Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in eLearning Industry in May 2016, and has been reproduced here with permission.
Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives and training & development is no exception. It is redefining workforce learning methods and tools, allowing organizations to nurture their talent in the most effective way. Advanced software, technology tools, and innovative methods are being used to enhance training program’s quality, participation and engagement as well as to enable corporate training to be a more personalized experience. Struggling with gaps in talent and skills, organizations are starting to invest more heavily in technologies to predict their training requirements, understand their learners and to create exciting ways to deliver training and learning to their employees.
Let us look at some of the top technology trends taking place in the training and Development Industry:
Mobile Learning: According to e- Marketer, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 207.2 million, with the number of smartphone users worldwide forecast to exceed 2 billion users by the end of 2016. This widespread adoption of mobile phones as well as other mobile devices such as tablets, e-reader, etc. is encouraging organizations to leverage mobile learning technologies for their workforce training. Mobile Learning enables smaller sized courses to learners without restricting them to a fixed time and place, leading to higher absorption and retention rate of knowledge. Mobile learning will soon be the most conventional medium to reach the new workforce, which is more tech-savvy and digitally connected. It’s estimated that the mobile learning industry will grow to over $37 billion by 2020.
Video-Based Training: Video streaming has been around for quite some time, however, the new millennium has seen a sudden upsurge in the online streaming space, with YouTube becoming the second popular search engine after Google. Newer technologies, tools, increased network bandwidth, and widespread access to the internet is enabling organizations to create an affordable and advanced video- based training programs, which can be used not just in online courses but in traditional and blended settings as well. It is growing to be an effective medium for creating bite-sized and engaging learning modules. With the cost of video conferencing being reduced dramatically in recent years, organizations are also embracing this method to reduce their training costs and challenges. Tools such as Google Hangout and Skype are increasingly being used as cost effective video conferencing training tools.
Virtual Environment and Avatars: Virtual learning environments bring the social interaction part of traditional classroom training into the e-learning world. Organizations are using virtual training coach also called avatar, who engages with the learners like a real human being. These are human looking avatars in the form of a cartoon, a 3D character instructing and engaging with learners during the training process. Companies are exploring online virtual platforms such as second life, Minecraft, Unity, etc. for delivering training and are creating similar virtual environments to bring the human touch into their e-learning environment. Companies like IBM, Cisco are already using virtual platforms for meetings, interviews, and employee training. Virtual environment and use of virtual avatars in training is an exciting medium to target the young workforce, where they can create their own avatar, build their own challenges and collaborate with other learners.
HTML 5 and Responsive Design: Mobile learning is allowing learners to take training courses at any time, from any place and hence it is important for organizations to look into aspects such as user experience, content delivery from mobile point of view. HTML5 is the latest version of HTML, which is accessible on all platforms, devices, and browsers. HTML5 is adaptable and faster, providing the ability to design interactive and engaging learning experiences, without leaving the mobile users behind. Offline storage and data management can take place, even when the user is not connected to the Internet. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are also incorporating responsive designs to provide the most suitable content experience based on the screen size and resolution of learner’s device. A responsive LMS modifies the content placement according to the device capabilities, features, and provides a seamless and uniform user experience.
Automation and Adaptive Learning: Content providers and LMS providers are using a vast number of automated solutions to create new courses and learning materials, reducing the cost and development time required in the conventional process. Authoring tools and platforms allow you to find themes, templates and other resources that are needed for eLearning. You can also automatically detect learners’ preferences, requirements and customize their eLearning experience accordingly. These tools can also provide algorithmic solutions to evaluate user’s knowledge and skills individually in an automated process.
Big Data: As more and more learning activities take place digitally, we have more and more data gathered, which can give us hidden insights into our learning process, learner’s behavior, etc. By using external big data analytics tools or the ones, which are built into a variety of LMS, organizations are getting to know about their learners’ usage patterns, behavior, training courses effectiveness. This is enabling them to create a customized and personalized training courses based on facts and insights. LMS’ analytics features also help in managing, tracking and reporting training activities in a scheduled way and doesn’t require human intervention for most parts.