Learning and development professionals have an awesome responsibility—and a tremendous opportunity—in making sure organizations operate effectively and efficiently. For their part, L&D pros need to be adept at understanding their company’s vision and be able to tap technology to help them achieve it. The pace of disruption, required innovation, and changing technology play a key role in knowing not only how but also when and why to use emerging tools.
Here are six technological areas (in no particular order) that, while not necessarily new (although some are cutting-edge), are trending because of their importance to the L&D profession. In addition to outlining the technology, we’ve provided some related resources.
Rapid E-Learning Authoring ToolsIn E-Learning Department of One, ATD author Emily Wood explains that e-learning authoring tools give the instructional designer a leg up. “Development for different size screens can be done quickly and easily in an authoring tool. These tools are a must-have for simulations, easy desktop and mobile development. They can also track user data,” she writes.
There is a multitude of tools available to the L&D professional, and unfortunately, selecting the best tool for your projects can be complicated. Here’s the good news: You’re not alone in this endeavor and there are myriad resources to help with your selection process.
- In “Finding the Right Authoring Tool for You,” Diane Elkins suggests starting your search by thinking through a few key areas: Is budget of utmost importance? Is compatibility critical? Or perhaps you need a tool that has a great depth of capabilities?
- Among the downloadable tools offered as part of ATD’s E-Learning Tools resource area is a course-authoring tool checklist.
Artificial Intelligence and Chat Bot CoachingStudy after study, including Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, states that organizations expect to deploy AI within the coming three to five years. AI can, of course, automate routine tasks, but it also can help managers help their direct reports develop skills. For example, Karl Kapp describes how companies can use apps to measure specific behaviors at work. Once these behaviors are measured, managers and employees can determine what skills need to be improved. Chat bots, more specifically—though often talked about less—can provide just-in-time information for employees, supporting them when and where they need answers.
- Transfer of learning expert Emma Weber writes: “If you don’t have the budget to invest in high-touch transfer solutions but still want to support the learners and make the transfer more learner driven, there could be another option. How about an artificially intelligent coaching chat bot?” Learn more in the blog post, “Using AI Chat Bots to Increase Learning Impact and Value.”
- In her blog post, “Will Artificial Intelligence Change How We Tutor on Critical Conversations?” Andrea Laus suggests that trainers and coaches can leverage AI by “assigning practical simulated conversation after class or coaching sessions where AI learns how the learners play and adapts the behavior of the simulation to challenge and train them most on their weak points.”
- “Will a Chat Bot Be Your Next Learning Coach?” That is the question posed by Margie Meacham in her blog post by the same name.
- “Well-designed chat bots that are programmatic (which means they push out coaching messages) stimulate thought, reflection, and accountability, and can drive the new actions and behaviors you are trying to accomplish with your training programs,” writes Vincent Han in "Why Chat Bots Are an Effective Alternative to Apps." Han also offers sage advice in the TD magazine article, “Are Chat Bots the Future of Training?”
Augmented OnboardingDebbie Richards highlights the use of augmented reality in onboarding in her January 2019 issue of TD at Work, “ Seeing the Possibilities With Augmented Reality.” The packaging company DHL requires additional staff during peak season, so the company requires talent to get up to speed quickly. Richards writes, “By providing real-time training and hands-on guidance on navigating warehouses and properly packing and sorting materials, AR has reduced DHL’s need for traditional instructors and increased the onboarding speed for new employees.”
- Using AR in your onboarding program is just one of many ways L&D and talent development pros can tap the power of its capabilities. Learn how to get started in "Making Learning ‘Real’ With Augmented Reality.”
- Read Alexander Salas’s blog post, “The New Reality for L&D,” for more about using AR for a virtual onboarding tour.
Digital Badging and BlockchainDigital badges can help employees showcase their ongoing development—critical for the future of work. Further, blockchain technology can be used as a method of verifying these badges.
- "Digital Badges Give Professionals a Visible, Portable Record of Their Accomplishments”—so why are you waiting?
- Amanda Opperman speaks to the growing interest and use of digital badges in two ATD blog posts: “Are Digital Badges a New Measurement of Mastery?” and “Using Digital Badges as Stackable Career Credentials.”
- Learn about how to get started with digital badges by reading a case study: “Digital Badge Program at IBM.”
- You might also be interested in the news story, “Will Blockchain Upend Training?”
Training Reinforcement ToolsMicrolearning is a hot topic in L&D, and with good reason. The assets that are part of microlearning are generally available at the moment of need and are quick to absorb. Many of these materials are created and offered via the technologies that are increasingly popular and available: short videos or vlogs, how-to resources via mobile, AR performance support options, and so forth.
- “AI May Flatten the Forgetting Curve” notes that companies are adding AI to provide the guidance when and where employees need it.
- Mark Magnacca explains how sales enablement success can be augmented by using microlearning: “Microlearning and reinforcement learning techniques give busy people a way to actually take advantage of this in the real world, using ongoing exercises, coaching, quizzing, and drilling.” Check out his full blog post, “Using Microlearning and Reinforcement Techniques for Sales Enablement Success.”
- See also Rashim Mogha’s issue of TD at Work, “Foster Learning Through Engaging Content.”
Immersion Technologies to Manage ChangeTech tools such as VR and AR can be used in coaching managers and leaders, as outlined above. But immersive technologies also can help workers at all levels better handle the changes that are rampant in business, from technology, to advances within our professions (think healthcare or manufacturing), to business transformation (such as mergers and globalization).
- In the blog post, “Research Backs Benefits of VR Training,” Alejandro Dinsmore writes: “Data suggests VR training can be more memorable than video content. And in practical terms, it is easily repeatable, scalable, and provides isolation from distractions.”
- Another post by Davor Gasparevic, “When VR Training Is Safer, Cheaper, and Better,” points to several real-world examples of how organizations are using immersive technologies to help their employees deal with change and disruption in the workplace, including—in the instance of Walmart—Black Friday.
As with any tool, these trending technologies are maximized only when applied effectively. Familiarize yourself with the applications, advantages, and limitations of these resources so you can utilize them to your learners’ benefit.