Principles of Learning & Development

Wits DigitalCampus online short course | Wits Plus contact short course – Opinion piece – Course lecturer Michelle Wolfswinkel


People are the new competitive edge in business. Products or services can be duplicated and emulated by competitors. However, nobody can copy and paste the rich intangible assets of talented employees that radiate potential and performance in an exemplary manner.

Global leadership seems to have grasped this concept and is now investing more than ever in the learning and development of their people. And this investment isn’t just the money allocated to the training budget. Research shows that time set aside for learning and development has quadrupled in multinational companies. Blended learning solutions have yielded a wide array of new learning approaches and tools, including online learning, social learning, and a renewed focus on workplace (or on-the-job) learning. Finally, leaders and experts from across organisational functions are showing a significant increase in the investment of their time, effort, and expertise in learning and development interventions.

This brings us to the challenge that sparked the Principles of Learning and Development online course for Wits DigitalCampus, and Organisational Learning and Development contact course for Wits Plus.

With all this investment in organisational learning and development, leaders from all occupational areas and functional fields are being called to step up their L&D game. In fact, L&D is being called upon to step up their own game. Learning and the development of people in the workplace require a highly specialised and experienced skill set, which few L&D practitioners ever get to master in their career span. Who teaches the teachers? Who trains the trainers? Who provides the skills required to drive occupational learning to the ever-increasing role-players in the space?

A mechanic is taught deep expertise in the trade. Lawyers study and do their time before they handle their first case. Even teachers complete a year of study and practical training that equip them to teach.

Considering the strategic importance of L&D and the ultimate goal of sustainable, lifelong learning in a learning organisation, who are we to believe that just anyone can tackle the highly complex L&D function without a solid foundational knowledge of adult learning, learning needs analysis, and the broad array of learning solutions?

Where does L&D learn L&D?

For a country plagued by poor education systems, yet focused on driving occupational learning, we have remarkably few accredited, quality, tertiary level programmes that upskill people in the field of L&D. Most skilled, senior L&D professionals have done their time in organisations, complementing basic HR diplomas with experiential learning. We offer programmes that equip you to facilitate, assess, moderate, and so forth, but finding a programme that upskills professionals (whether leaders, technical experts, or L&D practitioners) in the professional execution and management of organisational people development is a mission that not even Google accomplishes effortlessly.

Three prevailing trends have paved the way for the development of the Learning and Development short course:

  1. More investment in L&D:
    We know that more L&D is happening than ever before in organisations. We know L&D has become everyone’s business. We know L&D has found its way to the boardroom table. We know that there is a significant increase in L&D budgets, funding, and grants.
  2. More required of L&D professionals:
    We know that most L&D professionals have not had the opportunity to gain deep expertise in their field through tertiary learning. We know that these L&D professionals are being called upon to step up and play a professional, strategic role in their companies. We know that they require learning and development themselves to understand, drive, and deliver into this new mandate.
  3. More fingers in the L&D pie:
    We know that most organisations are leaning on leaders, experts, and technical trainers to co-create and co-facilitate learning interventions. We know that these new role-players may be experts in their field, but they do not necessarily possess the foundational knowledge required to be effective at L&D.

The Wits Plus Learning and Development short course can be completed online with Wits DigitalCampus or through a part-time contact class at Wits Plus.

The course will yield the following benefits for organisational L&D stakeholders:

  • The ability to analyse, plan, source, and deliver quality L&D solutions in organisations
  • The ability to connect and engage adult learners, strengthening commitment to learning and the overall learning relationship
  • The ability to meet professional requirements for learning and development, and improve the credibility of L&D and the overall involvement and collaboration of cross-functional leadership in driving a culture of learning

Learning and development isn’t as simple as it looks. You cannot teach a person anything; you can only make them want to learn. Make sure your L&D professionals and leaders know how to make people want to learn. Invest in the people who invest in people – the return on investment will be people who want to drive learning and people who want to learn.



21st Century Corporate Learning & Development; Trends and Best Practices. Prof. Dr. Nick H.M. van Dam




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