What’s in store for L&D? Vicky Bartolacci outlines the key themes of 2017 and looks ahead at what to expect in the new year
Organisational change is the new business norm and feeling the impact as much as anyone are those teams responsible for ensuring that workplace L&D is always hitting the mark.
When I look back on this past year, the recurring theme I see is the pressure on these teams to be constantly abreast of new technology and, in some cases, the need to resist expectations (even demands) that you will use something new just because it is available. It is not uncommon now to be asked to change tack mid-project.
A lot of the L&D that I see being well implemented this year has come about because people have stood their ground and stuck to a well thought-out plan, rather than being distracted by something shiny. That is not to say that the shiny thing won’t prove to be useful down the track, but you need time to properly appraise things. And sometimes you need a new skill set, which is one of the big changes we are seeing in the L&D space.
Big data and L&D
The same could be said about the growing and constant flood of data in 2017. We now have so much information available to us that it can be almost a full-time job trying to understand it – and we all know that analysis can quickly become paralysis. When it comes to L&D, it is more important than ever to focus first on the learning need, then to look for the specific data that will support that need.
Of course, there is also a big upside to all of this data. We can now track and analyse learning activity to the same extent that marketers can keep tabs on consumers. It is possible to measure the outcome of learning designs in a truly meaningful way for the very first time.
From my perspective, if everyone involved with L&D can prove measurable performance outcomes on their design and investments then our industry will enter a new world in which solutions that work will be celebrated and those that have clothed the emperor in nothing will be found wanting.
The other big talking point we kept bumping into was the importance of tailoring L&D programs to learner preferences – particularly their desire to aggregate content – and I was delighted to hear that, because it is without a doubt the biggest issue for our industry in the coming year and beyond.
We are all working with a modern generation of always-on learners. Learning in the workfl ow has become the new workplace training, because people simply don’t have the time to spend learning or training as a separate activity; they want and need to learn as they work.
To do that, there is a magical combination of asking the right questions, getting answers via the right content at the right time, while being supported by the right people. This mix of people, content and technology can drive and strengthen the talent pool of any organisation. The digital learning revolution affords an efficient way to guide and support everyone’s potential to the max.
Don’t forget core L&D offerings
We need to be willing and able to develop systems that provide desired content as efficiently as possible and offer as much support as possible. But we must not ignore our own L&D knowledge and expertise. Whether working in-house or consulting to external clients, we must trust our ability and accept our responsibility to offer sound and, where necessary, frank advice. Listen to customers’ requests, but also validate them.
This may sound odd coming from someone who heads up a digital learning company, but I think technology is one case in point. I have no doubt, for example, that there are training programs being developed with a VR component that really don’t need it, which makes it a pretty poor investment (albeit a lot of fun to use).
More important, however, is the need to continue with the core L&D role of providing advice around content and how it is presented.
We hear a lot of talk these days about customisation and the ability to make content our own, but when you drill down a little further we find there are conflicting ideas about what this actually means. Many people are in fact looking for some degree of personalisation that reflects their organisation and its needs, but not the true customisation that they do not have the time or resources to manage.
The reality is that for all the increase in technology, L&D has become even more of a people business, because there is a greater need to talk with all stakeholders about what they are trying to achieve and what is the best way to get there.
e3Learning is dedicated to providing corporate eLearning content that drives change, fosters growth and boosts innovation in ways traditional training cannot. Vicky Bartolacci, general manager at e3Learning, also shares her insights through Twitter. Follow her at https://twitter.com/BartolacciVicky