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Webinar Q&A | Learning Trends for 2020: Rehumanizing L&D for the Workforce of the Future

The needs of today’s learners are changing in challenging ways. On one hand, their thirst for anywhere/anytime digital learning is increasing. On the other hand, they crave human connection and collaboration in the learning process.

The larger thrust of digital transformation is also changing the methods, places, and processes of work, requiring significant reskilling to remain competitive. With everything going digital, how do we rehumanize the learning process and build a future workforce that thrives in a competitive landscape?

During a recent Training Industry webinar, I shared 2020 learning trends that build on the best of both worlds: human connection and digital efficiency. During the session, I explored future-focused tools and talent strategies, such as:

  • Behaviorally focused digital apps
  • Design thinking
  • Immersive learning, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Learning experience platforms (LXPs)

Of course, none of these trends has any value unless it fits within the organizational culture and ties back to business outcomes. In order for these trends to align, organizations of the future also need to focus on leadership development, soft skills, better communication, coaching, and data literacy (among other skills) that make a human workforce more impactful than an automated one.

We’re at a critical juncture in building the workforce of the future.

After the presentation, several great questions came up from the audience that I want to share with you. Below are those questions and my best answers. This is an ongoing conversation, and I encourage you to keep the questions coming in via the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Q: How does employee comfort mode fit the new learning picture?
A: I think of employee comfort as the company taking a genuine interest in their employees’ personal health and professional growth. Learning plays a significant role in professional growth if companies have implemented learning journeys that allow employees to visualize and experience the learning required to continue to advance in their careers.

Q: Any thoughts about maintaining employee emotional stability with the new work-and-learn process/work-life balance aspects?
A: Today, with the pace of change, we expect that employees need to continually learn to maintain the skills required to do their jobs. As learning professionals, we can help to maintain a good work-life balance if we can make learning available when the employee wants it. If we can create that mobile learning environment and the employee can access their training on their phone, laptop, or any personal electronic device, then the employee chooses the best time to learn and their work-life balance is improved.

Q: Do you have any more information on design thinking?
A: You can find more detailed information and examples in our 5-step guide to design thinking.

Q: Can you speak to empathizing with both learner needs and business needs in learning design?
A: The learning professional also plays a consultative role when designing the solution for an organization’s training need and aligning to business goals. Once that is determined, then we turn our focus to the design thinking process and empathizing with the learner.

Q: Do you have any examples of a design thinking plan broken out by each of the five steps?
A: You can find more detailed information and examples in our 5-step guide to design thinking.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for the best L&D technology for a small independent consultant?
A: With the iPad’s embedded AR capabilities, it is easy to create demos that can show the benefits of this modality.

Q: What are some of the current software systems used to develop AR training?
A: You can find an extensive list of AR software here: https://www.capterra.com/augmented-reality-software/.

Q: In the electronic age, employees are tied to their jobs on a 24/7 basis. Any thoughts on keeping the employees from burnout?
A: Minimize the amount of required learning, and maximize the employee’s curiosity to learn.

Q: Any suggestions for how these tools can be used for teaching language (i.e., English as a second language)?
A: From a VR standpoint, you can create an immersive experience by placing the individual in a workplace that allows them to converse with other individuals and practice their language skills without causing embarrassment.

Q: Can you speak to use of these strategies with professional/soft skills vs. technical “hands-on” skills?
A: VR and AR make great tools to teach soft skills. Here is a recent article from Forbes on making diversity training more effective using VR: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebekahbastian/2019/09/11/using-virtual-reality-to-make-diversity-training-more-effective/#680cb7e57932

Q: For AR, did you have to create a 3D model to sit in the “real world”?
A: No, you can use the real world and superimpose the learning directly on the image.

Q: Do you have any ROI regarding AR and VR to help build the business case when it comes to getting upper management buy-in?
A: I do not have any AR and VR ROI case studies that I can share.

Q: What is embedded intelligence?
A: Embedded intelligence is also sometimes called “embedded analytics.” The idea is that a system can monitor itself with specific analytics that fine-tune its own operations in some way. A simple example of this is a digital camera. The camera is able to sense the image, automatically focus, and make corrections for low light conditions.

Q: Can you please explain the prediction that career planning and mobility are tied to relationship?
A: The thought behind that prediction was that individuals would have scores based on their mobility, qualifications, and work experience similar to Glassdoor for companies. That score would help determine the best career path for individuals.

Q: What was the platform you mentioned you used to improve learner experience?
A: We use the Intrepid platform to create improved learner experiences. More information about the platform can be found here: https://www.intrepidlearning.com/product

Q: What role will AI play in L&D?
A: AI will play a significant role in L&D, from adapting courses in real time to improve the learning experience to understanding what learning will be needed and offering it up for learners to consume.

Q: Can you share examples of financial companies you’ve worked with related to AR/VR techniques – where content is highly regulated and cloud access is highly restricted?
A: With the new AR/VR systems, all data can be stored on the device with no need to access the cloud.

Q: We’re still seeing a split in the way our learners prefer to learn; some are still ILT focused and others want more digital. How should we navigate this balance going into 2020 as the trends continue to lean towards digital?
A: Ideally, if you can provide learners with the option to consume learning digitally or in the classroom, then you are in a great place. However, today most companies can no longer afford the cost of instructor-led training and must use online options. Also, learners today find they do not have the time to attend ILT sessions.

Q: Where can we get more information about the SME-created portal in terms of software used, rules of engagement for SME and learners, metrics involved, etc.?
A: The example I showed was developed in SharePoint, and there were no rules of engagement. The vision was to create a YouTube-like experience in the company where SMEs could easily share their expertise. The metrics tracked were based on elements that drove usage, including the most viewed and highest rated.

About the Authors

Don Duquette, Executive Vice President
As the executive vice president of GP Strategies' global workforce excellence practice, Don Duquette is responsible for leading organizations in designing, implementing, operating, and supporting their talent management and workforce strategies, enabling them to gain greater competitive edge in their markets. His more than 30 years of international consulting experience includes the full spectrum of talent management including strategy, digital workforce, future of learning, and governance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and an executive MBA from Loyola University, Maryland.

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