By: Ber Leary on February 3rd, 2021

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5 Innovations That Will Transform Training and Development

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Most training and development programs didn’t go quite according to plan last year, for obvious reasons. But that doesn’t mean that the world of training and development technology has fallen behind. In fact, we could be on the cusp of a learning revolution.  

What are the biggest innovations in training and development? 

2020 was a year of constant invention, as coaches, trainers, and educators found novel ways to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. Classes moved to Zoom, eLearning went mobile, and video tutorials became our mentors.  

As we start thinking about post-pandemic life, it’s clear that we’re not going back to old-fashioned classroom-based teaching any time soon. People are more open than ever to new approaches to learning, making it an excellent time for disruptive training and development technology.  

Let’s look at some ways that tech has already transformed corporate learning.  

Data-driven DEI causes a rethink of training and development 

First, there’s the issue of who gets training and development, and for whom those courses are tailored. Businesses are finally facing up to the reality of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DE&I). It means tackling internal bias at every step, including training.  

Thanks to data analytics, it’s now possible to get an objective view of how your business treats minorities. For instance, one insurance company reviewed their hiring practices, using data and input from a diverse range of voices. After making some minor changes, they found that job offers to minority candidates increased by 46% 

Companies are now applying the techniques to their training and development strategies. You can analyze data points such as:  

  • Overall company demographics 
  • Demographic breakdown of training cohorts 
  • Completion rates by group 
  • Career progress and retention over 1, 3, and 5 years 

Analysis of this kind will give you a clear answer to a vital question: is your training and development program right for everyone?  

Virtual Reality opens a new world of training possibilities 

Virtual Reality (VR) training has been around for some time. It’s mostly been the preserve of high-fliers, such as surgeons and precision engineers. However, the cost of VR equipment has plummeted in recent years. Now even a small enterprise can look at a cost-effective virtual training solution.  

Walmart, for instance, has started using virtual training to onboard new customer service staff. This has allowed them to cut an eight-hour training session to just fifteen minutes, saving millions of dollars. In the corporate world, businesses are using VR to help develop soft skills. For example, leadership candidates can practice public speaking in front of a digital audience or role-play a virtual meeting.  

VR learning seems to offer impressive results. A PWC study claims that VR learners are four times faster to train than other eLearners. They also end up 275% more confident about applying their new skills in the real world. More and more people have VR kit at home, which would make this learning tool available to remote workers too. 

Adaptive eLearning delivers improved results 

The great thing about one-to-one sessions is that the facilitator can adapt to the learner. They can slow down to explain some material, speed past other things, and take a sidebar to explain adjoining concepts. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to deliver this kind of education at scale.  

Until now. Artificial intelligence, powered by Big Data, has spawned a new generation of adaptive learning tools. These functions are built into popular Learning Management Systems, and they grow more accurate as they acquire more learner data. It means that your LMS will get better at supporting individual learning journeys, resulting in better outcomes.  

This approach already shows results. One paper looked at students facing the American Board of Medicine’s Certifying Examination, focusing on a group that used an adaptive eLearning platform. The study found that students preferred every aspect of the platform – and 95% went on to pass the exam.  

Microlearning helps people find time for development 

Microlearning has quietly become part of our lives in recent years. Lots of us will gladly spend 15 minutes enjoying a TED Talk, watching an explainer video, or listening to an informative podcast. More and more, training and development professionals are leveraging this format to deliver bite-sized training sessions, known as microlearning. 

Microlearning isn’t just about breaking larger modules into smaller chapters. Instead, each microlearning unit should focus on a single idea or concept. It’s an ideal format for rolling out training about new processes, regulations, or policy changes. Training and development professionals have an area of channels they can leverage for microlearning, from YouTube to Spotify to an internal blog post.  

Advocates of the microlearning approach claim that it leads to 50% more learner engagement. Of course, that depends on how you deploy microlearning material. But it’s certainly a great way to keep engagement levels high, especially when dealing with remote workers.  

Gamification helps drive learning engagement 

Anyone who’s been homeschooling during the pandemic will be familiar with Kahoot. It’s a fun, colorful quiz app that educators use to keep kids focused on the material. Kahoot isn’t just for kids, though. It’s got a loyal corporate userbase as well, one that’s set to grow now that Kahoot has acquired the employee engagement service Actimo. 

Kahoot’s corporate training service is part of a new breed of eLearning gamification tools aimed at professionals. These tools offer incentives to keep learning, such as badges and levels. For teams that thrive on competition, you can spice it up with a leaderboard. They also nudge users to maintain daily learning streaks – a tactic used to devastating effect in the language learning app DuoLingo 

Engagement tools like these can help people stay committed to learning paths. For people working from home, it could be the nudge they need to keep learning. There may also be a long-term benefit to gamification, as a generation of kids educated on Kahoot will enter the workforce in the next decade. Those new adults will likely thrive in a gamified learning environment. 

We also just recently read that PepsiCo was inspired by the suggestion of an employee’s 11-year-old son to leverage the popular video game, Minecraft, as a training tool after receiving feedback from their team regarding Zoom fatigue 

While training and development technology might be changing fast with creativity and innovation, the overall purpose stays the same. It’s all about empowering people to achieve their potential. No matter what the next year throws at us, training and development teams will be ready.

If you are looking for a learning and development partner to help you build out more effective training programs for your team in this virtual environment, reach out to us for a complimentary consultation with one of our certified trainers.