Top eLearning Trends of 2019 - Forecasts by Industry Experts
In the beginning of the new year it is a good time to look forward and see what we can expect from corporate learning over the upcoming year. We interviewed industry thought leaders to find out what the rising trends are as well as the most important factors impacting the corporate learning field in 2019.
Technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), will continue to advance and influence business models. Learning in the flow of work as well as the role of continuous learning and self-improvement will become more pronounced in corporate life. More detailed analytics will be involved in corporate learning.
Continue reading to find out more about the elearning trends for 2019 and utilize the elearning expert's predictions in order to plan your corporate learning strategy for the upcoming year.
eLearning Trends for 2019 from Experts:
- Julie Hiipakka - Learning Research Leader at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
- Heather McGowan - Future of Work Strategist
- Reijo Karhinen - Professor of Practice at the University of Eastern Finland
- Lauri Järvilehto - Chairman & Co-Founder at Lightneer Inc.
- Dr. Anne Wagenpfeil - HR Blogger at www.bildungsmanagement.guru
- Dmitry Kudinov - Chief Technology Officer, Valamis
Top eLearning Trends for 2018 from Experts:
- Josh Bersin - Corporate Talent, HR, & Learning Analyst, Founder of Bersin by Deloitte
- Daniel Araya - PhD, Technology Consultant and Advisor
- Dr. Charles Camarda - Sr. Advisor for Engineering Development, NASA Langley Research Center
- Janne Hietala - Chief Commercial Officer, Valamis
- Jerome Hanafi - Manager of the Instructional Design Group at Amadeus Customer Service
- Antti Kuivalainen - Head of Consulting at Valamis
- Andy Lancaster - Head of L&D Content, CIPD
Learning in the flow of work
In the year ahead, learning and development leaders will seize the opportunity to do different things at scale to make learning in the flow of work prevalent.
1. Learning and development leaders will facilitate learning in the flow of work for workers and their organizations
In 2019, learning and development leaders will focus on enabling the systems and processes to help workers perform.
Using the principles and elements of design thinking, they will gain a deeper understanding of workers by observing and talking with them to better appreciate the complexity and mix of tasks that workers face.
Through this process, learning and development leaders will then partner more effectively with business leaders to identify — and remove — the obstacles to performance.
Then, learning and development leaders will be better able to document the employee and worker experience through the development of personas and journey maps, which will aid in the ability to offer potential solutions that more directly speak to the issues at hand.
2. learning and development will shift to using performance data instead of learning metrics
For years, many learning and development leaders have focused on building training and measuring the activity levels associated with it – the time spent training and the amount of content completed.
Learning hours and course completions do not give the whole picture of what learning is.
Therefore, it will be more commonplace for organizations to share quantitative and qualitative performance data in real time. For instance, organizations can collect and share peer feedback in real time, or salespeople using an app on a mobile device can see where they are against their sales goal during the last hour of their shift.
This helps workers understand how they’re performing and then adjust in real time to meet goals or better collaborate.
3. Organizations will recognize, leverage, and celebrate the learning happening organically to make it more prominent
Bersin has been studying how organizations are evolving to bring learning and work together; sharing those studies is a focus of its research in 2019.
However, organizations can expect that learning and development leaders will support their organizations in highlighting how learning is happening in the flow of work to the whole enterprise.
Application program interfaces (API) and learning record stores, for example, capture evidence of that learning and make it visible to individuals and their organizations as a learning activity.
Learning and development leaders will also champion the rituals inside their organizations that celebrate natural learning — talking about learning from mistakes and rewarding measured risk-taking and experimentation.
Why now, more than ever, is it important for corporations to invest in learning and development?
With the speed of change these days, adaptability is key to individual and collective success especially as it relates to the new social enterprise.
In Bersin’s 2017 High Impact Learning Organization research, it was found that the strongest business outcomes were realized inside organizations where employee development is embedded in the work itself, so workers are doing new things, experimenting, and accessing the guidance that they need to succeed.
When everyone is responsible for developing themselves and helping others develop, this allows the entire organization to continuously evolve and adapt to its environment.
The future of work is learning
The corporate learning field needs to evolve from skills and knowledge downloaded into a set session to learning as part of work.heathermcgowan
Learning takes place every day at work. Learning is what happens when you find a workaround and when you tackle the exception to the process.
If you consider that an algorithm may better achieve all the routine cognitive work, what is left is the non-routine work for which you must find the exceptions — in other words, learning.
