Once you enable the Slack or Hipchat integration on Degreed, these tools immediately begin notifying you when you receive a recommendation in Degreed. Each morning, you’ll see your Today’s Learning list, five items of personalized content just for you, delivered in Slack or Hipchat.

The integration also allows you to scroll through a list of all your Degreed recommendations and Today’s Learning in one place.

Takeaways

Cloud-based collaboration tools, like Hipchat and Slack, are becoming the center of all workplace activity including, messaging, calling, file sharing, video chat, and as an integration point for other enterprise tools. Stay on top of this trend by leveraging the Degreed integration with Slack and Hipchat.

Contact your client experience partner for details on how to enable these integrations for your organization.

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Though in learning now, I started my career in Direct Marketing and Loyalty Card Marketing and Product Development (yes, apologies for calls interrupting your dinner and your exploding mailbox…) I pivoted into HR and led the L&D Technology Products and Implementations for a Fortune 500 Bank. Having to re-invent myself and learn rapidly, I’ve become both fascinated and intrigued at the parallels of marketing and learning. More importantly, I’ve become convinced that L&D could use some marketing love!

But what marketers figured out (and where L&D professionals could benefit) was how we used data to get the right offer to the right customer at the right time while delivering an aspirational customer experience. The result? Engaged customers, changed behavior, and customers coming back for more.
Everyone in L&D and HR is currently obsessed with employee engagement. This has only been increased by everyone trying to figure out how to capitalize on both digital and social transformations, and their impact on employees, work and the workforce. Despite this, nobody is buying what we’re selling in L&D. We need to appeal to our learners, but “appealing” is a marketing problem, not a learning one.

Deloitte data says that nearly 7 out of 10 people they surveyed indicated they’re having a hard time getting workers to engage with L&D offerings.

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I believe the key to achieving success is treating our learners like customers, and then understanding just who they are – the demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, and buying experience/behaviors. You then use that knowledge to cater the message and experience – delivering compelling, relevant offers and products that are meaningful and aspirational.
To understand your customers, I suggest you start by creating learner personas by segmenting your learners based on demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, learning needs and touchpoints. Google definition of a Persona: A persona, (also user persona, customer persona, buyer persona) is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of a specific segment.
You might have 2 personas, you might have 10. But the goal of a persona is to group your learners into categories around goals, challenges and how they operate.

Here is an example.

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Here are 5 marketing practices you can use to increase engagement after defining your customer.

  1. Brand – develop a compelling aspirational brand and value proposition that is relevant for your employee segments. This includes compelling creative (look and feel), communication and messaging. (Think Nike!)
  2. Design – personalize the experience and make them want what you are “selling,” and make it personal. (Think Apple!)
  3. Market – target, make the offer and sell. And make them want to come back for more. (Think about the last time you went to Amazon to buy those killer heels. It starts with serving up relevant experiences, and more expensive shoes with each interaction!)
  4. Listen – get feedback, measure, and use the data collected to adjust. (Simple as thumbs up or down!)
  5. Loyalty – build a continuous relationship with your employees by communicating regularly. (All the retailers above do that well!)

The results
Understanding your customer, the employees, are the key to ensuring you deliver the right experience and get the engagement you expect for your L&D programs and technologies — and a return on your investment. Feel free to check out my recent ATD Webinar on How to Think Like a Marketer. It provides several specific marketing techniques learning practitioners can leverage in their daily work.

So, what are you doing to better understand your employees and encourage them to engage with what you are selling? We would love to hear your ideas!

Even the concept of a career wasn’t immune to today’s disruption. People are changing jobs at record rates, working for more companies doing a variety of jobs throughout their career, and they aren’t immediately cashing out and retiring at 60. Likely at the root of the radicalization of the career is a simple, basic fact: people are living longer.

As said by the authors of the 100-year life in an article for MIT Sloan, “If life expectancy continues to grow at the rate of two to three years every decade, as it has done over the last 150 years, then a child born in Japan in 2007 will have a more than 50% chance of living past the age of 107.”

This translates into 60 – 70-year careers. To stay relevant and employed, the workforce will need to deepen their skills numerous times, and might even want to re-skill entirely in new areas.

