In an era where employees get 60-70% of their information via mobile devices, what are the changes that impact managers involved in Learning and Development (L&D) and Workforce Planning Development (WPD). Information anywhere on any device includes the local cafe, the train, home or work. Have you looked out on the streets in your neighborhood lately? Over-60s walking or jogging with the latest fitbit and Bluetooth buds? What are they listening to - podcasts? music on Spotify? internet live radio? If the baby boomers are doing it, what does that say about the way the younger generations prefer to get their information? What message does it send to learning providers about content, delivery and learning management?
This article raises questions and attempts to provoke discussion and debate around what these changes mean for the now and the future of workforce planning and development.
Where and how do employees learn?
As an inquisitive person Marian has a question. How far is Pluto from Earth? She just watched a documentary about the solar system. That sparked her curiosity. Now, Google turned 21 on the 4th September 2019. And let's face it, it even took Google a few years to get going. So, less than 20 years ago Marian would have gone to the library, found the Science > Astronomy section, and looked for books about our solar system. She would have found a quiet comfy desk in a corner, near the window to unload an armful of big heavy books. Then she would have started her research. The whole process might have taken her a few hours, including the bus trip to and from the library.
Today, Marian opens her phone and says "Hey Google, how far away is Pluto?" She gets a concise and accurate answer in less than 4 seconds.
At the furthest point in its orbit around the sun, Pluto is 4.67 Billion miles from earth.
That technology became available with the Google Home product suite in early 2017. This simple exercise tells us a lot about how learning has changed in just 5 years. This style of learning called "micro learning"
What Learning technologies are in use today?
- Videos and quizzes - great way to deliver complex content in bite sized chunks. Video is interactive and engages visual
- Augmented Reality
- Artificial Intelligence
- Virtual Reality
- Social Learning
- xApi & cmi5
- Virtual Classroom
- Blended Learning
- Learning journeys
How do workforce development teams implement and manage them?
Despite the amazing innovation in content authoring and deliver, many of the challenges associated with managing online training and assessment have not changed. The tried and trusted techniques of invigilation and proctoring still largely rely on human invigilators or some inferior electronic compromise. Record keeping is still about assessing and verifying competency based on real-world and largely face-to-face processes to ensure the learner can do the job.
So is there any value in using the new online learning technologies?
YES, there's no doubt that these techniques enhance learner experience and offer convenience for all stakeholders involved in the learning process. But we must separate "Learning" from "Competency". Because a person has learned to build a brick wall using a virtual reality and simulation, doesn't necessarily translate to usable skills on a real-life building site. But it probably means they have the theory part down pat.
A good learning management system, designed for effective workforce planning and development recognises the distinction between learning and competency. It provides tools that ensure a healthy balance of students engagement, competency development, workforce planning, L&D management and reporting.