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ATD Blog

Learning Trends for 2023: What to Expect

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

With new trends in the learning and development (L&D) space every year, there is an ever-increasing demand for new ways of working and smarter ways of learning.

We’ve identified six emerging L&D trends that will help you prepare for potential disruption, become more efficient, and create new strategies for alignment in your organization.

Becoming a Skills-Based Organization

This trend is about shifting from a rigid job or role description to a skills framework that enables a more fluid understanding of work. Moving in this direction enables organizations to respond to disruption by becoming more agile and resourceful.

Becoming skills-based involves a learning culture shift and organization-wide collaboration. Many organizations are turning to technology to help with this shift. While technology is better than ever, it cannot magically prepare us for new needs without a deep understanding of the work being done. Identifying essential work outputs creates a learning infrastructure that can be used repeatedly to handle ongoing needs.

Designing for Inclusion, Beginning with Onboarding

We have the opportunity to transform our organizations to be more inclusive. This can and should happen by building inclusion into our designs up front. For example, we can expand the voices and personas we use in our learning journeys.

We can also promote inclusion by increasing the number of support touchpoints with intentional micro-coaching and mentoring, shifting how we provide learning opportunities, and paying attention to the different stages of the learning journey. Ensuring we spend time building inclusion specifically into our onboarding sets the stage for that sense of belonging.


Refining Design Thinking With Agile and Minimum Viable Products (MVPs)

Another trend we’re experiencing is a resurgence and refocus on Agile and design thinking, as well as embracing the concept of MVPs.

When striving for elegance in our learning designs, we need to focus on creating the simplest product that will fit our needs. If the goal is to encourage our community to enhance the learning experience, don’t jump straight into developing an app—first consider the simplest way to achieve that goal. The beauty of embracing an MVP mindset is that it can meet a set of evolving needs yet it’s sustainable and data driven.

Optimizing the Learning Ecosystem

Optimizing our learning ecosystem, especially with technology, can help us focus on the experience component and facilitate learner productivity. When we optimize learning ecosystems—by redesigning systems to provide less resistance, for instance—we improve upskilling and increase retention through engagement.

Beyond that, optimizing the learning ecosystem increases communication, knowledge sharing, and meaningful coaching and mentoring. All of these positive increases result in reduced content costs—a win-win for the organization.


Expanding the Organizational Learning Boundaries

To deal with disruptions at industry levels and to stay competitive, break down traditional learning boundaries and think differently about engaging audiences, both internally and externally.

Approach learning content more collaboratively and open-mindedly. For instance, include open-source content in your learning journeys. Expanding organizational learning boundaries means opening up learning systems to a broader audience. This helps meet emerging skills gaps to achieve organizational goals.

EXploring the Metaverse

The metaverse is not owned by one company. It is a virtual, immersive space that serves as a representation of the real world—including people, places, concept expressions, events, and human connections.

Think about how this virtual space can create truly immersive learning experiences, such as providing a safe environment for practice and failure through digital labs. It can also be used to host events and conferences, dramatically increasing connection for hybrid workforces.

More on 2023 Learning Trends

For more information about these trends and to learn about trend seven—how Web 3.0 will impact learning—check out the archive of my recent webinar: Learning Trends for 2023: Cultivating Connection, Alignment, and Efficiency.

About the Author

Matt Donovan is the senior vice president and chief learning and innovation officer at GP Strategies. He is a recognized name in learning, bringing more than 25 years of experience crafting learner-centric solutions and leading high-impact development teams. Not only has he received a large assortment of industry awards, including being named one of Training Magazine's Top 10 International Trainers under 40, his articles are regularly published and presented at a variety of national and international conferences. In his current role, Donovan has collaboratively implemented and grown GP Strategies’ Innovation Kitchen. You will often find him presenting at global industry conferences or writing articles for industry-specific publications.

In his former role as the global leader for digital learning strategies and solutions, Donovan oversaw the multifaceted team responsible for creating an extensive portfolio of engaging learning experiences employed by Fortune Global 500 companies. Many of these courses have received industry awards and recognition.

Donovan joined GP Strategies in 2009 with the acquisition of Option Six. He has an M.S. in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University.

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