Technology and the emerging trends in organisational learning
Organisations have, over a period of time, realised that "behavioural change" cannot happen as a result of an isolated learning incident, otherwise known as a "training programme". Today, learning is seen more as a process rather than an event.
Organisations are trading full-day training programmes for learning on demand in the form of small nuggets that are available to employees for just-in time learning. Problem-based learning, experiential and action learning have evolved to new levels. Add to this the right mix of mentoring and "field coaching" programmes along with an opportunity to reach out to your co-workers via a network and voila - you have a new, highly engaged learning environment.
At the centre of these changes in learning methodologies is surely the rapid leap in technology that we have witnessed and continue to witness. Technology plays a critical role in delivering structured learning on demand as well as collaborative user-generated knowledge-building content. For example, technology apps can be used in learning to create a secure video community that allows people to record videos and make them available for others to access at their time and pace. Peers find it easier to collaborate in skill building by posting, annotating and commenting on videos.
New learning system analytics permit training managers to easily view and generate reports on learning statistics and more quickly assess which programs are most effective.
Collaborative knowledge-sharing and cloud-based systems are critical to leverage learners' comfort with social networking, collaboration and communication.
Wikis, blogs, online bulletin boards help chief learning officers embrace Web 2.0 as part of their strategy. In the past few months, several research organisations released new studies on trends in organisational learning and a number of common trends seem to be emerging for 2013 and 2014. These include:
M-Learning: Learning via mobiles, be they smart phones or tablets, are the emerging mainstay for functional training. This is of value to employees on the move, busy executives, telecommuters and pretty much everyone in the spectrum. There is a great buzz around learning apps available for the iPad and Android devices. The power of M-Learning has been heightened by easy access to mobile 3G services, making available video learning and interactive quizzes on the go.
Social learning: This may finally be the year when social learning finally starts to gain some real headway in many organisations. It will need some high-profile case studies to show how some big organisations have made it work and the benefits flowing from it and acceptance of this method of learning will grow.
Personalised learning: Employees are interested in timely learning that can help solve their most urgent problems. This needs learning to be easy to find, and consumable wherever the learner is and whenever they need it. Implications for curriculum designers are they have to stop thinking like academics (teach concepts, give experiential learning to 'captive' students) and more like business people (what is useful now, most efficient and exactly matches my needs). In 2013 and onward, employees will be more vocal about not attending training or education that does not exactly match their world.
Learning integration with work: In 2013, companies will put greater emphasis on learning in the workplace instead of sending folks to class or online training. Leading learning and development (L&D) operations are finding that, by integrating learning and work, they are able to make a significant contribution to the performance of every individual. This is the ultimate implementation of "just-in-time" learning - and means the L&D operation becomes far more facilitation, as opposed to training (or delivering). It means L&D must better equip managers to know how to expertly provide challenging developmental work tasks and to take their coaching skills up a notch. This approach also implies there is a delivery point for every employee - ie a PC, tablet or mobile phone - and the platform to be able to deliver it.
Big Data: Learning Metrics & Analytics. Learning and HR departments are beginning to use "big data" to inform their decisions about employee learning, crunching large amounts of information about learning as it links to performance results, employee satisfaction and retention, hiring and promotion decisions, and bottom-line results. The issue of metrics is critical. Organisations will implement more solid platforms that facilitate the measurement of learning programmes. There must be agreement across the board on measurements, as well as timing and reporting so a learning organisation becomes real, and supports goals.
Cloud-Based LMS: Gone are the days when having your own staff running your own servers behind your own firewall provided a sense of security and control. Cloud computing is emerging as an inexpensive, quick and efficient way of delivering training through LMS. Cloud-based LMSs not only have the capacity to bring down the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), but provide Web 2.0/3.0 capabilities that enhance the user-experience and system adoption of both learners and designers. The future LMS will increasingly be run on cloud for its agile, flexible and economic characteristics. All of these trends come under the umbrella of "work smarter, not harder" and are part of L&D's increasing focus on performance rather than training. Enabling the trends require the deployment of different learning technologies; in most cases the critical technologies to deploy will be e-assessment, e-learning, enterprise content management, collaboration tools, competency management and a Learner Management System.
JOHN DIDOMINIC is executive director of Client Solutions at APMGroup. He can be reached at email@example.com.