If all the work becomes learning, then the learning and development folks move from the people down the hall who train in skill sets to coaches embedded in the process assisting with on-demand learning and learning capture.
Furthermore, we have to move from fixed jobs to thinking like Reid Hoffman’s concept of "Tours of Duty". In this process, the individual worker continuously scans for skills that they can hand off to automation, new skills and knowledge that they can acquire, and emerging technologies that can extend their human potential. Collectively, this process should be a continuous assessment to identify and prepare for the next role.
The ability to learn new things will become the most important working skill in the future
1. In 2019, companies that are visionary and responsible when it comes to the renewal of their personnel’s competence capital will start to stand out even more and form a group of their own.
Companies that are yet to perceive the transformation of work or that still rely on the belief that the employer doesn’t play a role in the challenges of their employees’ lifelong learning will be left behind.
Pioneer companies see the situation as more of an opportunity than as a threat that cannot be beaten. Pioneer companies don’t publicly complain about the lack of a skilled workforce. They understand that they are the ones who haven’t figured something out early enough. Because corporate management should have been the first to see the need to change competence capital and take initiative in fixing the situation already years ago.
The management of pioneer companies standing out among the masses doesn’t complain and blame the education system for lagging behind. They rather encourage their employees, perceive and openly communicate the future direction of the business and the competence required in the future. These companies take deliberate steps in constructing their employer image. They see their opportunities to stand out in a positive and future-proof manner. You can recognize these companies by looking at the corporate management’s agenda.
If the renewal of employees’ competence has been defined as one of the most important core processes, you are looking at a pioneer company.ReijoKarhinen
At the same time, the roles of business operations and HR within the company are being transformed. Business operations, strongly aided by strategic planning, will take a greater responsibility for what kind of competence will be required in the future. The HR operations will integrate and become a closer unit within business operations.
2. The new roles of an individual, employer and society as well as the mutual sharing of responsibilities will become clearer in competence renewal, one step at a time.
In 2019, it is becoming increasingly clear that the transformation of work is part of the fourth Industrial Revolution brought on by new technology. This means it’s a strong outside force challenging all the previous rules and distribution of work.
We will start to speak more openly and plainly about an individual’s role in competence renewal, but also the employer’s increasing responsibility in it. In addition, the role of the society will change. It will be understood and accepted on a wider scale that society will no longer be primarily responsible for the competence renewal of individuals who already have completed a degree. A new, clearer dialogue with richer content and practical cooperation will arise between businesses and companies alongside degree programs.
Pioneer companies highly value employees who want to take initiative and learn new things.ReijoKarhinen
The companies are ready to support them at the right time and also to provide financial support. The ability to learn new things will be an individual’s single most important working life skill in the future. Companies who know how to identify these kinds of employees and create an atmosphere that encourages taking initiative will be the winners and success stories of their industries.
3. The year 2019 will mark a clear move toward making competence renewal part of our everyday life.
We will start to understand better that lifelong learning isn’t dependent on tools or channels.
Instead of one-off training periods or events or other similar actions, we will talk about continuous learning as a paradigm shift, a change in operating models and, finally, as a significant cultural change.ReijoKarhinen
Learning will become even more of a key topic as will making use of learning in work, instead of how a training has been produced or the competence gained. Instead of a cycle of continuing education periods, we will grasp that everyday work can, and actually should, offer an opportunity for learning new things.
In this age of social media, competence grows stronger by sharing. An employee who is open to new things can find a plethora of alternatives in their everyday life, increasing their value on the job market. Your salary will not be the only important point: what kinds of new things you can learn on the job will become increasingly important.
As a result, we have to learn how to learn and to understand that learning new things doesn’t require booking a separate training period in your calendar, as much as we still will need them in the future. When competence renewal becomes part of employees’ everyday life and integrates more into their career planning, it also requires a clear development in companies’ management competence. I believe that from this perspective, too, the new year will be a turn for the better.
1. The role of continuous learning and self-improvement will become more pronounced in corporate life
As businesses struggle to keep up with the changes in their key markets, they will need to invest in updating the competence of their employees.laurijarvilehto
This is a direct consequence of the constantly accelerating pace of change in global markets.
2. One of the topics that will be critical to learn, especially for corporate leaders, is to understand programming and machine learning from a first-hand perspective
It will be very hard, if not impossible, to manage a complex technology project without at least a rudimentary understanding of the technologies involved, even if there was a competent technology director and project manager involved.
