Over the years, the corporate training market has seen remarkable changes. In addition to its expansion, there has also been an emergence of a lot of new learning management technologies, learning experience platforms, content authoring tools, and integrated HR platforms for skill development and performance management. Furthermore, there has also been a consolidation in the market – with a lot of providers having consolidated the platform market. This has resulted in organizations being flooded with options and trying to identify the right platforms and technology that can help meet their goals of reskilling and upskilling their employee base.
Why should L&D teams invest on a long-term strategy to implement a robust technology stack?
A robust technology stack helps in:
- Building capability and competency frameworks with learning strategies that can meet business goals.
- Designing an integrated and inclusive Employee Experience (EX) that consolidates content from available learning platforms and portals within the organization and curates content from external sources without compromising on the learning experience.
- Using technology frameworks to give a seamless, flexible, highly accessible, mobile-first experience while aiding learning in the flow.
- Enabling the use of Immersive Learning technology to create practice zones to help bridge the gap between training and on-the-job performance.
What are the various elements of a learning technology stack that L&D teams should consider in order to build a connected workforce?
Employee Experience Platforms
52% of L&D professionals see an increase in investment in LMS Features to improve End-User Usability – Gartner L&D Technology Innovations Bullseye 2022 Report.
Employee Experience Platforms or EXPs, as the term suggests, can be the answer to the Employee Experience (EX) conundrum. Today, managers and leaders realize that employee experience is a key business driver, and a good one can lead to a better and more productive workforce, thereby driving business success and brand pull. An EXP should be able to integrate with other learning systems like LMS, LXP, talent management systems, workplace productivity tools, and curation platforms.
With significant investments made by organizations on traditional learning management systems and skill development and talent management platforms, it is a hard choice to migrate tons of data to a new system. That’s where an EXP can play a role in forming a layer on top of these systems and provide pathways and journeys for contextual learning and self-development.
This will be a critical focus for all organizations seeking to improve talent management and retention, and worth investing time on for developing an EX strategy.
Personalized Career Pathways
According to a McKinsey survey of more than 1,500 senior executives globally, some 87 percent say that their companies are not adequately prepared to address the skill gap.
The rapidly changing training and skilling needs have outpaced the traditional learning technology roadmap. The current understanding of the employee’s experience is limited to the learner’s experience with systems, tools, and platforms. In the current hybrid model of working, it is important to consider the needs of all cross-functional and cross-geographical teams and develop digital learner personas along with associated learning journey maps and career pathways.
What’s even better is to provide the learner with control over how they want to build these pathways, offering opportunities to personalize the journey with learning channels and modalities that suit them the best.
Immersive Learning Technology
AR/VR is considered, by L&D professionals, as the most practical and immersive approach to teaching learners how to perform actual tasks in a safe environment (eLearning Industry, 2019).
Connecting with distant learners and keeping them engaged throughout the learning journey is a challenge for L&D professionals. The hybrid workplace has created an additional challenge – how to make the best of training from the comfort of the living room or home-office, as opposed to the office desk? By creating immersive virtual learning experiences, trainers can connect with their learners and offer a richer and more holistic approach to delivering Virtual Training, which helps enhance workforce performance.
Various formats come under this category, including next gen virtual training, like Mesh on MS teams, where the learners can learn and connect with virtual instructor avatars from various locations; or Virtual Reality that erases the barriers of the physical world and gives a “real computer generated” experience through a headset; or Virtual worlds, which are online platforms that create a simulated space, allowing employees to interact directly with one another via the use of avatars. Immersive technology will continue to see a steady growth, mainly for Onboarding training and Industry specific skill training like Retail Onboarding and Sales Training, Manufacturing Health and Safety best practices and SOPs, Aviation Industry simulations and so on.
Rapid Mobile-first Delivery
Mobile learning now features among the top three business development priorities for companies and ranks only behind the need for seamless business alignment and improved data mining – Brandon Hall Research
Mobile-first learning provides the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime. The real impact can be felt when it is used to offer learning journeys that include formal training and, notably, resources that help learners exactly at the moment of need (just-in-time, on-the-job support). It is the most effective way for rapid upskilling and delivery of content at scale. They can be updated effortlessly and deployed quickly and can be used to offer both Formal and Informal Learning.
The real question that organizations need to find the most suitable answer to, is which tool to use to author mobile-first learning content and find the right solution provider who can design effective mobile-first content.
