One of the defining characteristics of technology is its ability to disrupt, and learning technology is no different. As 2019 wears on, technology is making its indelible stamp on workplace learning and development, presenting both challenges and solutions.
Trends driving tech adoption
One of the hot topics of the day is the tech disruption happening in the workforce, requiring employers to upskill and reskill workers. The learning and development mindset is re-emerging, especially in the corporate space, but workers want it to be done in a modern way and not just for compliance, Jeremy Auger, chief strategy officer at D2L told HR Dive.
He said he's also seeing a demand for personalization from a generation that has had nearly everything tailored for them from the day they were born, prompting similar demands in workforce training and development.
But nowadays, technology may hinder the growth of the incoming workforce. Employers are concerned about the growing gap in soft skills found in employees fresh out of school, Auger noted. To assist, tech providers are building tools centered around social assessment to help with coaching, feedback and mentorship.
In other words, employers view tech as both part of the problem and part of the solution. What is needed is more agile, personalized and continuous learning — something hard to do in the traditional way, Auger said.
"Everyone is having to reskill themselves, at a micro level because new apps are always coming at you and on a major level where you might have to reskill around a set of skills like data analysis or analytics," Christa Manning, director, HCM innovation at Ultimate Software, told HR Dive.
"Just-in-time learning" remains a key approach, enabled by new technology. In many cases, this involves a quick video walkthrough where a user follows embedded tutorials inside an app that shows how to do something versus providing training on how to do it, Manning explained.
What does implementation look like?
As these trends drive tech adoption, the old compliance model of training — simply checking off the "completed" box — is falling away. Employers are looking for a real return on their investment, Auger said; they expect to see employees emerge with new skill sets.
In practice, perhaps sales needs to improve their pitches, Auger offered as an example. An employee might use a video platform to record his or her pitch, share it with bosses and peers and receive time-stamped feedback. Employers view that kind of social assessment as a great way to provide coaching and feedback, he said.
When looking for a learning solution, it's important that employers find something both modern and personalized, Auger said. Similarly, the ideal solution has shown to already work for others and scale easily, he said.
"Best practices in technology adoption are consistent over time," Manning said. Identify why it's important to the business, she suggested; understand how it's having an impact. Listen for other content types and tools workers want and act on their requests; this creates a cycle of employee curiosity and participation. These are best practices no matter what digital disruption is happening, she said.