Much of the tech industry right now is suffering from inflated or even unrealistic expectations for technology projects.
For a leader to be able to make educated decisions and understand what goes under the hood is important.
3. Distributing continuous learning goals to a variety of formal and informal learning tools can help organizations thrive
In addition to learning from courses and workshops, MOOCs and other online and mobile resources can also significantly improve an organization's capacity to update and improve the competence of its workforce.
Why is it important now more than ever before for corporations to invest in learning and development?
No business is safe from potential and even sudden changes in their key markets.laurijarvilehto
A market disruption can lead to a very quickly escalating situation where key strategic processes will be unable to provide value to the shifted market.
Being able to quickly update the knowledge and competence in the organization will help redesign processes and strategy to service the changed market, or perhaps even create new market opportunities.
3 tips to keep in mind when revamping the learning strategies for 2019:
- Make sure your organization has efficient learning and competence updating processes and opportunities in place.
- Focus on both formal and non-formal methods. Explore self-organized learning.
- Educate especially the leadership in machine learning, programming, and technology fundamentals.
1. How will AR and VR impact workplace training?
At the moment, it will not have any noticeable effect at all, because the HR departments are not yet inquiring about the topic on a larger scale.
Applications from the technology sector will probably be the first to benefit because technical processes can be visualized very well with these techniques. In addition, actions and (mis) behavior can be simulated which would have expensive, catastrophic or even fatal consequences in real life.
Soft skills will certainly be taught in classroom trainings for a long time to come because these trainings depend very much on the person and personality of the trainer and real human interaction is a decisive success criterion in the learning process. To meet virtually is just not an everyday process. Trying out the already „vulnerable“ learning process for the first time is certainly a special challenge for some learners.
Actions and behavior can be simulated which would have expensive, catastrophic or even fatal consequences in real life.annewagenpfeil
2. What are some of the consequences of implementing AR and VR?
The potential of AR and VR is huge. It already starts with the fact that in the future we may not even have to go away to learn and do not have to sit at the PC, but rather dive into a completely different learning world with glasses or another device (who knows what will come next) in a dedicated special room in the company.
In the next step, we will get the content presented in a completely different way. Instead of texts and slides, we will deal more with moving images and three-dimensional films. Our avatar, who moves in these worlds, may become our perfect reflection, which we dress and style with the same care. Maybe he'll look like us. Maybe not. Maybe he's not human at all. Maybe our coach is portrayed as a cartoon character or an animal. And perhaps we have never seen our Learning Buddy, with whom we have been intensively learning and training together for two years, in real life.
Or we look into the real world and are shown a multitude of other levels and information, which significantly broaden our understanding and our horizon.
Of course, the world is also moving closer together in a different way. Because it is even less important where we are than it is today. For learning service providers, this could of course become highly interesting, because the whole world would then become a potential customer.
This technology also becomes attractive for the training departments of international companies because it makes it possible to reach all employees worldwide with the same format. More educational justice, so to speak. At least at the company level.
VR technology makes it possible to reach all employees worldwide with the same format. More educational justice, so to speak.annewagenpfeil
3. Will VR/AR inspire collaboration, communication, and engagement in the workplace? Or diminish it?
International cooperation is certainly more likely to be supported and intensified. VR/AR offers a strong form of interaction that we don't have on the phone or only via Skype, despite the spatial distance, and despite technical aids. As a matter of fact, we are three-dimensional beings and strongly influenced by our visual and spatial impression of the other and his behavior, even if this spatial impression is artificially created.
Maybe we don't even have to go to the company anymore. If physical presence becomes secondary, perhaps we can also enter the virtual world from home.
However, it is to be expected that the importance of the written word will decrease. I believe that direct interaction with others will increase again. Simply because it's fun, quick and we get a direct answer. Maybe we will have one virtual „call“ after the other, develop documents and content with our counterparts in the learning world and send feedback as animated short videos instead of via email as we do today.
Our children are already doing this today: they send and post voice messages, pictures, animated pictures, and videos much more frequently than just text messages.
4. What are some of the obstacles in implementing AR and VR?
In my opinion, it will still take some time before VR or AR will be used across the board, both in continuing education and in day-to-day work, even in really suitable applications. This is linked to the „maturity“ of the offers available on the market.
Only if the necessary tools such as VR glasses and the associated content production can be purchased in a reasonably resource-efficient manner, a sufficient number of human resources departments and education managers will decide to acquire the technology and use it for in-company training and further education. And therefore establishing a trend that will carry away others along with it. We're a long way from that. The interest in this development is certain to be seen, but currently, I see rather a wait-and-see-approach in the market on how the technology develops.
