Which Technologies are Changing the Way People Learn?

When I reflect on my career, it amazes me how much technology has evolved, and how it has completely changed the way I look at the work we do.

I first took on the role of “Training Director” for an organization about 15 years ago. At that time, most of what the training department did took place face-to-face, in a classroom. There was a little bit of elearning, mostly off-the-shelf page turners consisting of read-and-sign compliance requirements.

It’s amazing how much has changed in only 15 years.

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The evolution of technology has forever changed the way we interact with each other, and with the world around us. It has also completely redefined how we look at training, learning, and the various ways we support performance.

Here are a few of the ways technology has changed the way learning professionals develop solutions to performance problems, and the technologies that continue to change the way people learn.

The Learner is in the Driver’s Seat

The era of “push” is ending. People no longer have to wait to be spoon-fed
the information they need to do their jobs. We live in an era of self-service, where people expect to be able to do things in their own way, without needing assistance. This is the future of organizational learning.

The technologies to facilitate this are already here. People use everyday services like Google and social media platforms to learn every day, without thinking of them as learning tools. Learning organizations are introducing new tools that take the functionality of open everyday tools and apply them within the organization. As time goes on, more technologies will support the growing shift towards self-service learning and performance support.

Organizational Learning Networks

Personal Learning Networks (or PLNs) have been a resource to individuals for quite some time, and have garnered growing attention by their expanded reach fu

Organizations are taking notice of this and looking for ways to apply the principals of effective PLNs within an organization. By mapping expertise and facilitating personal connections, organizations can effectively build organizational networks that connect those who know with those that need to know.els by technology. A PLN represents a network of resources that an individual can pull from and contribute to as a source of learning. For many individuals, including me, a strong personal learning network functions as an individual’s primary source of learning and growth.

There are obvious applications for knowledge management technologies in this equation, and there are less obvious technologies that impact organizational learning networks as well. For instance, organizational curators can use one of the growing number of digital curation tools to serve as a trusted ‘information hub’ within an organizational learning network.

Learning Embedded Into Work

Training, when applied correctly, can be very effective. It is also, by definition, very disruptive as it requires people to actually stop working so they can start learning.

A long-standing challenge our industry has had is the usage of training as a cure-all solution for any performance problem. Part of this challenge is a long history in which training was the only available solution to any performance problem. Even if we knew it wasn’t the best solution, it was often the only tool organizations had available to them.

That’s not the case any more.

The rapid influx of new technologies in organizations opens a host of new opportunities to support learning and performance.  Technologies are available today that provide workers with the support they need to perform a task or solve a problem with much less interruption of the actual work. Training and Learning Professionals will face increased pressure to leverage these minimally-invasive techniques in the years to come.

Unprecedented Access to Information

Learning isn’t confined to a classroom any more. In a world where workers walk around with the entire internet stored in their pocket, workers have access to more information then ever before.

This access opens up a number of new possibilities for training and learning. Mobile technology has opened a number of new opportunities for learning and performance support. We live in an on-demand world that expects informational access 24 hours a day. Individuals expect to be able to solve everyday problems via their mobile devices, and the expect to create and contribute content to the community as well. Our training and learning strategies need to adapt to take advantage of the opportunities these new technologies present to us.

The Future is Here Today

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The technologies I’ve shared in this post are not part of some distant science-fiction future. These are technologies that are available today, and that many organizations have taken advantage of to completely redefine how they look at training, learning, and performance support.

At this year’s Learning Solutions Conference and Expo, we’re excited to be sharing over 100 examples of organizations and individuals that are using technology to completely redefine the expectations of training, learning, and performance support. Each of our concurrent sessions focuses on proven solutions – solutions you can take back and adapt for your organization TODAY.

The future of learning is happening today. Join us March 19 – 21 at the Learning Solutions Conference and Expo in Orlando, and find out how you too can redefine training by taking advantage of today’s technological solutions.

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