Any technological tool that is designed to assist with or enhance teaching, learning, or assessment is considered a learning technology. From tutorials and simulations to information and communication tools.
Part 1: What Are Learning Technologies?
Any technological tool that is designed to assist with or enhance teaching, learning, or assessment is considered a learning technology. From tutorials and simulations to information and communication tools, like email, and smart apps that manage time and improve employee efficiency, there are hundreds of tools to support learning.
Which Learning Tools Are Most Effective and Which Really Matter to Your Business?
Blindly providing staff with smart apps, time trackers, task managers, and virtual assistants may feel like an effective use of professional development tools, but in actuality, they can just add to the noise of your employees’ day. Further, learning and development programs are evolving beyond starting at hours of videos or reading thick manuals and taking a multiple-choice quiz. These productivity-focused learning tools are not effective solutions to upskilling a workforce.
Additionally, whilst productivity and time-tracking software can be extremely overwhelming, they can also be an expensive band-aid over larger problems. Poor time management may be the result of disinterest in or lack of confidence or skill when attempting a task, not just pure inability to meet deadlines. This is a symptom of an ever-present challenge: how do you keep work engaging, stimulating, and enjoyable for employees and in turn boost productivity and reduce employee turnover?
Learning Management Systems
Used properly, Learning Management Systems can provide a holistic solution. Specially designed software applications take control of training programs and manage the tracking, reporting, general administration, and delivery of the training and employee performance.
Time Tracking Software
This software track and analyse time, which is often quite useful for the employer to understand how employee time is spent, but not always useful for employees if they aren’t motivated to spend their time efficiently. Time tracking software can provide a false sense of security; recording time for each task doesn’t equate efficiency. They can, however, point to where efficiency is needed.
There is an abundance of productivity software that employees can utilize, and for the most part, they are useful for task management, sharing information, and tracking employee performance. Like time tracking software, however, productivity software does not automatically spur on learning and development (L&D); instead, learning management software and strategies must be adopted in the workplace.
Easy-to-use authoring tools are also a great option for delivering L&D strategies. Broadly speaking, an authoring tool allows an employer or course designer to create and develop interactive multimedia programs, like games in which a learner must play to learn how to troubleshoot a mechanical fault in a vehicle or select the appropriate treatment for a patient in a hospital. Authoring tools are ideal for learning programs that incorporate gamification, whereby game-like features are added to non-game content, or game-based learning, whereby all the content is presented within a game.
Learning Technologies Compared to Traditional Learning
Despite the growth of technology and corporate adoption of learning technologies, there are still many habitual workplace practices that follow traditional learning styles. Work seminars, guest speaker events, annual appraisals, and endless training meetings are still the norm. Goodness knows how many boring PowerPoint presentations are archived in the murky depths of office drives. Too many. As useful or effective as these linear forms of learning may (or may not) appear to be, these methods often lack imagination, personalisation, and immediate feedback. As a result, employees are less likely to be engaging, learning, or retaining information imparted to them.
In direct contrast, learning technologies offer an abundance of benefits. Carefully combined into a smart strategy with clear goals, learning technologies can transform employee performance, happiness, and growth.
Part 2: The Benefits of Learning Technologies
Learning Technologies Are Mobile
From social platforms like YouTube, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Instagram, to workspaces and Learning Management Systems, most content can now be consumed on the go. Employees are familiar with responsive designs outside of the office, and so expect to be able to access their learning and work content across multiple platforms and devices. Many learners now download and consume learning materials offline so that they can learn on-the-go.
Cloud-based Learning Enables Access to Learning Anywhere in the World
This leads us to a second excellent benefit of learning technologies: the cloud. In 2017, Gartner predicted that by 2021, we would see more than 50% of global businesses becoming completely reliant on cloud-based learning, storage, and communication. Learning technologies naturally lead businesses away from restrictive in-person learning and working, and push towards an inclusive, accessible platform available anywhere in the world.
