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9 Reasons to Use More Technologies in Learning and Development

Neil Glenister

February 10, 2021

There are so many reasons why you should be incorporating learning tech into your learning and development strategy. Here are our top 9.

Technology is Transforming Learning

Learning technologies are a whole new world of digital learning and emotional engagement. Whatever the company, from private to public, non-profit to corporate, SMEs to mega conglomerates, the majority of companies have people, and people need development. Upskilling is the major trend that’s the backbone to successful  leaders, ideas, and companies. Forget MOOCs (Multi Open Online Courses) and snazzy presentations, technology is serving up a world of new opportunities. Think serious learning games, learning management systems, and virtual reality learning experiences.

Technology Enables and Encourages Personalised Learning

No matter how many employees you have in the same role, or with the same requirements in their role, each individual will have a different set of strengths and learning styles.  There is little point in treating Jess and Janice the same when one learns by doing and the other learns by reading, rewriting, and applying the same knowledge. Now multiply this personalisation need by however many employees you have and here lies one the largest problems with learning and development (L&D) strategies: they tend to treat everyone the same. 

Technology offers a viable solution. Learning management systems record individual performance and can be connected to a host of tools and resources, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace and in their own style. Authoring tools create learning environments, such as gamified content or serious learning games which are excellent for personalised learning experiences. Learning games are designed and developed to cover any topic required. Most are easy to use, both in terms of creating the actual game content and measuring learning outcomes.

Technology Supports Increased Learning Through Flexible Learning

Technology is wonderfully flexible.  Assume that your goal is to train 600 staff on the latest HR policy surrounding working from home rules and requirements. Forget in-person meetings or staff announcements, which are no longer possible under current Covid restrictions. What about a virtual broadcast? The majority of viewers won’t be engaged, won’t have their cameras switched on, and won’t be learning or retaining information. Cue the many questions that bosses have to deal with and the time wasted on finding the right member of HR to answer those. How about a game? A learning environment whereby anyone of those 600 staff can log-on in the next working week and within 60 minutes, have played a serious learning game in which they learn the company’s new working from home policy. All the information is in the game. If learners get something wrong, they simply try that part of the game again.  Streamlining learning for 600 members of staff through a learning game allows the HR team to ensure all information has been covered and understood. It also means that if the HR team can see that a lot of people encounter difficulty in a section, perhaps they need to review that area and make the policy clearer. 

Technology streamlines processes, cuts out the noise, and provides information in digestible chunks, in formats that employees can actually remember and use. The time and money saved on using such a program can free up resources for the HR team to cover very important aspects of working from home like how to support those whose health is affected by Covid and how to support individuals who have to return to the workplace to continue their jobs.

Technology Makes Learning Fun

Before you cringe or dismiss this as utter pseudo-nonsense, this aspect of technology is crucial to learning. If you can’t spark a genuine interest, capture and keep your audience engaged, or trigger some degree of curiosity, your training will not be effective. Using learning technologies can help you check all those boxes. Learning technologies promote interaction and responses from learners. Learner’s engagement levels tend to go up, whether using an interactive whiteboard, gamified learning content or playing a serious learning game. Research in 2014 concluded that adding fun and enjoyment to learning boosted motivation and concentration. To secure a strong office culture and smarter, more engaged employees, consider adding fun learning tech to your workplace.

Learning Technologies Allow Peer and Social Learning

Remember the research from 2014 we just talked about? That same research demonstrated that fun and enjoyment in training created a ‘socially connected learning environment’, which was fundamental to reaching learning goals. Much of Gen-Z and Millennials’ learning now comes from user-generated content. That’s right, TikTok is teaching and people are watching, listening, and learning by the millions, every minute. Much of TikTok’s addictiveness is in how the information is presented; small nuggets of knowledge relayed and explained with visuals, closed captions, song, dance, and music backgrounds. When was the last time the head of Learning and Development at your company broke into a jig during a training session? Never? Well, before you send them off for jive lessons, think of the essence of TikTok’s success: it’s a community of users, creating content, sharing knowledge, and supporting each other. Isn’t that what a workplace should look like? And yet, companies are known for organisational silos that can bring entire departments to a standstill. Use technology to streamline data storage, create safe environments for sharing information and upskilling employees, and encourage social connection and collaboration in the workplace.

