Anton Cabral
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace as all areas of business are being touched by its benefits. Learning and Development (L&D), and the e-Learning industry, in particular, are where digital transformation will have a dramatic impact. Here are the top eight trends to expect in the digital landscape within the next 12 months.

 

  1. Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) are the new portals for learning.
    Let’s start with Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs). LXPs are the next step in the evolution of traditional Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and are a vital solution for L&D in addressing the training needs of an increasingly distributed and digitally enabled workforce. This is where cloud-based LXPs are able to plug the gap by providing an on-demand, always-on, personalised learning experience for employees who are comfortable in the digital space. LXPs serve as platforms for the curation and aggregation of digital content that can be sourced via the internet, augmenting an organisation’s existing internal content. This should take a great load off the shoulders of L&D departments who are often overwhelmed with the responsibility of content creation. But importantly, LXPs are able to provide an interactive hub for employees who wish to extend their knowledge and accelerate their skills faster than ever before.
  2. Learning experiences become customisable for the individual…by the individual.
    There are two points that stand out about the changing environment in which L&D operates: firstly, one size no longer fits all; and secondly, the need to access knowledge on-the-go makes the digital enablement of training material a no-brainer. In time-pressured environments, where people can no longer commit huge chunks of time to attend scheduled training sessions, a more flexible and remotely accessible learning approach is needed.
    Employees should increasingly have control of when and how they choose to skill themselves up. More often than not, they’re looking to access just-in-time knowledge when they need it…with a greater expectation for L&D to present content in new, creative ways. And this is where micro-learning comes into its own – because contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better. Micro-learning – the delivery of content in bite-sized, easily digestible nuggets – allows employees to quickly close skill and knowledge gaps as soon as they arise.
  3. L&D professionals become curators, not just creators.
    The internet presents a veritable smorgasbord of content. For many, it’s also a source of overwhelming or contradictory information. This is where L&D professionals will see the greatest impact of their work: sourcing and vetting the myriad online material available to employees who regularly engage in online content discovery. L&D’s role in aggregating relevant material – to be served via the LXP – will ensure that content is credible, and importantly reflects the company’s point of view. Organisations will soon see that with a well-curated LXP, they can educate and train their people using a broad mix of SCORM-compliant learning (that includes micro-learning nuggets), with external assets like TED Talks or getAbstract articles only a click away. Beth Loeb Davies, director of L&D at Tesla, sums it up perfectly when she says: “At this point, I believe that we don’t need to produce our own content in organizations as often as we did before but rather find the right material and deliver it to those who need it when they need it… People are already learning through alternative media. Our role is becoming to curate resources in the context of the company culture and people’s needs.”
  4. A doubling-down on talent management and retention practices occurs.
    Getting results for a company is not just about hiring people with the right qualifications. It’s about finding people with the right approach, personality, sense of motivation, and who display a cultural fit within a business. Organisations that are becoming digitally transformed find that many roles evolve as silos become less rigid, and they need employees with the soft skills to manage these changes. Finding people with such attributes is challenging, so providing a positive employee experience (Ex) that allows organisations to retain them longer is essential.
  5. Consumerisation of HR grows.
    Employees are customers. Full-stop. Optimising the Ex, to give them a retail experience, is as important as managing a customer’s experience of a brand. In forward-thinking businesses, we’re seeing a growing need to deliver training and education to employees with the same enthusiasm previously reserved for customers. Giving employees a retail experience of learning – where they have control over the time, place, path and pace of their training – via digital learning paths of high-quality digital training materials (articles, video clips, interactive quizzes, text, animation, gamification, live streaming, web tutorials and the like) is what sets modern learning apart.
  6. CIOs evolve to lead tech-strategy.
    “The skill sets expected of CIOs are shifting,” says Tom Davis, chief marketing officer at Forbes Media. “They need to contribute to corporate strategy and manage a lot of change.” That ‘change’ refers to the CIO’s role in leading a business to a place of digital maturity. I’ve said previously that digital maturity is a cultural mindset within an organisation, driven by leadership that is committed to an un-siloed approach to the evaluation and timely implementation of technology. Digital maturity is a state of business readiness and agility, and naturally, there are some organisations that are more mature, and therefore able to outperform those who are not. Those that engage their employees appropriately and effectively through the use of technology, particularly when it comes to L&D, definitely have a head start. This is increasingly the domain of CIOs, where they themselves need to adapt their skills if they want to keep up and remain relevant.
  7. Virtual reality becomes…real.
    Virtual reality (VR) technology is becoming increasingly affordable, and a lot more practical for organisations to use when they need to prepare and train their people to perform high-risk assignments or get their heads around complicated processes. The investment required to train tradespeople in construction and petrochemical industries is significant. It has been especially concerning for ArcelorMittal that more than 50 percent of graduates from their years-long training programmes did not – when it came to the crunch – have the constitution to work at heights. ArcelorMittal addressed this training issue by using a VR technology solution that assisted in the early determination of a candidate’s temperament while evaluating their ability to function effectively in challenging height environments. ArcelorMittal’s VR working-at-heights programme “Using virtual reality to improve safety while working at heights” provides a safe, immersive, simulated real-world experience where employees learn necessary skills. It has also been incorporated into their onboarding experience as an essential tool in screening an applicant’s aptitude for working at heights, and also guides employers in rerouting hesitant candidates towards more suitable trades. Such early interventions have significant positive ROI impacts for HR and L&D departments, and the allocation of their staff training budgets. Specifically, with VR, it allows for digital innovation to overcome corporate problems, and for this to be achieved in a cost-effective manner.
  8. Lastly…gamification is for serious players.
    For organisations committed to the development of a culture of learning amongst their people, there’s nothing like gamification to get employees engaged with the process. From an e-learning perspective, games that embed micro-learning in order to obtain the achievement of necessary skills and knowledge present a great way to incorporate the science of learning. Importantly, while games are designed to be enjoyable and challenging, they’re still serious. The development of games that include realistic scenarios for how business decisions can impact a company’s bottom line has the ability to prepare employees for effective decision-making autonomy.

The digital transformation of L&D requires vision and tenacity. Yet, at the end of the day, a business that can instil a culture of learning in its people is one that gives them the most opportunities for professional growth and personal fulfilment.


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