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What’s hot in training the global workforce.

By Thomas Berglund
Anyone following recent learning and development (L&D) conferences and research would have noticed some common threads of discussion bubbling to the surface. Analysts and experts have been discussing a number of trends that are continuing to impact learning.
Co-founder of Across Group and CEO of Across Technology Peter Hinssen has recently commented that organizations face two key challenges: the increasing speed of innovation and the ‘super fast’ spread of information. The speed of change, powered by new technology, is having marked and in some cases dramatic effects on business performance.

Josh Bersin, CEO at Bersin & Associates, agrees. In this evolving world of change, businesses needed to be more agile. They need to be able to adapt and respond to change in order to survive and thrive.
A part of this business agility is for organizations to view their people as an appreciating asset, he said. HR and L&D must support this as it will lead to better engagement with customers.
So what are some emerging trends for learning in an agile business? Here are 10 to consider for the year ahead.

1. Mobile. No one can be in any doubt as to the significance of mobile. Be it the phone or tablet, mobile devices are changing the game of learning delivery, interaction, and sharing. Rather than looking at how mobile is evolving, the year ahead will see organizations developing mobile approaches to facilitate learning.
2. Personalization. Mobile brings with it an intimacy that users could never experience on a desktop PC alone. Through mobile, we are all becoming more used to content and experiences that are tailored only to us and are managed by us as well. These personalized experiences are powerful and provide huge potential for the way learners learn.
3. Video. The growth and popularity of online videos shows no sign of abating and mobile devices are well optimized for the video experience. YouTube continues to enhance its user experience with developments such as video polling and clickable links.
4. Integration. David Wilson, founder of analyst Elearnity, has commented that the big challenge for organizations over the coming months will be to successfully integrate current systems. Linking learning systems to CRM systems, for example, will enable the delivery of sales and customer service content at the point of need.
5. Bring your own device. In the next year, organizations will not
only have to grapple with the integration of its systems’ ecosystem, they will also have to consider their device ecosystem too. Why? Because personal devices are just as—or even more—powerful than corporate devices. In terms of mobile, that will throw up questions of which device to deliver learning experiences on—work, home device, or both.
6. Social learning. Learning has always been a social process. It’s human nature to learn from each other. What’s changed however is how social media technologies have enabled us to communicate and share at a completely different speed and on a different scale. Organizations are beginning to harness social technology for learning. This is an area that will only get bigger.
7. Gamification. Steve Wheeler, associate professor of learning technology at Plymouth University, names games-based learning as an emerging trend in workplace learning. He says this approach can be so much fun that it becomes addictive and as such, becomes a really important tool for learners. Games enable learners to suspend reality and to make mistakes and learn from them. This is a hugely important transferable skill for 21st century learning.
8. Learner analytics. Our use of technology means we are creating data all the time. The million-dollar question is: What can we do with this data that is useful for learning teams? This will emerge over the coming months as organizations figure out what their data tells them. It will be a big challenge though, as Bersin notes, since 56 percent of HR professionals feel their data analytics are poor. The prize, however, is to be able to tailor learning interventions based on what learner analytics tell you—activities carried out—not what the happy sheet tells you.
9. Performance support. The technology is there and so are the tools, the last part of the jigsaw is exactly how L&D teams are able to deliver just-in-time learning interventions. These are more akin to performance support—helping colleagues to do their job more effectively—than traditional training. Performance support is just one way in which the role of the learning professional is changing.
10. The evolving role of L&D. Take stock of the nine trends listed above and then reflect on what this means for the learning professional. The conclusion would seem to be that the role of the learning professional is also changing—and fast. With an expertise in how people learn, the L&D pro will also have a deeper understanding of what tools would work best to support particular learners and how that would be measured. Rather than being deliverers of training, learning professionals become learning facilitators. Learning has a critical part to play in agile business. It will support the development of individuals and of the organization as a whole and so will need to be an agile function itself.
Thomas Berglund is director of learning at Lumesse, a provider of integrated talent management solutions.

Tags: Engaged Workforce, HRO Today Global, Learning

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