Our children are already doing this today: they send and post voice messages, pictures, animated pictures, and videos much more frequently than just text messages.annewagenpfeil
1. The year 2018 was about “all things AI” with a lot of hype around AI and Machine Learning
Analysts are talking about AI and the benefits it could bring, and vendors are talking about AI built into their offerings.
At the same time, real practical examples of AI solving real problems that corporate learning is facing nowadays are rare and not of a great scale yet.
During 2019, I expect to see some disillusion in this area among customers, and at the same time, there will be a growing number of real applications where AI will play an important role in delivering practical benefits.d_kudinov
These examples will be for sure highly industry-, of even company-specific, as a current state of AI is not allowed for broader “generic” solutions, mostly because of the amount of quality data that it needs for training as well specifics of models, which needs to reflect processes in organizations to become useful.
2. Another trend, which is also related to AI, is that current L&D tools will bring more AI-based solutions into their offering
First it comes as a must, as every vendor is trying to catch up with competition and at least in marketing to promote its capabilities of AI usage, but there will be many vendors which will go further than just to say that they have AI to the real application of AI for things like automated learning content tagging, personalized content recommendations, and personal assistants.
3. I expect to see the growth of analytical skills among L&D professionals as well as more analytics involved in corporate learning
Over the last couple of years, Big Data was a big trend and now L&D departments are catching up and filling analytical skills gaps in their own teams to get practical benefits from more and more data being available as a part of a learning process in organizations.
Moreover, vendors are responding to the trend and providing more data from the learning process as well as including more xAPI based solutions, which allows for more diverse data about learning being collected.
Why is it important now more than ever before for corporations to invest in learning and development?
I would disagree with the statement that it is even more important now than in the past. It was always the case that investing in your personnel’s growth, learning, and development positively affects the company’s overall performance and stability. The best-performing companies are constantly carrying out such investments in different forms.
Right now, it is just becoming more obvious that without such investment a company will go out of business pretty soon, as growing complexity and faster changes require much more flexibility and adaptation from the employees of the company, which is impossible to achieve without learning happening on a constant basis.
Growing complexity and faster changes require much more flexibility and adaptation from the employees of the company, which is impossible to achieve without learning happening on a constant basis.d_kudinov
Check out Dmitry Kudinov's predictions for last year (2018)
Technology, supported by data, connects learning to organizational objectives
- Organizational learning will be a part of company strategy
- The role of learning analytics will be amplified
- Advancing learning with technology (AI/AR)
The future of learning has become centered on how learning efforts translate into real business results. The only way to measure this is with real data, analyzed and tracked by technology. "Organizational learning as part of company strategy will become a norm, as more leaders accept that changes and disruptions to their business are unavoidable and the way to deal with them is related to continuing education and retraining of personnel," says Dmitry Kudinov, Chief Technology Officer at Valamis.
Kudinov warns, "In companies where the HR department is solely responsible for training that is loosely coupled with the goals of a company, gaps between strategy and execution will become evident." He adds, "Such companies will become more vulnerable to market disruption because of technology changes as well as new competitors, who will be capable of using technological advances."
Learning analytics play a vital role in how well learning initiatives correspond with outcomes, and must be a continual effort.
As organizational learning becomes a part of company strategy, the need for its measurement will be raised..
From the executives to individual employees, understanding the positive impact that learning has on the organization and desired behavioral outcomes can be optimized.
This new breed of learning technology must advance, with the most promising being Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), which adds another dimension to corporate learning. Kudinov shares his insight:
If AI is linked to analytics, personalized learning could be then linked to organizational goals, making learning the most effective for strategy goals to be achieved.
It's not surprising then that Kudinov believes investing in learning technology should be part of an overall strategy, complete with well-defined goals.
Companies have their missions and strategies, but all need to see that the world we are in is constantly changing. Adaptation is only possible through learning.
Top eLearning Trends for 2018: How Will Organizational Learning Evolve?
The world in which we live and work is rapidly transforming due to technological advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), human augmentation systems (HAS), and responsive applications, which help people achieve their goals and leave more time for creativity and innovation.
This technology will continue to influence the design and use of eLearning in the workplace in years to come. Smart eLearning management systems that respond to human input will become commonplace. Digital learning content will be supported by chatbots and directed by automation based on user preferences. Social learning will continue to drive participation in communities and will have a pivotal role in enhancing learning through feedback systems. There will be more choices than ever before for how, where, and when employees access learning materials.
