As we start the year I have been thinking about how trends in technology might impact the work that Jeremy and I do, and there is absolutely no doubt that it is going to change the way learners engage with materials over the coming years.
We have seen the rise of mobile and the introduction of wearable technology in 2015. Allowing people to access information and training across a range of devices and in many different environments requires greater integration, more cloud-based learning platforms and the opportunity to provide a more personalised learning journey.
This is leading now to a clear trend towards shorter, video based learning which is illustrated by our own behaviour – look at how we now tend to go to YouTube should we have any ‘how to’ questions that we want answered. Whilst there are many areas where video and game based learning can add real value, as the use of technology to support learning increases I think there will be a need to define what type of training is best suited to leverage the technology.
Where learning is around imparting new information or knowledge, or requires you to show an understanding of knowledge and critical thinking through problem solving, then technology-based solutions will provide ever more creative approaches to satisfy that need and to maximise the flexibility and engagement for the learner.
But a lot of training is designed to develop relevant skills and has objectives that include some elements of behaviour change. In these important areas technology can play a part but there are limits. Skills development and behaviour change (other than some problem solving and critical thinking applications) benefit from an approach that takes account of the importance of mind-set, the need to refine and develop specific techniques around personal interaction and communication, and the ability to identify more subtle learner needs.
Thankfully, these things combine to make the role of the L&D professional and the training consultant critically important. In fact, the impact of technology on the training and development community may well encourage greater effectiveness as L&D professionals focus on the specific areas where they can add most value through face-to-face development programmes.
With this in mind, I believe it is critical that L&D management focus on being seen as true performance experts by the business. By challenging a learning need presented by the business, and understanding that knowledge and some skill elements can be developed by leveraging technology whilst others need face-to-face interaction, L&D have the exciting opportunity to create innovative and holistic solutions. Doing this requires a determination to get to the root causes of the issues that the ‘training’ needs to address. These are often not as simple as providing knowledge or skills but often involve the attitudes of senior management, the responsibilities that individuals need to take, the mind-sets of the performer and the systems and business environment that they operate within.
As in the past, we need to embrace technology – it’s going to happen whatever we think – but the real winners are the people who recognise its limitations as well as its opportunities, and that do not see it as a total solution but something that can add real value as part of a solution. It promises to be an exciting time for those of us in L&D!
How do you think the next few years will impact L&D? Let us know by commenting below – we do read them.