As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, maybe it’s time to refine our models and tools. How long has it been since you thought about your eLearning strategy? Time has marched on, we know more about what works to support better performance and what doesn’t, and technology can do so much more today than it could 20 years ago.

Rather than focus on the usual forecasts, in this article I would like to think out loud (with some helpful contributions from other practitioners) about moving the ball forward.

Intelligent technology and workflow learning

We’ve been publishing articles in Learning Solutions about workflow learning—learning that takes place during work performance as a result of experience, in a social context, or at the moment of need—for a long time. But designers, developers, and managers often seem to have been thinking that workflow learning is “performance support” and not one of the forms of hands-on learning or situated learning.

Micah White, director of learning research and development at CGS, suggests some workflow routes to consider:

“At CGS, we use a variety of digital and virtual assistants to enhance workflow learning. For example, we have a digital assistant that is programmed to listen for keywords and tome from employee interactions. The assistant then provides feedback on the interactions, helping individuals improve their overall communication skills and giving them advice in the moment. Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology analyzes voice and text messages to understand sentiment, tone and mood. Learning professionals can use these insights to help employees communicate at a deeper level, and improve their ability to handle and react to different situations. For example, a customer service company might look at trends in customer interactions to educate their employees on how to react to stressful situations, such as a power outage or medical bill.”

Earlier this year, Jane Bozarth’s Guild research report, Learning in the Workflow, provided an extensive assessment of the technologies and “approaches that support and enhance learning in the sense of improved performance and, in some cases, in the sense of improved performance and, in some cases, in the sense of learning as permanent behavior change.” This is well worth some study as you plan your 2020 projects.

I would also recommend considering Jane Hart’s suggestion of adding a “Modern Learning Advisor” to the offerings of the L&D team. This function can be accessed from the workflow.

Moore’s Law is still working

In his December 2019 Learning Solutions column, Mark Lassoff reminded us that Moore’s Law (“Processing power and bandwidth will double every two years”) is alive and well. Is it possible that L&D could provide support that would help employees access and use learning/training services that are available from the cloud? Think about YouTube videos or even cloud-based machine learning (specifically artificial narrow intelligence) to facilitate workflow.

Micah White comments, “Regardless of the type of technology, it’s important that all companies are measuring the effects of the smart solutions they adopted. This is how you will improve your programs and ensure that you’ve adopted the right workflow learning tool for your company.”

Upgrade your skills and technology choices

Returning to Mark Lassoff’s December column, add JavaScript to your skill set. Doing so will make it possible to extend the functionality and performance of OTS (off-the-shelf) authoring tools.

In addition, look at new protocols that provide true interoperability and device and operating system-neutral consumption of content. For example, Art Werkenthin explains in an article that will publish December 30, 2019 in Learning Solutions that cmi5 is “the use-case for xAPI in the ‘LMS launches content’ scenario. Originally released by the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL) in 2016, cmi5 is the ‘official’ specification for launching xAPI content from an LMS”. This will substantially enhance your capabilities.

Micah White has these thoughts about another choice, extended reality (XR):

“Extended reality refers to a combination of real-and-virtual learning environments. It improves the learning experience by helping individuals move from content to context, allowing them to experience their training programs in a more realistic setting. This is especially impactful for professionals who work in a job with life-and-death circumstances, such as airline pilots, members of the military, or doctors. XR learning environments allow these individuals to practice problem-solving skills under pressure without facing any actual danger. It’s definitely worth the investment—these solutions are keeping people safer, while also enhancing the training experience. XR can definitely support collaborative learning, and it will become essential as more companies move to remote office setups. Collaborative learning can take place in a number of formats—an offsite classroom, a video conferencing link or a work group. With XR, employees can work in a 3D space and collaborate on a project regardless of their locations and proximity.”

Humans and smart technology working together

In 2020, thinking in terms of “dream Teams”—humans and smart technology working together—will put L&D on the road to big dividends in performance. Include intelligent technology in your plans for:

  • Workflow learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Reflective learning
  • Performance adjacent learning

Didactic learning has its place, but it is time to move on to methods that offer better results at low cost.

Ready to learn more?

Join us at The eLearning Guild's co-located Realities360 Conference & Expo and Learning Solutions Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida, March 31-April 2, 2020. These co-located events form a mega event showcasing how AR and VR are making a huge impact on L&D today, as well as diving into what works in L&D on a more expansive scale. Follow the links above to see the complete programs and the exhibitors—and remember that registering for either event gives you access to both the AR/VR-focused sessions from Realities360, and the broader L&D sessions that Learning Solutions will cover. And wait! There's more! Register by February 7, 2020 to receive the Last Chance Discount: Save $150 on your registration when you register by the deadline!