“Individuals will take an interest in skills with value that extends beyond the current employer and sector. Skills and knowledge that are portable and externally accredited will be particularly valuable,” wrote Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott in their recent Research feature, The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives.

While ultimately responsible, it’s not just the individual that has a role in continuous development.

The most successful organizations are supporting employees for their roles now and in the future, recognizing their best investment is their people. Top talent is likely the most engaged, and thus, retaining (and attracting!) these people will be a key driver of business outcomes and success.

To keep up, Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report suggests chief learning officers (CLOs) must now become the catalysts for next-generation careers. “They should deliver learning solutions that inspire people to reinvent themselves, develop deep skills, and contribute to the learning of others,” states the report.

Gratton and Scott suggest decentralized and flexible approaches to learning that are driven more by the learner than the employer.

So how do we help our employees deepen the skills they need now, as well as support future development?

To enable learning leaders to better target their learning and development (L&D) investments and help companies close skill gaps, Degreed recently announced a major upgrade to its personalization engine with the release of skill plans.

Leveraging BurningGlass data and machine learning, Degreed’s innovative platform automatically recommends a daily feed of learning resources focused on the skills required for a person’s current job as well as their professional interests and career goals.

“Resolving the persistent gap between the skills employees have – and the ones they need to move into new roles – requires sophisticated personalization capabilities. These recent product upgrades are a giant leap forward for Degreed’s ability to help our users build and recognize the expertise they need for the future,” commented Degreed’s CEO and co-founder David Blake.

Skill plans empower organizations in four main ways:

  • Give purpose to learning activity by tying learning to skills, and skills to roles in your organization.
  • Customize these roles with the competencies and skills that fit your company.
  • Assign employees to specific roles, which will automatically link them to associated learning content.
  • Create learning pathways, and link them to roles.

Want to see what skill plans can do for your organization? Create your Degreed profile today.

Alan Walton is a data scientist at Degreed, but he didn’t start at Degreed with that job title.

Alan got a degree in math, with a minor in logic, and then landed his first job as a developer. Data science is currently one of the hottest jobs in America, but the term “data science” has only recently emerged. It was not a career that Alan had even heard of when he was in school. Like most millennials, Alan tried a few different jobs. His first job out of college was working for a startup where he wore a lot of hats. He worked on integrations, technical support, implementation, and technical writing. Alan started at Degreed as a developer, then worked as a product manager, and now a data scientist.

Alan’s career agility is enabled by his passion for learning. While in college, Alan’s quest for knowledge led him to learn speed reading. But, when walking through the university library one day, a quick calculation led him to realize that even when speed reading, it would still take him 200 years to read every book in the library. He knew he needed an alternative way to focus his learning.

Before Alan started working at Degreed, he stumbled upon Degreed online and became one of its first beta users in 2013. Alan has now accumulated nearly 40,000 points on his Degreed profile, which might make him the highest point earner in the entire Degreed platform. To give you some perspective, I have 12,000 points on my Degreed profile, which is more than most people on Degreed.

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When Alan first became interested in the data science role, he leveraged Degreed to make the transition. He created personal pathways in Degreed with resources from within the Degreed library, online resources, books, videos, and podcasts. He built pathways for data science in general with additional lessons focusing on sub-topics specific to the projects he was working on and the technical tools for his job.

Alan is a member of the data science group on Degreed, follows other data scientists, and follows the data scientist role so the popular articles, videos, and books his data science coworkers are reading plus the resources the organization recommends for this role show up in his Degreed learning feed, which he routinely takes advantage of.

Takeaways

Will Alan be a data scientist for the rest of his career? I doubt it. He says he’s really interested in AI. If you’re interested in gaining the same level of career agility as Alan, Degreed has the development tools to help.

  • Enroll in a pathway on the topic, create your own pathway, or clone an existing pathway and customize it for your needs.
  • Follow experts in the role you are interested in.
  • Join a group.
  • Follow the role, which will automatically link you to learning, pathways, groups, and experts.
  • Interested in learning more about data science? Follow Alan on Degreed or enroll in the Data Science pathway in Degreed.

Already a Degreed client and interested in initiating a targeted development plan at your organization based on roles and skills? For more information, contact your client experience partner at Degreed.

