As workplaces adapt to the pandemic-driven need for new tools to support remote learning, we foresee an increase in hiring technologists to address that need, as well as reskilling those already involved in remote-learning platforms. Artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality are transforming how and where we learn, bringing new life to education and resulting in a more immersive experience.
With these exciting technological developments comes the opportunity to seize this moment of invention to ensure that the needs of end-users take priority in platform design and execution. Putting people first should be part of an organization’s learning and technology strategy. Instructional designers—as well as the teachers delivering the content—should do their part to support uniquely human needs and skills along with technology-enabled processes.
Here are a few key points to consider:
? Be vigilant in eliminating inherent bias. The use of AI can impact every aspect of the diversity and inclusion spectrum, from creating bias-free programming to optimizing curricula and content that enhances recruiting, teaming, and leadership skills. Inclusiveness should be front and center when designing and developing new tools. An organization’s designers and eLearning developers should partner with diversity and inclusion (D&I) professionals to ensure that D&I objectives and considerations are included to mitigate bias, encourage inclusion, and minimize inaccuracies and inequities.
? Bridge the generational gap. We are in a historic era in which five generations are still in the workforce. This can be great for mentoring and encouraging career-long learning. It also poses unique challenges for training and education since values, inherent skills, and learning experiences can differ widely with age. Software developers can play an essential role in finding the middle ground between those who place a high value on their privacy, for example, and those who welcome the ease of use that comes with sharing information and data. It is essential to find an approach that bridges the comfort zones of both.
? Balance science and engineering with “human” skill sets. Technology makes work and business more efficient, effective, and resilient, but many key business capabilities remain uniquely human: relationship building, teaming and collaborating, active listening and empathy, and critical thinking. Technology tools and teachers will need to ensure these important learnings are incorporated in planning and designs. In addition to rounding out the individual learner, attention to these skill sets will help establish trust and build a sense of belonging, both of which are key in encouraging employees to embrace disruption and forge strong connections with coworkers, managers, and customers.
? Support the organization’s goal to play a more active role in the education process. The increase in virtual interactions we all experienced in 2020 has opened up the possibility of more widespread acceptance and use of remote-learning tools, making career-long education a more accessible and affordable option for many businesses and public entities. As a result, increasing numbers of organizations play a very direct role in providing educational opportunities for their employees through internal program development or collaborating with academic institutions and other accredited providers. We believe those who act decisively to embrace this movement will significantly enhance their brand as innovators and employers of choice over the next five years.
As a designer or developer of learning technologies, you are charged with a broad array of responsibilities associated with changing and upgrading workforce education processes. The pressure to help migrate learning to virtual platforms will only increase. You must keep up with the latest technology tools while simultaneously keeping pace with the shifting requirements of businesses, governments, and local and global markets.
We also believe this is an opportune time to learn more about the generational and attitudinal shifts of those receiving the learning and consider the following concerns: new requirements around diversity and inclusion; privacy, ethics, and trust issues; and the ability to grow as workers and aspiring individuals over the long term. As humans and machines continue to converge, the suggested points above may help contribute to continuous innovation and maximizing humanity.
The views reflected in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.