Organisations today are finding newer ways to adapt, change and equip themselves for effective organisational development. These changes are centred around managing and increasing effectiveness and enhancing business. An important requirement for organisational development is learning and talent development, while professional development plays a crucial role at many levels, primarily strategic and operational.
There are many challenges across industries that can drive this development, including growing global competition and the divide between required and available skill sets. In view of these challenges, organisations are building customized training and learning and development modules for their employees. This is why technology enabled learning becomes a basic necessity where technology platforms such as webinars, e-learning portals SoLoMo (Social-Local-Mobile), Experience API and Big Data come into picture. These platforms can help companies achieve more impactful and cost-effective ways to address modern training challenges. Furthermore, modern technological training tools can help bridge the gap caused by lack of skilled resources and budget constraints.
Role of Technology
We live in exciting times where communication technologies are breaking geographical barriers and cost challenges towards learning. Traditional methods of teaching are often found inadequate to fulfil expectations and demands raised by rapidly evolving technology and business models. The new generation training is based on ‘new training technologies’ and trainers see introduction of technologies in the process as a game changer – particularly as they hope that technology will help make the trainings more efficient.
Technology based L&D tools
There are myriad examples of how technology enables effective learning and development – for different audiences including the academia and the corporate. Some of the most common delivery methods and tools used include:
- Recorded Tutorials – This involves pre-recorded self-paced training programs delivered through online or offline portals
- Webcast – a web-based presentation which transmits unidirectional information from the presenter to the audience
- Webinars –web-based seminars which involve a presentation, lecturer or workshop over the web. This is otherwise referred to as web conferences. One of the key features of a webinar is the interactive nature of the session which enables elements such as file sharing, discussions, poll questions, live feedback and so on.
- Video Conferencing – enables audio and visual interactive training sessions in what are known as virtual classrooms
- Online Forums (bulletin boards, discussion groups) –discussions and learning takes place through threads and sub-threads allowing learners to interact with each other and with instructors on specific subject areas
- Virtual Collaborative Workspaces –A virtual space on the internet where reference materials and study information can be stored for future edits and to track progress on a collaborative work effort
- Blogs (Weblog) - web-based journals and blogs that enable online learning environment on several themes and subjects of topical interest. These blogs can take on the role of a learning journal
While the commonly used technologies drive learning and development to a great extent, many niche technologies are significantly gaining momentum too.
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – MOOCs pride on their flexibility in offering courses to anyone, anywhere and at any time. This is further bolstered by its minimal requirements - all it takes is a learner and an internet connection. Platforms such as Coursera and FutureLearn offer some interesting courses and participants gain access to wider courses taught by renowned professors –at the learner’s own pace
- Simulated learning through gaming – This highly engaging and interactive learning modality enables learners to operate and learn in simulated environments. Sessions are usually in the form of role playing scenarios and conjured conflicts so that learning is more effective and impactful
- Social Media – Perhaps the learning modality with the potential for widest reach is training through social media platforms. Social platforms such as Quora and Reddit have a wide user base that encourages a thread of conversations, QnA sessions and discussions on various topics.
- E-Learning through Mobile solutions – Cashing in on the exponential rise in smart
- phones, Mobile eLearning solutions enable learning for participants on the go. Mobile learning solutions make content available on mobiles with features such as sharing and reviewing
- E-Learning through Cloud – This is a highly specific application that is yet to achieve success across all industry sectors. This niche technology has found great acceptance among research communities who find great value in sharing information and faster searches over the cloud.
- Big Data: It’s behind every engagement these days, the challenge is around how to use the data to make what we do, better.
- SoLoMo: It stands for Social-Local-Mobile and refers to the integration of social, location-based, and mobile marketing tools into new customer acquisition platforms.
- Experience API*: It is a brand new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has online and offline.
Modern learning and training formats are highly diversified and each modality is finding great patronage. While considering the robust nature of modern training models, it is also important to understand that these are very fast evolving technologies with uncertain shelf lives. What is new today might become obsolete tomorrow.
Thus, the need of the hour as far as modern teaching platforms are concerned is effective integration of different features. As organisations open up to experiment with technology-based learning, it is imperative that service providers and technology developers understand the challenges faced by trainers and develop products that meet changing user demands. That said, the internet as it evolves is set to be the institution of the future for learning and development.