Technology is continuously changing the business landscape; whether it’s impacting performance through enhancing services and solutions, finding better ways to solve problems, improving customer service and engagement, increasing sales or detecting fraud, it is helping us in every aspect of our professional lives. 

A key area where technology is having a profound impact lies in our modern approach to learning and development (L&D).  Nothing is more important to a business than its people, and with retention and satisfaction high on employer’s agendas, L&D has become a critical area for investment.

So, how can you make sure you chose the right technology and that it delivers the value you need? 

Here are just a few innovations within L&D that are enhancing learning, increasing comprehension and impacting on performance:

Mobile Tech

This is probably the most obvious one to all of us – but using a smartphone in L&D has many benefits. Primarily, it enables learners to access content quickly and at their own convenience, letting them control when the best time and place is for them to engage in professional development.

It’s also handy for ‘microlearning’, providing the perfect vehicle for short, rapid exercises and learning to reinforce behaviours or key skills. Success rates can be higher, as mobile learning allows flexible access to different media, like YouTube videos or podcasts which can suit different learning styles perfectly.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Developing personalised L&D strategies

AI (bots) can pull data quickly and easily on demographics like age, gender, culture, position, education and previous learning.  Using all of this, the bots can produce analysis and recommend tailored learning solutions for individual learners. 

This level of insight can only add value for businesses, creating timely, accurate needs analysis personalised to the individual – which helps foster retention and engagement. Using the insight, companies can create intelligent and smarter content that’s aligned to the learner’s personal journey.

Automating this complex process can also free up time for L&D professionals to concentrate on creating the quality content which is critical for their learners.

Chatbots

Powered by AI, chatbots are conversational interfaces – such as Siri and Alexa. The aim of a chatbot is to create a human-like conversation – which is excellent for conducting quizzes, monitoring an employees’ progress after a training or skills gaps analysis, and delivering learning practice and assessments. 

A chatbot can also (especially on a mobile device) send bite-sized learning by relaying a topic summary to the learner directly.

Virtual Reality

We may all have seen people using the headsets for leisure and gaming, but VR is actually one of the biggest emerging technology trends in L&D today.

VR has two features which make it an exceptional learning tool:

  • Immersion – the level of detail with which a virtual environment can be rendered.
  • Presence – a user’s psychological and emotional response to the environment they are experiencing.

Combining immersion and presence allows learners to feel they are in a simulated environment, giving real-life experiences to learn from. For example, in emergency services VR is used to simulate crisis situations for response training, giving participants real situations and choices they may someday need to make.

Allowing the learner to experience what it is like to do something first-hand has a far bigger effect on their comprehension and emotional response – which is something no other medium can do – and has been shown to return higher levels of engagement and retention.

Augmented Reality

Just like in Pokemon GO, AR overlays a digital image on a real-world environment to give a composite view, making the learning process more interesting and fun. It can enhance traditional learning by offering a 3D view of objects, which allows for better comprehension through the visualisation of things that would be difficult to replicate in real life.

This gives L&D professionals an opportunity to take something that might be ‘textbook’ and bring it to life for the learner. For example – a medical student can have a root around a human’s internal organs without ever touching (or harming) a body!

Gamification

In a similar vein, gamification is an approach that gives learners the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-life situations by making them feel like they are playing a game.  When the learning is made fun, participant engagement increases, and they are more likely to retain information.  Simulations can be designed for any topic and varied depending on level of the learner, which makes this an excellent vehicle for teamwork exercises – allowing you to simulate complex issues that teams must solve collaboratively in an easily understandable format.

With all the interactive technology now employed in L&D there are so many benefits being delivered. The enhanced level of interaction VR, AR and gamification delivers helps reinforce the new knowledge or skills that change behaviours.  Learners can receive immediate feedback on their choices, and a feeling of emersion and participation that is usually only present in face-to-face learning can be recreated easily. 

Somehow, although new technology is already all around us, you get the feeling this is still just the beginning…