Learning Technologies Invites AI and Adaptive Learning into the Workplace

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace can seem daunting. It’s presumably expensive and difficult to work with. But before we even start arguing our point, what exactly is AI? According to the UK Government, artificial intelligence is “the analysis of data to model some aspect of the world. Inferences from these models are then used to predict and anticipate possible future events.” In actual fact, AI can offer fantastic solutions for learning and development problems facing large corporations today. For example, a large firm with over 2,000 staff in customer support requires training to upskill them on customer management in light of changes to GDPR regulations. Instead of mass emailing, workshops, webinars, and word documents filled with tasks, AI-backed learning management systems can assist with delivering and measuring learning outcomes. 

The learning and development team can work with as many departments as necessary, from customer service to human resources, in order to see how each of the 2,000 staff are doing with their training. AI identifies the skill level of each individual by recording the data and creating easy-to-consume data models. This is where adaptive learning comes into play. AI allows for learning to be continually adapted to each individual and their needs. Let’s say a solid 50% of the 2,000 staff speed through the training, with minimal repeats and excellent results. Great. The remaining 1,000 staff can be split supported in ways appropriate to their needs. Less organised, less focused, or less able employees will remain engaged, because the learning technology can adapt to deliver additional support as required. Learning technologies that are grounded in AI and adaptive learning are extremely effective for reaching learning goals in the workplace.

Learning Tech Gives Employees Instant Feedback

In today’s world, we increasingly expect everything to be instant. From instant coffee to instant messaging, we’re trained less and less in delayed gratification and can easily feel demotivated and disinterested in a task if we can’t get some form of gratification straight away. Learning technology can help. Forget annual one-to-ones, learning technology allows for smart applications, like productivity and time management software, or gamified learning content and serious learning games, to give feedback as soon as the learner clicks ‘done’. Employees like to see pie charts that show them they’re achieving, score cards that show them they’re improving, and leader boards that show them they’re winning. 

It’s not just employees that want feedback; employers want to see L&D strategies delivering and teams improving too. The technology delivering the program, be it a standalone tool or a learning management system, often can collate and present data seamlessly, providing actionable feedback for L&D teams

Learning Technologies Are Mobile

By next year, it’s predicted that 3.8 billion people will be using smartphones. Mobile learning, or mlearning, is becoming increasingly prominent. Mobile phone uses range from social media like Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, to learning platforms and work spaces. Many websites now have responsive designs, making them easily accessible on mobile devices. Many learning environments also allow for offline access or downloadable content so that learners can learn on-the-go.

Cloud-based Learning Enables Access to Learning Anywhere in the World

Businesses are becoming progressively more reliant on ‘the cloud’ for storage and communication. The cloud - which basically refers to servers, located in data centres around the world, and accessible over the internet - offers an excellent learning solution. Learning technologies are steering businesses away from restrictive, linear, and passive styles of training. Instead, training can be personalised, inclusive, and accessible from anywhere in the world, thanks to the cloud.

Learning Technologies Can Be Time Efficient Solutions in Busy Work Schedules

It can take a lot of convincing for a time-pressured team to take on learning and development as a priority. It is a priority, and many employees see professional development as a vital aspect of their jobs. Data presented in 2019 by LinkedIn showed that ‘94% employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development’. So, if employees say they want to learn but they’re actively avoiding it when it is presented to them, this may mean one of a few things; the training is dull, deemed ineffective, or they have no time for it.

Learning technologies can solve both these problems. For the super busy, technologies offer flexible, cloud-based, personalised solutions, that fit into schedules in the most effective way. From a time-flexible session of game-play or a 12 minute interactive quiz, learning technologies capture and hold attention, delivering results. For companies whose employees are avoiding training because it’s so dull, this is a sign that the material probably isn’t being learned anyway, it’s just being ignored, or worse, memorised and quickly forgotten. Learning technologies can completely reverse that. Again, the focus is on personalised, interactive learning, like serious learning games or virtual reality programs.

Learning Technologies Are Essential For Effective L&D Strategies

Data, technology, and plain old common sense all conclude that technology is essential, and when used correctly, can be massively helpful to L&D strategies in businesses. A workplace made up of happy, fulfilled, and curious employees, young and experienced, new and old, whatever their roles and responsibilities, will undoubtedly have a glowing learning and development program, that challenges and upskills employees regularly.

Employers can now use data to correctly manage their employees' development, and really see their investment in each employee come into fruition. Start cultivating a work space filled with individuals who are committed to their job, proud to work at your company, and excited to come to work each day.

Adeptly is an authoring tool that enables anyone to create decision-based learning games and record behavioural data. Create custom learning paths to achieve learning and development goals and easily track, assess, and adapt employee performance and behaviour.

This article originally appeared on eLearningIndustry.com at https://elearningindustry.com/reasons-use-more-technologies-in-learning-and-development