April 2018
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TD Magazine

Virtually Unskilled

L&D staff need to develop skills in technology and the virtual environment.

Most L&D staff are adept at providing classroom learning, but many have room to improve their technology-related skills. That's according to the Towards Maturity study L&D: Where Are We Now?

It reports that 85 percent of organizations have L&D staff who are skilled in providing classroom and face-to-face learning, but several of the top skills organizations want to see L&D staff develop involve designing or delivering learning in digital environments. Two-thirds (66 percent) of companies want their L&D professionals to develop skills in digital content development, 65 percent want them to hone their webinar delivery skills, and 60 percent want

them to upskill with technology or technology infrastructure in mind.


What specific capabilities should L&D staff focus on to develop these skills?

The Association for Talent Development's research report Virtual Classrooms Now: Using Technology to Reach Today's Workforces reveals that the top three training areas L&D professionals need to become more effective in virtual classrooms are:

  • engaging online audiences
  • using technologies that enable virtual classrooms
  • using software or design tools that adapt content for virtual classrooms.

Developing these skills would help L&D staff grow more comfortable with implementing digital learning, and it could also improve effectiveness. Virtual Classrooms Now found that instructors' and instructional designers' lack of critical skills is a top barrier to virtual classroom effectiveness.

While nine in 10 organizations recognize the need for the skills addressed in Towards Maturity's study, just 30 percent have audited their L&D staff to determine what skills they have and need. To ensure that L&D teams have the support needed to design and deliver learning in the digital space, organizations should survey their L&D staff on the skills they need to develop. Then they can provide talent development practitioners with the training and support necessary for success in those areas.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a research analyst at the Association for Talent Development (ATD), where she prepares surveys, analyzes data, and writes research reports and short case studies. Her previous positions at ATD include human capital specialist and communities of practice coordinator.

Prior to working for ATD, Shauna was a senior editorial assistant at Wiley in San Francisco, California. Shauna received a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley, and she is currently attending the University of Connecticut remotely to obtain a master's degree in survey research.

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