Technology changes so rapidly these days it’s hard to predict what will be next and how it - whatever “it” is - will shape the way that we live. Social media has impacted the way that we communicate with old friends, catch up on news, and even do business, but 10 years ago, social media had a completely different landscape.
Each year, we work to predict what will be coming down the pipeline for the technology we create and how users interface with that technology. There are three big trends that we continue to hear more and more about, and you should continue to explore on your own in order to have the edge on the learning and development industry. Whether you’re an early adopter of technology or not, it is necessary to follow the trends to ensure you’re not missing out on the best advancements you can make for your employees.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) has been the buzz for the last few years but has not been widely adopted as of yet. It is expensive and the tools have not been refined enough for mass consumption, however, prices are falling and the use cases and refinement for tools such as VR are gaining momentum. It is not far-fetched to imagine a future where technical skills are measured in completely virtual environments that are realistic. Instead of sitting down in front of a computer screen to watch a video about procedural actions, learners could be completely immersed in an environment that is modeled after the real-world where they continue their training in a much more hands-on fashion. The implications for high-risk environments, technical tasks, and complex procedural activities could be huge! This is definitely a trend to keep in the back of your mind as you continue to develop your own training and development especially if you work in environments like the aforementioned.
If you are interested in exploring more about what VR and AR might do to your training process, it would be worthwhile to thoroughly assess where, what and whom would benefit from receiving training like this and how your training process would need to be changed to accommodate technology advancements such as these.
Microlearning might no longer be considered a trend as it is definitely here to stay. To catch you up, microlearning is the practice of delivering training in short bursts. This type of learning ensures that learners are actively engaged in their learning while it is taking place, and what is being learned is able to be used quickly within the real world environment. Instead of drawn out lessons, microlearning is able to be completed in short stints throughout the workday and when necessary, instead of setting aside time to consume a longer lesson.
With shortened attention spans and with so many other things competing for our brain space at any given time, it’s no wonder that microlearning is trending but ultimately around to stay. To adopt some microlearning principles into your courses and content, aim to make lessons short if they are a video, or to divide up reading if it is long. Additionally, encourage your work culture to adapt to where it is acceptable to stop your work and take a lesson when it is appropriate, as opposed to having communal learning and development time on a calendar.
Finally, social learning. Any type of learning that can happen in a community setting, but still online. This can be through discussion boards, projects, or even interactive assignments. Investing in a collaborative learning platform is now more important than ever. With an uptick in social learning, adopting a platform that has a more collaborative nature with enhanced features will help your organization keep up with the latest trends in social learning. Social learning has been proven to increase memory retention and result in higher engagement - two things that more learning and development managers are looking for in the success of their program.
Getting more employees and team members involved in the education of their peers ensures that there are no employees that hold all the knowledge, and this helps guide more mentorship opportunities without a formalized program. The continuity of knowledge greatly increases as social learning opportunities increase in an organization. This also helps if your company experiences higher turnover, where employees with the greatest knowledge might leave and their skills and best practices may leave with them. Putting all employees into more social learning environments through online tools can keep that information around to stay!
These three trends and others will continue to gain momentum in the learning and development programs of many businesses and we don’t see these possibilities going away anytime soon. Finding an LMS vendor that is willing to explore, or already is exploring these capabilities, will be important to stay on trend and keep your training or learning and development exciting and fresh.