The longest days of summer are already gone, businesses are slowing down and one by one employees are enjoying a well-deserved vacation: what more perfect time to get acquainted with the trends of the digital learning world?! As they do each year, last April the Brandon Hall published its latest study on the status and results of various learning solutions. After questioning more than 300 companies in 31 industries and 35 countries – including France, the UK and the USA – they were able to determine the five main trends of learning and development departments around the globe, thereby shedding light on what’s really going on in the digital learning world. Here’s what you can do to follow best practices of digital learning.
1 – Explore new technologies
If developing a learning strategy has been your main concern over the last few years, there’s a 48% chance that this has shifted to new technologies, and that’s because companies are turning to their employees for ideas. Indeed, it’s no surprise that 43% of those interviewed expressed the need for more social and collaborative tools. Internal communication is becoming a top priority. And rightly so, as the way that communication is done – especially in the learning world – affects the platform and the way it is conceived. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are now becoming an average of 39% of Learning and Development department’s budgets and this number is expected to increase even more in the coming year. Social mobile technologies are an increasing part of the budget as well, 4.7%, and are expected to continue to rise.
But there’s a catch. While this priority seems well founded, there are however disappointing results concerning what companies actually think of their learning platforms. Indeed, most give them a failing grade of 60/100, which is startling considering their important role in training talent . Take the example of discussion forums. A solid 46% agree that they are essential to the platform . And yet, only 8% of those asked were very satisfied with their quality., It was also given the worse grade of all informal technology tools, 53/100. The key that might help solve this conundrum is the increasing importance of just-in-time, just-for-me technologies, a learning platform that lets individuals access to the training they need, when and where they want.
2 – Clearly define your learning strategies
Learning strategies are a necessary first step when adopting any particular type of training. What do you want to achieve? In how much time? For what population? And how involved do you want employees to be? These questions are among the many that you must answer before investing in an LMS or other type of learning tool. However, sometimes strategies are either not well defined or else objectives are not met. Compared to the prior year, 2016 saw a 16% increase of companies wishing to change to a new LMS. This is equal to a total of 44% of the companies asked!
Of course, there are reasons for these decisions: 88% want to improve user experience and 75% are concerned with administrator experience. Indeed, an overwhelming 40% of companies consider user-centric technologies a better investment because they are essential to their business, and 43% say that it will be a non-negotiable criteria in choosing their new learning technology (LT). From these results we can conclude that companies are concentrating more and more on their employees.
3 – Integrate technology into more sectors
Integration is the newest tech of the digital learning world. 77% of companies say it is becoming essential to their LT. While being able to develop an integrating tool for different systems is one thing, 66% of companies still report that integration is in a drastic need of improvement. Content management and talent management are among the top three human resource information system (HRIS) most integrated into LTs . However, while HRIS is perceived as the least critical integration need, for 36% of companies talent management is a critical issue of integration. Indeed, in the talent war that has emerged in the globalized 21st century, being able to maintain a talented workforce within the company and staying on top of new content have become absolutely essential practices.
The solution that companies have found are suite solutions. Being able to find an integrated system from a single vendor is ideal, especially when the need for technology that meets each employee’s needs is as high as it is today. While increasing productivity and decreasing complexity, it will also improve the results of employees following training and will increase, their user satisfaction.
4 – Revamp learning technologies
While the overall satisfaction with LTs ranges from 2.83 to 1.9 (on a scale of 4, 4 being the highest score), we might wonder what caused the slump in LTs? It might be because of the lack of renewal, or because of the need for certain areas to improve their functionality. Indeed, we might need to ask some questions if 33% are not at all satisfied with LCMS, 41% with learner generated content and 48% with augmented reality. Why is that a problem, you ask? These tools help manage the most important part of any training: content. If the latter is not well managed, as is currently the case, the involvement of employees in their training will dramatically decrease. Similarly, if the management of attractive tools such as certifications and learning paths were given poor ratings, this is also problematic given the importance of those tools for both companies and employees.
However, the battle is not over yet. Indeed, the technological aspects of formal learning score higher in overall satisfaction than informal and experiential learning. What this indicates is simple. There are differences between the old training tools and the new technologies that they are being used to support. If companies are still having a hard time understanding their use and handling their complexity, it might be because the period of adaptation is not yet over.
5 – Use Key performance indicators (KPI) to your benefit
Despite its many challenges and current setbacks, technology has had a very positive effect on the status of KPIs. Indeed, 40% say their revenue went up by 10% or more and 53% say the same for their productivity. Of course, this does in no way necessarily represent a direct causation between technology and these improvements, but it does indicate that there is a correlation. Organizations report significant improvements after implementing technology, and in a world where the next best thing is the smartphone, this has a particularly significant meaning.
Companies are adapting to the new technological world of the 2010s, where the role of learning technology in improving the overall business is important if not necessary. Only 3% of companies say they have no plans to implement learning technologies. And if we consider the size of the average HR budget, this represents a significant investment to move learning technologies forward. After all, they are our present and, most of all, our future.