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Learning Technologies That Will Change the Role of the L&D Professional

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*The advancements in technology are making an obvious impact in every aspect of our daily lives from how we shop and communicate to how we work and run companies. Technology is essential to the day-to-day operation of business and as learning and development professionals, the influence of technology is creeping into how we create, implement, and support education in the corporate sector.

So long are the days when L&D experts built full day, in-class programs to amplify employees’ growth. To continue to be relevant to the needs of adult learners in the business world today, the modern L&D expert should stay ahead of the curve on resources, platforms, tools, and methods to best satisfy those needs. Due to the transformation in learning technologies, the systemic and individual role of L&D will function differently too.

Here are five learning technologies to experiment with now for future success in L&D:

1. AI and Chatbots

Two of the most well-known chatbots are Siri and Alexa. Chatbots are conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The goal is to create a human-like conversation delivered via text or audio. In the L&D world, chatbots can be used to conduct quizzes to detect employees’ progress after a training, deliver learning practice and assessments, and perform a skills gap analysis to roll out questions in manageable chunks and offer feedback. A chatbot can send bite sized learning by selecting an article at random from a curated pool and relay a summary via chat to the learner. It can also be used to ignite a conversation and a human can then take over with an understanding of what the user needs.

AI provides insights based on tons of data which will help learning professionals facilitate the creation of customized learning. By holding a better understanding of learner behaviors and predicting needs, AI will recommend and position content for the learner’s specific gaps similar to the way Netflix or YouTube offer a list of shows or videos you may be interested in watching based on an algorithm of past behavior. As humans, our best option is to understand the jobs of our employees and what tools and techniques are best utilized to drive performance through learning. Our role will become more of a curator of resources and tools.

2. Mobile

As of January 2018, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, according to Pew Research Center. This means that an overwhelming majority of your employees access the internet via their cell phone. Utilizing a smart phone in partnership with delivering learning has many benefits for both the learner and the organization. Accessing content on a mobile device is convenient for the learner because, for better or worse, our cell phones are with many of us at all times. The user is in the driver seat of when is the best time to engage in professional development in the privacy of the environment they choose.

The mobile method also allows for microlearning - short, daily trainings that help reiterate the behaviors or the skills you’re trying to teach the learner which leads to higher success of implementation. For those with busy or unpredictable schedules (everyone) or highly active roles such as clinical professionals, mobile learning allows flexible access to different methods of delivery such as podcasts or YouTube videos at their convenience.

3. Gamification

Gamification is an approach that gives learners the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-life situations through a creative, productive, and engaging experience. Because learners feel like they are playing a game, gamification increases user engagement as well as the retention of information. These simulations can be developed around any subject and adapted for the skill level of the learner. Instances where users must apply understanding of difficult concepts or to test their knowledge, gamification can achieve comprehension in a less formal approach.

This method isn’t just for the digital world either, gamification can be used in face-to-face training to simulate complex issues that teams must solve collaboratively or prepare for crisis situations in a controlled environment. Another benefit of this format, is the learner receives immediate feedback from their choices which helps reinforce the correct learning that improves or changes the behavior of the user.

4. Storytelling

Nowadays, elearning is utilized for delivery of all types of training and there are thousands of web-based courses available. Storytelling in elearning is a technique that helps promote the effectiveness of the program by using narratives to help elicit creativity and transfer knowledge. Research proves that using storytelling in elearning can be a powerful strategy for influencing behavioral change and instilling an organization’s cultural norms. Rather than page after page of text and images, stories that are interweaved in the content enhance learner engagement by focusing on a challenge that incorporates the learning objectives.

The main components of an effective story in elearning include:

  • An objective, challenge, or goal that the protagonist must meet.

  • Characters – at least a protagonist but also consider an antagonist or wise mentor.

  • A plot that follows a tradition story format – introduction, challenge, climax or turning point, and resolution of the challenge.

The L&D person’s role changes to a business consultant by gathering these stories from experts or people within the organization who have successfully overcome the challenges you are setting out to teach people to navigate through.

5. Hybrid Learning

In the adult learning environment, the facilitator is not always the expert or only source of information and knowledge. The participants are and should be a great resource of information and experience. Hybrid learning is an approach that allows participants to access learning in a variety of formats that helps utilize time together in face-to-face formats for conversation and information sharing. In hybrid learning, participants have access to materials in advance, either articles, books, eLearning, podcasts, videos, quizzes, or other formats and when they come together either through webex or in-class, they can engage in more effective forms of learning. Participants discuss their takeaways, how the information applies to their work context, share challenges, ask questions, or practice via case studies or simulations where they apply their learning. The goal of hybrid is to make the learning environment more balanced by effectively meeting all participants where they are and exchanging experiences that strengthen people’s understanding of the concepts being taught. It’s less about the technology and more about utilizing various forms of learning based on their unique needs.

Today, everyone is busy and people need relevant learning content that meets their needs, in the format they desire for convenience, and when they recognize a gap. Our role as L&D experts is becoming more difficult, therefore we must look ahead to learning technologies that help us continue to provide value to customers in the most seamless method. These are just a few of the tools that will shape the future of education in organizations.

*This article was originally published by Training Industry, Inc. You can read the original article by clicking here: Training Industry, Inc.

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