What can we expect from organizational learning in 2018? To find out more, we interviewed the leading minds in the fields of learning and development and business development. We asked each expert to identify the most important factors impacting learning and design, as well as why learning has become fundamental for organizational success. A few trends rose above the others:
- Learning strategy must be aligned with business strategy
- Measuring learning will become crucial
- Personalized learning will connect the organizational objectives
- Employees need a constant flow of information so that they can keep up with new fields.
Read further to find out more organizational learning trends and why these four are the ones crucial to take in consideration when it comes to any organization.
Check out Josh Bersin's predictions for last year (2018)
Learning cultures, leadership and digital compliance at the forefront of organizations
- Professional development aligned with other goals;
- Organizational transformation is digital, but it’s not about going out and getting digital;
- Stay compliant - the GDPR updates taking place in the EU currently.
In 2018, we will continue to see organizations putting modern professional development ahead or at least in line with other goals.
All employees are part of the success of the organization and this means every person needs skills that will lead to future leadership capability. At the same time, the entire business world is being disrupted by new technology and a shifting workforce.
During a February 2018 presentation, Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, shared his insight in regards to the top eLearning trends impacting organizations this year, including the critical areas where the workforce is being impacted. He outlined a ‘culture of leadership’ that requires all management teams to focus on empowerment of both the individual and teams. In an environment of full transparency, employees are in the driver’s seat and they know more about their organization than previous generations. Employees must see themselves as part of the success of the companies they work for.
Employees must see themselves as part of the success of the companies they work for.Josh_Bersin
Additionally, Bersin mentioned that there will be a major restructuring of organizations and that some of this will happen without human resource involvement. Case in point - the introduction of automation into standard HR and recruitment practices. Bersin says, “Organizational transformation is digital, but it’s not about going out and getting digital”.
The digital age is already upon us so it’s time to either embrace it or get out of the way.Josh_Bersin
Bersin also advised that all organizations need to be mindful of the GDPR updates taking place in the EU currently. This impacts organizations conducting international business or with employees working overseas. “Being compliant with the GDPR rules by May of 2018 includes understanding how employee data is used and who actually owns it”, he says.
Check out Daniel Araya's predictions for last year (2018)
Automation maintains pace with artificial intelligence in corporate learning
- Learning in today’s work environment requires ongoing adaptive learning systems;
- Executives and decision-makers will need to incorporate advanced AI-driven learning systems in order to adapt to a nascent machine age.
In 2018, the eLearning market has already seen an increase in the number of automated tools which harness artificial intelligence to essentially “drive” content delivery to learners. This is especially helpful given the on-demand needs of most learners today who are accustomed to finding information on-the-go using mobile devices.
To gain further insight into the realms of automation and AI in corporate learning, we spoke with a leading mind in this area, Daniel Araya, PhD, who is a technology consultant and advisor to government with a special interest in technological innovation, public policy, and learning. He is a Sharing Cities Policy Fellow and a regular contributor to various media outlets including Futurism, The Brookings Institution, Singularity Hub, and Medium. His newest books include: Augmented Intelligence (2018), and Smart Cities as Democratic Ecologies (2015). He has a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is an alumnus of Singularity University’s graduate program in Silicon Valley.
Dr. Araya told us automation is a natural progression for most industries. He said, “Given the capacity of technology to automate labor, it stands to reason that developing the right set of learning technologies has become critical to the future prosperity of knowledge-based organizations. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are now the basis for a wide range of mainstream applications including web search, medical diagnosis, and smart phone software.”
How did all this get started? It’s time for a little history lesson:
Dr. Araya shared, “Since its inception some sixty years ago, AI has evolved from an arcane academic field into a powerful driver of social and economic change. Deep learning, for example, has dramatically improved pattern recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing.” He added, “This technological revolution has significant implications for how knowledge-based organizations learn and develop today.”
In terms of the corporate learning market, there are some things to consider before implementing AI to automate systems. Dr. Araya told us, “Learning in today’s work environment requires ongoing adaptive learning systems. And this means employing AI to stay ahead of automation. In fact, organizational learning is already becoming foundational to managing waves of automation.” But can AI and learning automation keep pace in the coming years?
Ironically enough, Dr. Araya shared that organizations with knowledge embedded in and through technology are more resistant to accelerating technological change. “For this reason”, he says, “executives and decision-makers will need to incorporate advanced AI-driven learning systems in order to adapt to a nascent machine age.”
