This feature is part of a series focused exclusively on learning technology. To view other posts in the series, check out the spotlight page.
Thus far 2017 has been an exciting year for corporate learning. Major advancements in learning content delivery across a diverse employee population have occurred just as the learning tech market reached a record-breaking $7 billion.
Even social media platforms are getting on the career development train by adding entire learning portals to their already popular networks. Millennial and generation Z employees are driving the increased use of mobile and on-demand learning, while companies are adding their own learning universities to deal with skill shortages in the job market.
#1 – Interactive and virtual world gaming in corporate learning
As 3-D video systems advanced this year, the technology to create virtual reality found its way into corporate learning. Once reserved for medical and military training, now the average employer can bring virtual reality into the every day. Employees can learn how to operate manufacturing equipment, practice their customer service skills, and experience the challenging situations of their careers in a safe and controlled environment.
Ryan Jenkins reports for Inc. that much of this has to do with companies bringing into market virtual reality viewing devices that work with mobile phones and consumer video gaming systems.
“If the Pokémon Go phenomenon taught us anything, it's that millions of people are ready to embrace some form of augmented or virtual reality,” Jenkins said. Now leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are showcasing the use of VR to enhance employee collaboration and social connectivity.
While the tech is not fully ready for deployment in all industries, the future for VR and augmented reality is bright.
#2 – Employers focus on using technology to support financial wellness education
This year, technology is transforming the way that employees learn to manage their money. Brian Hamilton, president of SmartDollar, told HR Dive that financial wellness education has shifted from an employee problem to one that is being taken more seriously by employers. Why? The number one reason for employee stress happens to be financial woes.
“Broke people don’t leave their broke problems at home,” Hamilton said. Employees are asking for help. 70% are living paycheck to paycheck, 60% cannot cover a $1,000 financial crisis, and nearly all employees are saving less than a third of what they should for retirement because one-quarter of their paychecks are going towards paying down debts.
Financial wellness as a learning initiative is a new angle on the topic, though it has been part of the discussion of holistic wellness for some time. Where such programs may be housed — be it in wellness or learning platforms — may be up for discussion.
#3 – Always-on employee learning, mentoring and coaching systems
Learning technology that provides always-on employee learning, mentoring and coaching support is replacing outdated performance review systems.
"For today’s digital organizations, the new rules call for a learning and development organization that can deliver learning that is always on and always available over a range of mobile platforms,” Josh Bersin says in the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2017 report. Companies are allowing employees to access learning at their own pace, when and where they choose to do so.
Virtual one-on-one coaching and mentoring support between employees and managers has also emerged, such as The Coaching Moments app which allows employees and managers to have meaningful conversations and conduct reviews from the convenience of a mobile app. In the next few years, employees will become more comfortable using on-demand support like this to overcome learning barriers and difficult situations. Directories of mentors in every industry will become available to employees who need added support.
#4 – Social interaction and career development combine for better results
LinkedIn, the world’s largest social network for business professionals, bought Lynda.com and launched a completely new learning platform. LinkedIn Learning is now delivering over 10,000 learning and development courses, with new content added daily. Other social networks, like Facebook, have always been used to some extent to create learning communities.
Asha Pandey, Chief Learning Strategist at EI Design says in her e-book that, “Social Learning is more than a buzz and is increasingly used by forward thinking organizations to foster collaborative learning and more significantly its application on the job.”
She predicts a continued need for training that addresses specific corporate outcomes, and includes social learning as a main component. The reason behind this? People need each other to share ideas, solve problems, and tap into diverse perspectives.
#5 – Artificial Intelligence and machine learning finally become mainstream
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will likely burst onto the scene in the coming year. It’s already in classrooms and there are corporate products like recruitment virtual assistants performing some pretty neat tricks already.
It’s only logical to assume that we will be seeing more of this AI and machine learning in the workplace as companies look for better ways to manage people and data. Employees could soon have their very own virtual assistants to help them perform daily tasks more efficiently.
Thousands of companies are creating learning content that will be delivered to employees using the latest in learning technology. There are also many more employees tapping into readily available open learning platforms available online and via mobile apps. Learning and professional development has become a priority for the modern day employee as a way to remain competitive and competent.