Technology Supports Flexible Learning
Along with mobility and cloud access, the flexibility of learning technologies is a key benefit. Forget cramming yourself into a dark room with 40 other people all staring at a mind-numbingly dull presentation for hours on end, learning technologies permit flexibility on many different levels. Learners who struggle to retain and comprehend information auditorily, and individuals who prefer reading and rewriting information, can do so at their own pace, in their preferred learning space. It’s no secret that the majority of employees prefer learning new material at a speed that is comfortable for them. Technology removes obstacles that may impede learning and opens up new opportunities for individuals with special needs in the workplace who require flexible learning programs.
Learning Technologies Can Be Social Too
TikTok has taken the world by storm, with accounts covering advice and educational content for virtually every and any topic. The hashtag #LearnOnTikTok was an initiative launched to support home learning for school students during the Covid-19 pandemic, and many accounts also provide content relevant for small businesses and start-ups. There’s also a world of knowledge on corporate psychology, career advancement, and personal development. People are upskilling with whatever resources they find most accessible to them, including user-generated content.
Give Employees Instant Feedback
Going hand-in-hand with the social aspect of learning technologies is the possibility of instant feedback. On social platforms, social learning enables instant feedback, something many employees crave in the workplace. L&D can use technologies, from game-based learning platforms to gamified productivity software to give real-time feedback on performance and development.
Technology Enables Personalised Learning
Not only is each employee a unique character with their own strengths and weaknesses, but each individual will also have a slightly different role in the business. For those who share similar roles, each employee will have different styles and methods for achieving their goals. Play to each individual’s strengths with personalised learning technologies. Authoring tools that create game-based learning platforms are ideal for personalised learning. These programs can be designed to include all the necessary basic training that an employee may have to undertake (for example, standard health and safety courses), but then can be customised to provide specialised training too. Further, if a certain topic is particularly difficult to grasp for one individual, then the game can be customised to offer repeated tests and retraining so that any individual struggling on that topic can keep practising until they get it right. Meanwhile, other employees can focus on areas where they require additional training.
Learning Technologies Invites AI and Adaptive Learning into the Workplace
Gone are the days of clipboards and in-person evaluations, now artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace allows employers to analyse employee behaviours, identify deficiencies and needs, and suggest or even directly develop learning content as required. This type of learning, known as adaptive learning, is proven to improve rates of learner engagement. Employers can trust that learners are able to learn new material, test existing knowledge, and even develop interpersonal skills. Each individual can receive training that adapts difficulty levels to their performance and provides feedback in real-time. Chatbots can also provide support and deliver personable feedback during the training.
Learning Technologies Can Be Time Efficient Solutions in Busy Work Schedules
During a 9-to-5, employees face many challenges, so adding learning requirements in already tight schedules can induce stress and lower performance. Learning technologies can greatly help where employees simply don’t feel like they have the time to take on additional training. Consolidating learning onto a single platform, where progress is recorded, be it through gamified content or full game-based learning programs allows individuals to fit their learning around their schedule.
Technology Makes Learning Fun
It’s kind of obvious, yet oh so important; without a genuine interest, engagement, or curiosity, the majority of training is completely lost on the audience. Technology makes learning interactive, responsive, engaging, and fun. A paper in 2014 titled The Impact of Fun and Enjoyment in Adult Learning concluded that ‘fun and experiencing enjoyment’ was a motivator, ‘a mechanism that encouraged concentration’, and the foundation for a ‘socially connected learning environment’.
Teachers and trainers are supported by technology; either by enhancing their delivery of a topic or by relieving them of the need to work directly with each individual, and instead allowing them to give attention to those who really need the additional support. Corporate teams who incorporate this type of learning into their L&D strategy will promote stronger work cultures, happier employees, and better employee performance.
Learning Technologies Are Vital For All Businesses
In an age of advanced technology and a better understanding of human psychology in the workplace, employers know full-well the benefits of an optimised and happy work environment. Adoption of learning technologies in the workplace has moved employee development beyond group seminars and passive training to a world of engaging, challenging, and effective learning. Better still, employers are empowered with data and can manage and support their employees using behavioural analysis and personalised training programs. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to chuck out the clipboard and immerse your company in learning technology.
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.