Where are we headed next? Is this the “Rise of the Machines”? Dr. Araya partly agrees. He said, “As Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2014) suggest, we are moving into a “Second Machine Age” in which advanced technologies have begun a systemic transformation of routine labor across multiple industries. The truth is that fully automated systems are a very real destination for some enterprises.”
Something to think about: According to research by Gartner, one-third of all jobs will be converted into software, robots, and smart machines by as early as 2025. That’s only a few years away! Dr. Araya warns, “As AI continues to expand and evolve, knowledge-based organizations will need to adapt by employing advanced organizational learning technologies to stay ahead of the automation curve.”
Check out Dr. Charles Camarda's predictions for last year (2018)
Accessible Learning is Happening in the Digital World
- Learning needs to be more personalized and student-centric;
- Employees need a constant flow of information so that they can keep up with new fields;
- Learning content needs to be developed quickly so that employees have access to emerging fields.
The entire learning market is evolving in order to maintain costs, yet the challenge exists in making all learning accessible. Dr. Charles Camarda, NASA astronaut and Sr. Advisor for Engineering Development at NASA Langley Research Center says, “The digital transformation of how we deliver learning is happening online. Not only does this address the way that learners prefer to access information, but it addresses the very real challenges that our system has with keeping costs down.” Camarda mentioned how the cost of corporate education is growing four times the rate of national inflation, which makes it non-sustainable. Things like traveling to conferences or bringing in trainers can add up. This needs to change and digitization is the solution.
Businesses can emulate the way that American colleges are managing adult learner programs. Micro-learning has become the preferred way to deliver learning content so that the information can be immediately applied to the workplace. At the same time, Camarda told us, “Learning needs to be more personalized and student-centric. As we gain more knowledge about how employees learn, we have the ability to tailor learning experiences to suit individual needs.” Technology delivers the biggest impact.
Another elearning trend that’s growing is the need for a constant flow of information so that employees can keep up with new fields. Younger employees respond well to on-demand learning.
The products that we see that are being developed and the ability to manipulate the data that's needed to determine learning patterns, we can better understand how to focus and personalize learning so it has more of an impact.
Why should companies invest in this learning technology? Camarda says we can drive the costs of education down and scale it effectively to reach all employees around the world. New fields are rising quickly (for example data science) so as new skills are needed, we have to be able to create the learning content that reaches all employees.
Learning content needs to be developed quickly so that employees have access to emerging fields.
Learning impacts the business strategy best when new concepts are delivered online, so that all employees are trained simultaneously.
The way we train can be different, but this should be assessed so that we know employees are applying new knowledge to their jobs.
Check out Janne Hietala's predictions for last year (2018)
Making Improved Decisions and Business Impact with Big Data
- Gathering the data and starting to look at the data, while applying different research is going to be the main thing for 2018.
- Knowledge management, information management, learning and performance start to merge in the leading organizations globally.
- Organizations will be moving learning from being a support function to becoming aligned with the core of the business.
An emerging area of corporate learning that will take center stage in 2018 is that of big data in making improved business decisions. Often relegated to a human resource function, data analytics can help organizations track progress of learners and how it affects employee performance. But, there are so many other uses for big data in the area of learning that organizations can tap into.
We made time to sit down for a talk with Janne Hietala, who is the Chief Commercial Officer for Valamis. He shared some best practices for how data can and should be used. Hietala said, “there is a movement of learning design that is directly related to the learner experience that also impacts business outcomes. So, I think gathering the data and starting to look at the data, while applying different research is going to be the main thing for 2018.”
There’s already been more pressure to understand the impact of corporate learning. While the learning organization is creating this relationship with the business side, they are looking to understand the business better. Hietala told us, “the data is really the key to direct the process better and impact that. Learning analytics will be a few years ahead, but it's more the combination of data science and predictive analytics that come from the learning and development side we can be looking at.”
The Limitations of Learning Data
Right now, Hietala advises that any data produced by learning activities is very much limited to behavioral data. He says, “The big picture is how users behave with learning content, and how they learn, and what kind of impact that's making on their performance in business. It also comes down to how do you boost the right skills of the right people and change the way individuals work in the most efficient way possible? It needs to connect the two points: the method of learning and how it will deliver the impact to the organization.”