If you’re just getting started, check out get.degreed.com.

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If we look at a traditional education or career path, they might seem quite linear. Your journey likely consisted of going to college, and you might have even known what you wanted to do, which lead to a certain career ladder, lasting decades within a company. The learning resources were in a classroom, training manuals, one-way disseminations of content being pushed to you. The technology was not as flexible or readily accessible.

Fast forward to today. The average career path is no longer linear and probably looks a lot like mine – horizontal, zig-zag, winding, inconsistent – but full of purpose.

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No matter your journey, each step in our learning and career journeys have a purpose in which we are consuming learning content, gaining skills, expanding our networks and going through applied learning experiences that land us in roles and careers that we are (hopefully!) passionate about.

While less prescribed, the new career journey does not come without a set of problems. As learning and training personnel, we are especially aware of the challenges a 60-year career presents and the need to support our workforce in continuous re-skilling.

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It’s probably good then that the amount of content out there is exploding at the same time as new skills are being required for jobs faster than ever before, movement within companies is shifting on a quarterly basis, and competition for talent is at an all-time high.

And that content is being utilized. Degreed found that 70% of workers learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn from videos in any given week.

The explosion of both content informal learning opportunities presents new challenges: where are we seeing the skills we are acquiring? Will we be passed up on job opportunities because we can not show, prove or articulate what we know? The list goes on and on.

So how do we solve for this? How do we make this learning we do matter? How do we show what we are learning from all the articles we read, videos we watch, experiences we have?

Meet Degreed. The New Way of learning has been a challenge, but being able to discover, consume, track, share all my learning within Degreed has helped me and millions of others identify passions, career development pathways, and make sense of all the learning that is happening online and offline to define more of my career path.

We all have a learning journey like mine – all over the place – and Degreed helps make sense of that. We ALL are learning all the time, now it is time to get credit, create purpose and love what you are learning and doing on a daily basis.

Be a part of the new way starting today.

Digital technology has drastically changed the way we learn and consume content. We gravitate towards solutions that are quick and easy, and as a result, informal options – social and on-demand learning – account for the bulk of workers’ development.

The most advanced L&D teams are embracing the trend towards informal, collaborative and social. According to the latest Bersin Corporate Learning Factbook, the best L&D organizations deliver significantly more on-demand resources like articles, videos and books, and up to 20% fewer hours via formal training (ILT, vILT, e-learning).

The general lack of insight into informal learning activities has many L&D leaders asking “How do I know employees are spending time on the right things?”

“We have to start trusting the learner. They know what they need and when they need it, and they’re going to find it,” suggested Jason Hathaway, Director, Content & Learning Solutions at CrossKnowledge.

But truly measuring the value of informal learning can be tricky. At Degreed, we believe in the bigger picture and recommend optimizing for utility and outcomes by asking ”Is the learning people are doing helping them become better at their jobs?”

How can you get an accurate measurement of how informal learning is working when results are not instant and much of the learning people do is happening outside of your company’s LMS?

Let’s say, for example, a salesperson spends lots of time watching product videos and reading about selling techniques. Certain tools allow you to capture data on the use of learning resources, but what you, as the manager or learning leader don’t know is if they are applying those ideas in practice.

So you look to their behavior and results. Are they setting more appointments? Are they closing deals faster? Are they closing bigger deals? Are their customers more satisfied? This is data you might be able to find in CRMs, ERP systems – maybe even in the talent management systems. But the one place you will definitely be able to see results (or not)? Observation.

True learning program success means observable behavior change. It’s a different way to think about ROI, but it’s a KPI’s that really matters.

Additionally, you can focus on the experiences you’re facilitating. “You can’t control what people do, but you can control the environment you provide them. Give learners easy access the best resources, including other peers, ” suggested Todd Tauber, VP of Product Marketing at Degreed.

Most workplace learning infrastructure doesn’t really work for today’s workers, partly because the current systems are built primarily for structured, formal training. But the key to empowering your learners and increasing engagement is recognizing, facilitating and measuring what’s happening in-between those formal learning settings – all of the informal learning that is happening whether it be reading an article, a conversation with a mentor or peer, attending an event, or taking a course.

Ready to start measuring your informal learning experiences? Create your Degreed profile today!

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