What new trends and technologies can we use to design and deliver modern training experiences?

This is the question that Jo Cook recently asked me in the Training Journal TJ Talks webinar on Tuesday 25 June. Here are some of the points I made.

If we just think about the technology – in particular the (so-called) learning technologies – what I find is that they are primarily used to automate existing training practices. But, if we think in terms of new trends – this opens up new thinking and doing things differently – and it also means we can consider other technologies for the design and delivery of modern training experiences.  (BTW: I use the term “training experience” to mean anything that L&D does to help people learn – as opposed to a “learning experience” which is what an individual has, which may or may not be the same thing, and even come from a “training experience”.)

So here are 3 meta-trends that I’m seeing which show how new thinking, trends and technologies can be used to offer modern training experiences.

First of all, VERSATILITY

Many now realise that we learn at work for many different reasons – not just to acquire a new body of knowledge or a new skill – but to solve performance problems or to improve the work we are currently doing or perhaps even to innovate.  So not all these ways of learning require a course. A course really only has one purpose to take someone through a body of knowledge in a very prescribed way. Yet we know from the way people use Web resources that they tend to dip in and out to find what they need.

Hence, I am seeing much more interest in producing short resources that can be flexible enough to be used for multiple purposes (eg JIT training, performance support, etc) and which suit the needs of different people. I might therefore describe them as personalisable (in as much as they can be customised by the individual concerned). It is clear people don’t want to have to be told how to use a resource – and then tracked that they do so – they just to make use of it how and when they like.

And once these resources have been created, they then become very versatile. Other services can be wrapped around them – e.g. a face-to-face session to create a flipped classroom, or a discussion group to create a social experience, or they can even become part of a learning campaign.

So when we think of the technology to create these resources, they don’t have to be produced using e-learning authoring tools. In fact these tools can constrain your thinking about designing content – since they often employ traditional templates with trivial interactions and quizzes, etc. A much wider range of modern content development tools (both free and commercial) is now being used to create resources in formats like podcasts, videos, etc. Just take a look at the Top Tools for Learning 2018 to see what is in use.

In summary, a simple resource is likely to be far more effective and versatile than a sophisticated e-learning course.

Secondly, PFE (PROUDLY FOUND ELSEWHERE)

This is the opposite of the NIHS (Not Invented Here Syndrome) – which is a belief that organisations hold that internally created solutions are inherently better than external solutions. Today’s L&D teams now realise that they can’t create everything everyone needs to do their current job – let alone all the stuff they need to prepare for the future. So I am seeing that they are becoming much more willing to use content and solutions available externally. Their goal is to find the best solution – and not reinvent the wheel.

But this doesn’t just mean commissioning external solutions, but curating content and opportunities that already exist on the Web for their people to use. It might be collecting a set of resources on a topic, or the daily curation of new web resources, events and activities (to provide a continuous approach to training) – which is particularly useful for those who need to keep up to date with new thinking in their industry or profession.

Curation is about finding the gems on the Web and delivering them in the most appropriate way, and this is a new skill –  but there are now some excellent curation tools and platforms (like Anders Pink) to automatically and intelligently curate relevant resources. These platforms can efficiently support the daily learning habit that everyone needs to build.

Thirdly, INTEGRATION

Organisational training initiatives are now becoming more and more embedded in existing enterprise work-based platforms rather than on stand-alone learning platforms. The main factor driving this trend is that L&D now recognises that people mostly learn in the workflow – as they do their jobs – rather than in a separate activity or on a separate platform.

Hence, L&D are now hosting their resources on their intranet – rather than their LMS – so that their people can find something close to hand. And when they set up learning communities or discussion groups they are doing so on their enterprise social networks (like Yammer) or on their team collaboration platforms (like Slack and MS Teams) – since these are very familiar, and the technology that underpins the real social learning at work. People don’t want to have to use a separate social learning platform.

The beauty of these new collaboration platforms is also that they are highly integratable with other 3rd party platforms like Anders Pink (the curation platform I mentioned above), and other services (like Twitter) which means you can “bring the outside in” – in order to establish modern training as part of the workflow

But more significantly, what this means is that these platforms are becoming a hub for work and learning. It’s no longer just about taking an online courses or classroom training – disconnected from the real world of work. Learning is now being seen in a very different light – as a work activity – and one that is highly performance-focused.

Want to find out more, take a look at Modern Workplace Learning 2019.

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart helps organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops and bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including Modern Workplace Learning 2019 as well as the resource for individuals A Professional's Guide to Modern Learning. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at Jane.Hart@C4LPT.co.uk.