The big picture is how users behave with learning content, and how they learn, and what kind of impact that's making on their performance in business.janne_hietala
Hietala predicts, “What we’ve seen from the leading organizations globally is knowledge management, information management, learning and performance start to merge. These areas are increasingly overlapping.” This is seen where cognitive search capabilities are being introduced. Then there's the realization that there are silos of people in the workforce accessing information whether they get recommendations to the information through the community search. This overlaps with micro-learning in the organization.
Hietala warns, “Chief Learning Officers and Chief Knowledge Officers need to start to work together and think about working with HR they can start putting together a bigger picture about how technologies are changing and how the organization can support individuals.” He said this comes from an understanding of how learners find information efficiently, how they solve problems more efficiently, and how cognitive technologies like IBM Watson can be leveraged.
One solution is the use of chatbots, which can be made available to employees to try to recommend the right kinds of learning content. Hietala told us, “The functionalities are blending which puts pressure on learning management systems to have a greater integration capability. This includes both internal and external sources of information, so it's no longer just about information inside the organization, but it’s about how people access and learn from different kinds of learning sources found on the internet.”
The challenge is to curate all content, from whatever source it originates. There is a lot that companies can do to improve learning content, but it always needs to have the human in the process.janne_hietala
HR Shares the Responsibility of Learning with Operations
The question of who should be responsible for driving learning initiatives often comes up. “Traditionally it's been HR,” says Hietala, “but we’ve seen more organizations moving from learning being a support function to becoming aligned with the core of the business. New learning systems are being driven by operations. For example, from the financial side of things, whether it’s leadership, safety, and things like that. It’s becoming a blended approach, although it's not quite there yet.”
On the good side, management teams and the CTO are working together with CHROs and CLOs. Hietala mentions, “I would say that the learning side of the organization is responsible for delivering the learning in a strategic way. But they need to make sure that it’s aligned with the business outcomes and strategy --- these requirements come from the business side.”
“But the business side needs to understand also what kind of impact learning can make and what kind of investments can be made in learning programs. What can be done with digital learning, simulation, and what are the learning economics calculations to be made to support the right decisions to be made for the business. It's incorrect to think just in terms of cost. When you increase the production value of of a digital learning program, most of the time you will also capture more of the benefit that the learning produces in terms of business output. This is the responsibility of the CFO,” Hietala advises us.
It’s Mission Critical to Invest in Learning and Development
Why should organizations be focused on investing more in L&D for their workforce? There are two key drivers. One is the combination of knowledge management and performance support. The other is that the amount of information available for employees and that it’s increasing exponentially. This means it takes more time to access all the information and define the right information. It’s essentially an information searching problem that can have a negative impact on the performance.
We have to create information, and at the same pace, learn how to improve how we can provide access to the right information at just the right time.janne_hietala
If we want to maintain productivity, Hietala shares, “In the information age, we have to create information, and at the same pace, learn how to improve how we can provide access to the right information at just the right time. That’s where micro-learning and AI can help, using the learning experience and chatbots to improve the performance at the same time.
From another perspective, there’s always the issue of workforce transformation. Hietala highlights that organizations are always working on huge amounts of information and that's having an effect on finances and professional services, where people are knowledge workers. A lot of jobs are getting alternated and even though there’s a positive forecast due to automation and AI, it’s not the same people essentially in those roles.
Hietala says, “Some people will be getting fired from their organizations, some are getting hired -- there’s an overheating job market in data science already. That’s just going to worsen the situation because there’s more demand than people. Basically, it’s an economic question.”
A final thought from Hietala,”It’s more sensible to develop retraining programs to move people into new roles where the jobs are getting alternated and there is a demand for new kinds of skills. It’s a matter of comparing the cost of firing and hiring to cost of retraining. Then it’s up to leadership to determine what is the right size investment to capture as many people to do the retraining in order to transfer the knowledge.”
Check out Jerome Hanafi's predictions for last year (2018)
Relevant training is the key
- Learning materials need to be delivered to the right people, whenever and wherever they need it;
- Modular approach to learning: bite-sized pieces of information will continue to be the best way to introduce learning concepts;
- Empowering employees within a learning culture is what leads to long-term retention and performance.
As part of this renewed focus in eLearning on the individual in eLearning, technology will support the on-demand needs of learners and instructors. Jerome Hanafi, Manager of the Instructional Design Group at Amadeus Customer Service advises organizations, "to have learning or support material when and where it's needed."
More and more people don't want to spend five days attending a generic classroom training. They'd rather have contextual learning support because they want to know the exact information when they need it -- much like using a search application.
