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The future of technology for workplace learning: Right person, right content, right time & right place

This week’s post on the future of technology for workplace learning comes from Learning Consultant Patrick Billingsley who is based in LEO Learning’s Sheffield office.

The future of technology for workplace learning includes personalisation of learning and other trends

I spent most of my time at Learning Technologies 2016 attending the free exhibition seminars. With twelve theatres running a seminar every 45 minutes, my main problem was choosing which one to attend. On reflection, the key trends that were of most interest to me were around integrated workplace learning, personalisation and learning architectures.

Technology has to play a key role in our ability to embed learning into everyday working life

Consider the changes taking place in our use of technologies outside the workplace. We use our smartphones and mobile devices every day to explore information online, we use social networks to crowdsource tips and advice from our peers, we learn from blog posts and we generate content and share knowledge and skills through video websites like YouTube. However, there is a concern around the increasing gap between the use of technologies for learning in the workplace and the daily experiences that people have with technologies outside of work.

Workplace learning is undergoing a major transformation, and it has to adapt to the mobile generation who are looking for a learning environment that matches the way they interact with technology outside of the workplace.

The future of workplace learning is about becoming increasingly personalised and ever more focused

One example of this transformation is personalisation, which has already had a major impact outside the workplace.

There are many examples of websites and apps that are leveraging data to provide personalised experiences. Spotify makes recommendations about other albums you might like based on what you’ve been listening to. Activity trackers like Fitbit offer reminders to ensure you meet your goals. Amazon analyses your previous behaviour and makes recommendations inspired by your shopping trends and bundles products to suggest similar items.

Personalisation has become standard practice to such a degree that people now have an expectation for tailored content across all areas of their lives, including workplace learning.

Creating standalone, disparate learning ‘moments’ is no longer enough

Far too often, people’s only experience with learning technologies at work has been through traditional elearning programmes. People do not want to engage with an ‘instructional elearning course’. They want to engage with technologies that are already working in their personal lives: how-to video tutorials, thought-provoking podcasts, web links, mini games, mobile apps, dramatic scenarios and challenging quizzes, for example.

Delivering the right piece of content at the right time through the right channel is as much an art as it is a science, but who wouldn’t engage with media like this, especially when it is blended intelligently with other activities such as coaching, face-to-face workshops and performance appraisals?

The future isn’t standalone elearning courses. In fact, using my favourite quote from Learning Technologies, the future is already here – we just need to bring it into the workplace.

millennials using a mobile device to take a photograph

For more Learning Technologies reflections, why not read Learning Consultant Kath Fleet’s ebook ‘The Millennial Challenge: Can we make them stay?’. The ebook looks at the characteristics of Millennials and what this means for the workplace, and learning today and in the future.

If you’d like to read Kath’s ebook, ‘The Millennial Challenge: Can we make them stay?’, it’s available to download for free on the Resources page.

Download the ebook