8 predictions on what’s next for training delivery

Virtual reality headset

Over the last few years, we’ve seen training delivery change from being predominantly a face-to-face activity as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Having proved just how adaptable learners can be, and how well technology can support a better work-life balance, we’d be foolish to think that changes in L&D are about to slow down.

In fact, we believe it’s just the start. So, following an industry-wide move to virtual instructor-led training, possibly the greatest leap forward for L&D in the last decade, here are our predictions for the next leaps in L&D.

Virtual Reality

We’ve all seen the goggles and most of us have had a play on a virtual reality (VR) golf course or looked out at the stars in the VR space, but what’s next for virtual reality training? Sure, VR is fun to have a wander around and get familiar with a new space, and perhaps it’d be useful for Health & Safety training, but can it ever really be more than that? The short answer is yes. Over the next few years, we believe we’ll see the growth of more virtual reality meeting rooms. A space where hybrid or remote working teams can meet using their holograms to share the same virtual space, bringing together resources, ideas and interacting in a natural, almost lifelike way. With virtual reality co-working and collaboration spaces starting to pop up (immersed and oculus workrooms) and already growing in popularity, we believe we’ll see significantly more investment in this kind of tech.

One of the most common criticisms levelled at remote working is that it’s difficult to emotionally connect with your team. But as VR technology becomes ever more sophisticated and the virtual environments simulate live real-life situations in an increasingly more natural way, we don’t think it will be long before VR will be able to replicate real-life team working environments. So long business travel!

Augmented Reality Training

With augmented reality (AR) already being used very effectively in more technical training, surely, it’s just a matter of time before AR makes its way into the more mainstream areas of corporate training. Sure, the cost is prohibitively expensive now, but as the technology matures and costs inevitably come down it’ll be great to see AR being used in more virtual training environments.

Imagine a nervous presenter being able to practice their ‘big presentation’ in their own slightly crowded living room to an audience of 150 people thanks to AR. Imagine joining a new company and thanks to AR you can have a play with all their products to really get to grips with how everything works, all from your kitchen table. Imagine being able to share that experience with prospective clients. The opportunities for AR are endless.

Personalised Learning Pathways

Right now, most learning pathways are designed for specific roles and experience levels. Those of us lucky enough to work in organisations with learning pathways can chose the pathway that resembles where we are and where we want to get to. The truth is though, some of what we’ll learn on that pathway isn’t quite right for our role, some of it we’ve already mastered on the job, and there may be some skills completely missing that we will need to go and learn elsewhere.

But with machine learning on the rise, imagine our learning pathways being completely personalised. Pathways which are prescribed following a detailed diagnostic, and actively updated with daily microlearning activities based on our current performance and anticipated needs. With more and more time spent working online, we predict that machine learning will be able to hone its analysis of employee skills and wider company needs, gathering data and recommending training based on its insights. For example, maybe it’ll notice that, over time, your calendar schedule and your to-do list just aren’t matching up. So, it’ll send a pop-up notification suggesting that you book yourself onto a productivity workshop, along with the dates and times of related training from your company’s recommended provider.

Centralised Learning Passports

With hard copy certificates and licenses becoming obsolete, there’s a real gap in the market for keeping track of our development and accomplishments across the 40+ year careers. Career changes, new roles and promotions can all potentially mean new file storage systems, and suddenly you find that the years of PDFs you thoughtlessly left in your old work drive have disappeared. And you never know when you might need them! We believe that the future of L&D will hold a solution to this, with a centralised passport system storing all your awards and credentials that can be transferred from role to role, industry to industry, so that you don’t need to have the last-minute ‘What was the name of that course from 2018?’ panic again.

Asynchronous & Synchronous Blend

As more people work flexible hours and from flexible locations, the actual time we spend in training will need to flex too. Using emerging tech and strong design principles, training programmes will move towards mixing up synchronous live sessions with curated self-led learning, along with participants working together asynchronously on collaborative tasks. The key to this success will be consideration of the value of peer learning at every step of a programme. Organisations will then be able to open training to wider and more geographically dispersed audiences, who will in turn learn in a more targeted way from peer networks.

Learn from Anywhere

Over recent years, we’ve all seen expectations shift from working in an office to working from home and increasingly to working from anywhere. True flexible working is on the rise and we’re more unlikely than ever to accept rigid rules on where we work.

Think about it – we may have swapped in-person training for virtual instructor-led training but for most of us, all that really means is that we’ve swapped sitting in a conference room to sitting at a computer screen. With increasing concerns over the health implications of long-term remote working, virtual training has a real opportunity to shake things up and make wellbeing and accessibility a priority.

Think learning content that is designed primarily for mobile viewing and participation; pre-learning that can be accessed offline and consumed from the garden, a coworking space or while out for a run; or pre-comms that are designed for people to access live training sessions in whatever way is most comfortable and accessible for them.

Enhanced Chat Bot Usage

In the not-so-distant future, chatbots won’t just direct learners to FAQs and perform other surface-level support functions. In fact, it’s possible that chatbots will be used in a coaching capacity, so users can go beyond multiple-choice questions to help test their understanding and move closer to authentic roleplaying. Given the advancements being made in Natural Language Processing (NLP), this is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Imagine the possibilities of chatbots having access to training content & resources and being able to challenge learners by adapting their questions and responses in real-time.

Shift From ‘Knowing’ to ‘Doing’

As our world becomes increasingly virtual, automating processes and roles will become ever more alluring. Consequently, L&D departments will be under greater pressure to justify their training budgets and demonstrate greater ROI. To compete with bots, employees need to hit the ground running and operate at maximum efficiency. In response, we envision a trend towards encouraging learners to spend more time practising and applying their knowledge rather than attending lectures. Learning designers will be crucial to supporting this pivot in direction, and the objective of the facilitator will shift from facilitation to motivational mentoring.

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