Learning and Development is Changing Through Technology

Posted in : HR Updates on 16 November 2016
Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting
Issues covered:

Last month we took a look at the fast-moving explosion in HR technology, something that we all need to be raising our awareness of and planning for when considering HR strategy.  This month, we extend the theme by focusing on new technology in Learning and Development.

Learning Strategy is Fundamental to Talent Acquisition

There are many reasons why focusing on learning and development is important. Having reviewed the extensive research on it, we know that:

  • Millennials rate training & development as the number one reason to join and stay with a company.
  • The world (not least technology) is changing at an unprecedented pace, opening a skills gap that can only be plugged by more regular personal skill assessment and learning and development.
  • Our understanding of how people learn has changed – people learn in more self-directed, dynamic ways and look for blended learning (from a mixture of sources and formats) incorporating simulations, on-the-job, coaching, online learning, experiential learning, project work, as well as instructor-led

New Gadgets

The possibilities to enhance learning and development experiences and assess the impact that learning is having more accurately is undoubtedly enhanced through the developments in new technology. We are seeing the emergence of a number of seemingly ‘futuristic developments and exciting new gadgets’. Our message is clear on this however;

L&D technology is a vehicle, but cannot replace the quality of content and the relevance of the learning to the individual.

Just two years ago, people were attending L&D conferences focusing on new technology and getting very excited about things like Google Glass. You may remember the spectacles with a built-in computer, inches from your eye. This was going to revolutionise the ability to access information on the go. There were, it transpired, some underestimated safety issues and, in the end, the product was an epic fail.  What we need to be asking ourselves is:

'What will really enhance the learning of my workforce?'

Having said that, a new wave of technology is now taking hold and seems to be here to say, including more legitimate wearable or mobile devices that keep employees informed and connected while on the move. Some will even monitor their location and their heart rate and stress levels. New forms of visual technology are also making virtual and augmented reality more accessible. This means ‘in the field’ and on-the-job training can now be provided more safely in a ‘virtual’ environment which can be accessed anywhere the employer chooses. These developments are exciting and definitely ones to watch.  The move to cloud-based systems offering applications on mobile devices and linked access to interactive learning platforms seems to be the popular trajectory in developing L&D.

More Ways to Deliver Training

Experts suggest that within just five years, learning will look dramatically different from how it looks today.  For instance, as mobile device use is now ubiquitous, the expectation is that most organisations will provide an element of online and social learning which is mobile enabled. IBM for example already have an initiative called Mobile First. IBM actually go into design assuming that the mobile approach will be the primary delivery mode. So mobile is part of learning content design from the outset.

Other elements of L&D technology already developed and expected to be widespread in the near future include the ability to track employee learning and assess learning effectiveness via electronic data and user information.

Blending internal and external content for learning will be much easier, creating individual learning plans for employees, and delivering customized content tailored to learners’ preferences are also likely developments enabled by new technology.

New LEPs (Learning Experience Platforms) such as those offered by PathGather, DeGreed and EdCast bring various learning content together in one user friendly integrated experience.  Users can locate training, read reviews, rate training, watch videos, access online resources and receive coaching, all in one destination. The quality and impact of the learning is monitored through the LEP.

HR / L&D departments also can now automate the process of allocating relevant content to help learners achieve both their personal goals and the objectives set by the business. 

Individual Control

For the first time, employees can now begin to take greater control over their own career development as their feedback can be used to shape their advancement in line with their capabilities and the available succession routes within the business.

This also represents a shift in the role of L&D professionals, saving them time and even enhancing their capabilities in terms of identifying complex patterns which can indicate the most suitable candidates for future leadership.

Key Learning

Our challenge in L&D, mirroring that in HR in general, is to evaluate for ourselves in our own organisations:

  • The impact of current versus potential L&D technologyConsideration of using technology consultants or in-house experts to assist in identifying the best solutions e.g. the opportunity to move closer to fully integrated, user-friendly and intuitive systems which create opportunity for better learning outcomes, better tracking of impact and return on investment.
  • Consideration of using technology consultants or in-house experts to assist in identifying the best solutions e.g. the opportunity to move closer to fully integrated, user-friendly and intuitive systems which create opportunities for better learning outcomes, better tracking of impact and return on investment.
  • The potential gains in investing in technology which could facilitate competitive advantage by providing more accessible, efficient and tailored learning solutions to our workforce.
This article is correct at 16/11/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Angela Schettino. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email Angela.Schettino@thinkpeople.co.uk

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