Hanafi says that bite-sized pieces of information will continue to be the best way to introduce learning concepts; what he refers to as the ‘modular approach'. This seems to be the preference among today's learner.
This content comes from a variety of sources, from short "how to" videos to live sessions. This is a very flexible method, enabled by responsive technology that branches out and directs learners to related information.
Learning platforms that automate content to users, based on their learning style and interest are becoming more prevalent. However, this needs to be relevant to the learning materials. Hanafi shared, "Once the learning system knows a user's preferences, the system needs to provide relevant information and relevant learning."
Bite-sized pieces of information will continue to be the best way to introduce learning concepts.
He explains, "eLearning integrated in a blended learning course is becoming more and more like synchronous learning where the individual feels like he or she is part of a group, led by a facilitator.
You can watch some materials on elearning and then at some point you have a meeting with this facilitator. You can have group exercises where the facilitator can ask you to revise what you have learned. When people need to work together to complete a task, time and space boundaries are being blown away more and more."
Even with responsive technology leading the way, learning remains a very human activity. Hanafi shares, "It's not only individual learning, it's more and more group learning. A group can belong to the same company or it can belong to other companies. And because of social networking and mobile devices, with a bit of gamification, you can make online courses very interesting and more human than they've ever been before."
Even if you think of artificial intelligence, the human workforce is still the best machine ever invented.
The increasing globalization of the workforce combined with generational trends mean that companies should be looking to the future now in terms of training needs. Hanafi says, "Talent can come from everywhere, can go everywhere, and investing and empowering employees is crucial. People come and go -- we see this a lot with millennials. They don't expect to spend more than a few years at the same company." The solution is to "invest in accurate training, but also really adapting and answering the questions that employees have."
Empowering employees within a learning culture is what leads to long-term retention and performance.
He says, "If you invest in human talent if you do it properly, they will evolve. They will grow and then that's where you get a return on investment. This is clearly this something that can be accomplished through training and development."
Check out Antti Kuivalainen's predictions for last year (2018)
Micro-learning and rewards based on individual learner needs prevail in 2018
- Focus should be in the unique learning needs of the employees
- Organisations recognizes competences over the titles
- Microlearning will grow rapidly
The year ahead appears to be even more focused on the unique learning needs of employees. Learners are increasingly motivated by rewards based systems, such as badges, as proof of their efforts. Micro-learning looks to be a continuing trend, with short learning modules delivered on-demand to learners.
the demand for quick and targeted bursts of information (a.k.a microlearning) will grow rapidly. This is simply due to the fact that there is a larger share of employees who are familiar with searching for information online.Valamis
It's common for employees to require information for their work assignments, and so they are used to consuming this information in small bursts.
The way jobs are designed is changing too. Nowadays titles don't tell much about the work profile or competence of the employee. Learning badges make more sense -- an idea that comes from the gaming world.
This will transform organizational learning as it allows employees to prove their talent/competence levels, at the same time it allows employers to compare talent and plan their career development.
How is this accomplished? Providing learning content for each learner's own learning style will become essential. This means identifying the suitable content and method of learning, based on creating specific learning paths.
It's critical for organizations to invest in eLearning for a number of reasons, including the decreasing need for traditional manual tasks due to automation and robotization in the workplace.
When there are less human resources required for simple tasks, those companies who can build up the specialized skills of their workforce will have a competitive edge against others.Valamis
Check out Andy Lancaster's predictions for last year (2018)
Learning is to be delivered within the flow of work
In 2018, there are three primary trends in organizational learning, according to Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning and Development Content at CIPD. This includes aligning learning with corporate objectives, the digital interflow of work, and how learning and performance data are managed. These trends reflect the increased use of human capital technology.
Companies will be increasingly concerned about how well their learning platforms and methods are producing results in terms of employee skills development, productivity, efficiency, and performance.AndyLancasterUK
In the coming year, there are some very practical things that organizations should be focusing on.
- We really need to know where the business stands and what the learning needs are – including key performance indicators.
- Learning needs to be delivered within the flow of work itself. This requires methods that enable employees to learn as they work, not interventional types of learning that take employees out of their natural work habits. Organizations should become more agile in their overall approach to learning.
- Organizational leaders need to consider is how to become more comfortable handling large amounts of data. This can shed light on how well the organization is doing in terms of meeting organizational objectives.
Learning technology already supports all of these goals, provided decision-makers place priority on a well-trained workforce.