Author: Sandeep Nahata
Learning Technologies have been moving at a faster pace than we have ever seen before. Over the last few years, we have seen trends make a comeback, become more affordable and kill the hype over what we may have thought was going to be the next big thing! Looking at the current set of products and trends, they all underpin a common need – the learning experience of an end-user. Let’s explore the top 5 trends that most organisations seem to be talking about currently.
With technology advances, attention spans have become smaller as there are more options for users. It is easy for a user to be distracted by something that may be more relevant to them at that moment in time. ‘Relevant to them at that moment of time’ being key. Machine Learning capabilities today allow us to process large volumes of data to know and predict user behaviour based on an earlier pattern by similar users. This means that we can gauge a user’s learning and development needs at that moment and serve what is appropriate.
50% of the jobs that exist today won’t exist by 2030 and 80% of the jobs that will be needed for 2030 don’t even exist today. Those statistics are quite daunting and leave L&D with the task of preparing the workforce for these jobs of the future. To cope with the needs of these ‘unknown roles’, organisations have started to focus on skills-based training instead of role-based training. A skill-based focus allows organisations and individuals to be more agile with development and adapt better to needs as the future unfolds.
The organisation have long talked about the Push vs Pull learning Culture. Push refers to the training that’s assigned to the user while Pull is about the training the user self-assigns for themselves. Organisations with high Pull Learning have been said to have a more mature learning culture. Machine Learning-based intelligent recommendations give this all a very new look as the pull training is (or will be) be determined by how good and relevant the recommendations “pushed” by Machine Learning are.
Learning Journeys have been an established way of grouping training together by the L&D functions to help users take a collection of Learning in a logical order. In the age of social platforms and influencers, people are more likely to follow what people they trust suggest. The ability for users to create and publish learning journeys that others can adopt or use as a starting point drives much stronger results than traditionally published journeys. This also taps into many intrinsic human instincts like social collaboration (looking at learning paths created by colleagues/influencers), gamification (the desire to publish learning journeys that will get wider adoption), accomplishments (seeing that a learning playlist created by you has been widely accepted and appreciated by organisations) and user-generated content.
Microlearning or Bite-Sized Learning was talked about 15 years ago but soon died (or so we thought). With individuals having lower attention spans yet looking to keep themselves engaged in the smallest of the time gaps, traditional eLearning isn’t something that works. People learn better when they are able to consume information when they are most open to it. Setting aside an hour to learn about something when they can watch a 5-minute video is not ideal.
The format of Microlearning though is a lot different from what was anticipated initially. Early adopters who took on the concept of Microlearning started off by splitting their larger eLearning courses into smaller chunks so that users could consume them when convenient. In its new form, microlearning goes way beyond that and needs to be looked at very differently. Microlearning is provided through not just a series of module eLearning but through video, slides of content and podcasts instead. This is done by utilising available web content and aggregating and curating content from reliable sources and presenting it to the user. This allows users to consume content of varying lengths and modalities based on their preference and availability.
These learning trends are very focussed on the end-user and their experience, however, reporting capabilities have also improved along with the rich tools and technologies. This allows having better insights into the organisation’s areas of development, leaving space for more focus on strategy and organisational direction.
As we move into this new era of Learning Trends, there is a strong need for Learning solutions to evolve. Traditional Learning Management systems still have an important role to play in managing compliance and role-based training. Continuing to focus on these allows innovating and managing this very critical component in the best way possible. The Learning Management Solutions will need to continue developing further to provide integrations into the more agile and social learning platforms, allowing organisations to have the best of the two worlds!
The role of L&D will continue to change and become more strategic than ever before. Where historically, L&D has been an important part of the organisation in ensuring compliance and training, they will need to evolve and reinvent themselves in preparing the organisation for the future. Several organisations have renamed the L&D departments to Organisation Development instead, as the wider responsibility is now around preparing for future skills. Where raising expectations would have made the L&D function nervous in the past, technology today allows them to adapt a lot easier.
It’s an interesting time in this space as we are forced to unlearn a lot of traditional methods and learn new ways of Learning! What is your take on the above learning trends or others you may be seeing both in the industry and your organisation? How is your organisation dealing with these changes?