As this trend is going to continue to dominate learning delivery, it is critical to have a strategy in place for the effective creation and delivery of mobile-first content.
Technology Enabled Simulations and Practice Zones
In a study published in the British Journal of Medical Practitioners, medical trainees tried to manage complex communication scenarios simulated in role-playing exercises, with professional actors assuming the roles of patients. All participants reported that their skills and confidence have increased, with 100% reporting that they found the exercise useful.
There’s no better teacher than experience. Technology enabled simulations and practice zones can help learners apply business methods and tools in a risk-free environment. Providing expert guidance will equip them to deal with uncertainty in the process of decision-making. Due to the practical relevance, simulations and practice zones can ensure lasting learning success and can be delivered in conjunction with classroom, virtual training, or in a blended mode. The technology used needs to be specifically adapted to the learning goals and the organization’s technology frameworks.
In addition to this, real-time reporting on specific performance metrics helps the learner to course correct and improve performance over time. This can help the organization with insights into the competency levels of employees.
Learning in the Flow of Work (LIFOW)
Workflow learning reflects a focus on continuous learning. With workers, the goal is to get people to learn something, apply it, and then go back to work. By providing tips and tools that help us get better at our jobs, bringing learning into the workflow offers an approach that workers want. – Josh Bersin
Today’s learners are an impatient lot –multitasking and pressed for time. They do not want to log on to an LMS to locate a course that may have the answer to their need or their challenge. With work from home/hybrid workplace being the new normal, they want learning resources to be within their workflow and packaged specifically to help them address their needs.
On-demand learning is outside the core, formal learning is part of the learning journey. It consists of information and contextual objects which employees find, consume, and apply in the flow of work. It improves retention and application and provides employees with what’s needed, when needed. You can leverage on-demand learning to improve learning in the flow of work and step up the application of learning on the job.
Technology Enabled Collaborative Learning
57% of organizations say Informal peer-to-peer collaborative learning is most effective in engaging employees in training – Brandon Hall Group Creating a Learning Strategy for the Future of Work
Peer-to-peer collaborative learning is a close second to on-the-job training when it comes to gaining and enhancing skills. It has been primarily used as a mode of informal learning for effective practice through case studies, role plays and discussions, reinforcing and summarizing key learnings, and performance support through doubt clarification. Although organizations know that it can be a more effective way to drive application and change, they found it hard to implement effective methods of collaborative learning.
In addition to a lack of awareness on how to create an effective peer-based learning strategy as part of the learning ecosystem, leveraging technology to drive collaborative learning has been found lacking. It is hard to blame L&D because of the sheer pace at which the learning landscape and preferences have changed, and so have enterprise learning needs, and the technology used to deliver these learnings. Many LMSs and LXPs have not been able to do justice to the true nature of collaborative learning. To address this, L&D needs to first upskill themselves in modern learner centered approaches like identifying learner personas and determining the most effective way of learning.
Collaborative learning cannot be the same for all training needs. Just having a threaded discussion forum on the learning platform will not be enough. L&D needs to look at the most modern apps which can interface with tools like MS teams and Zoom that provide opportunities for close to real and focused sessions at the right time in a learner’s journey. The next level in this is virtual worlds and the metaverse which is making steady progress in the tech savvy learning organizations to drive collaborative learning.
Performance Data Dashboards
L&D pros in organizations with high performance focus on Data and decision-making as the third most important skill. – Workplace Learning Report LinkedIn Learning
Every aspect of business, be it operations, sales, or marketing, depends heavily on data analytics to drive automation, efficiency, and better customer experience. HR and L&D have lagged mainly on account of multiple platforms being used to perform various aspects of training, talent management, and performance management.
L&D function is now a strategic function in many organizations, and organizations seek meaningful insights from them when it comes to employee efficiency, skill levels, and performance. Questions like “Who are our future leaders?”, “Who are the top performers from each function?”, “Who are the people who can be upskilled on cloud computing?” are being asked by Leadership.
The need for a robust performance management platform, with dashboards that can help provide L&D with actionable insights for building an effective strategy for learning and upskilling, can be critical to an organization. These dashboards should be able to integrate with other existing HR platforms and help drive efficiency in quality and productivity for employees and the organization.
In the fast changing technology environment, organizations need to constantly re-align their learning technology stack to meet the all-round development needs of their employees to help them build a deeply engaged and connected workforce.
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