Before anyone makes any grand predictions it’s time for a reality check, says Speexx’s Armin Hopp.
2019 brings the promise of new technology that will drive more effective, self-directed soft skills learning. It looks set to be the year that the uptake of mobile learning will really accelerate – not least because Microsoft is reported to be eyeing the Human Capital Management (HCM) market.
In recent years, the reality has been that the learning community has tended to adapt emerging technologies more slowly than expected. To bridge this disconnect, Towards Maturity surveyed 700 learning professionals to find out what they are actually doing now and planning for 2019, not just what they are talking about.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (93%) plan to use live online learning (that might include live one-to-one training sessions or group sessions), 87% plan to use elearning and 70% plan to use mobile learning.
Mobile learning is going to be key for middle management training in 2019, according to Financial Times/IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance prediction of what’s going to be hot in learning and development in 2019.
Companies updating learning to include the latest mobile and live online learning technology can expect to drive higher levels of engagement and learning effectiveness.
They forecast: “As smartphones become more powerful – and screens larger – this front end of personalised learning will take some of the heat from L&D departments and hand greater control to end-users.”
Learning on the job
The learning community has been talking a lot recently about driving self-directed learning, in place of top-down learning delivery from traditional learning management systems. Towards Maturity found that forward-thinking training professionals are now looking at how to enable learners to create and curate their own learning content.
Almost one in five (19%) learners are using curation tools, up from 5% only two years ago.
Learners are highly receptive to the self-directed learning model. When Towards Maturity asked 10,000 workers how they prefer to learn, the overwhelming majority of workers across all age groups, (94%) said they preferred to learn at their own pace.
Just over half (57%) of workers of all ages preferred to learn at the point of need but, interestingly, more workers over the age of 50 (62%) preferred to learn at the point of need than younger workers under 30 (50%).
The increasing incorporation of learning into workflow has attracted the attention of Microsoft. “The DNA of Microsoft is now focused on the empowerment, development, and inspiration of people,” according to Josh Bersin, HR, talent and learning analyst.
He predicts: “There is a reason to believe Microsoft can thrive in HCM space. HR technology is moving away from the back office and getting closer to employees, moving into the flow of work…think about the needs of front-office workers (retail, hospitality, service).
“They need the same types of HR and learning tools that office workers need, yet they often don’t have desks. Microsoft’s products can deliver applications to these workers through the wide array of Microsoft mobile and collaborative products.”
Younger workers, digital natives who have grown up with technology, welcome leading-edge technology at work. More young workers (87%) said they were ‘excited to use technology’, compared with 68% of workers over the age of 50 agreeing with that statement.
Companies updating learning to include the latest mobile and live online learning technology can therefore expect to drive higher levels of engagement and learning effectiveness.
Technology needs context
However, tools and technologies are not enough on their own. When workers were asked ‘what is most useful to help you learn?’, the top three responses did not mention technology. 91% of learners said collaboration would help them learn, 81% cited manager support and 70% said mentoring and coaching would help them.
And the lack of relevant learning content remains an issue – a third of workers are put off by uninspiring content and almost a third reported they are unable to find the learning content they need. As we head towards 2020, some things do not change. Learning technologies will only be effective in the context of an effective learning strategy that drives a culture that supports self-directed learning.
Soft skills development is key to creating a flexible and adaptable workforce, ready and willing to take on new territories and work effectively across the world. Companies that provide learners with the tools to help them develop these skills during their daily workflow and at the point of need will be those that succeed.
About the author
Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx.