We are in the Digital Transformation era where technology is disrupting the way we do business, avail the services from government and industry, and even education or learning in the organizations. The situation is changing because of global connected world, easy access to information, informed decision making, rising younger populations, growing economies, shorter product life cycles, and urgency of the business to capture the customer requirements and thereby the market share. In essence, we would like to do more in less time.
In the learning space too, we are witnessing new trends and there are many disruptions that are affecting the way we learn or learnt.
We have a growing and large millennial population that is looking for instant and just about sufficient learning. Long travel times resulting in lower time availability at ones’ disposal makes learning on the go inevitable. This, along with improved bandwidths and deep mobile penetration makes it possible to learn on the go a reality
This brings in a need of having an integrated platform to cater to learning which provides the same user experience across diverse platforms – whether it is a desktop or a mobile, irrespective of the operating system or the network used. It doesn’t matter if the user shifts from office to home to a mobile network.
With the average age of the people in the organizations, especially in the services industry, going down, learning content needs to be highly engaging apart from providing unified experience across platforms. The content needs to have higher interactivity and should have the opportunity for creating scenarios for practicing the learned skills, making gamification and simulations extremely important as part of the content strategy and delivery.
User Experience and User Design have become extremely important in learning to make the content well organized and have the right colors, font and sizes. To have the same experience across devices, learning content also needs to get adjusted to any form factor automatically so that the content is rendered suitably across devices used. The content also needs to cater to the Accessibility Design aspects for the people with special needs.
The complexity of continuity of learning makes tracking across platforms complex. This complexity increases if there is multitude of content from external and internal sources. The external content and internal content needs to be meshed up well. The desired content should fulfill the needs for learning as well as competency building.
It’s obvious that the organizations’ focus is shifting from learning to competency building as the learning options are plenty thanks to the large open source content available. The bigger challenge is how content is organized meaningfully and tagged to the organizations’ competency needs.
In this era of digital transformation, if digital technologies are becoming important so are the digital platforms for learning. The expectation is that if we can fulfill our banking, insurance and other business and personal needs through an app, why we can’t do the same with learning.
The content today resides on a Cloud and assessed through a mobile. The social learning is part of the learning platforms and lot of peer learning happens through the learning platforms. The faculty interactions in a virtual learning environment are largely being done through social media.
Artificial Intelligence is playing a bigger role in the organizations today and this century is going to see a lot of Artificial Intelligence based solutions in all industries. We are already seeing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality based solutions in learning. The scenario based learning and gamification is already helping in experiential learning. The Defense used it, since many decades, for training personal in battlefield surveillance, war gaming, ship simulation etc. The Airline and Manufacturing industry have also used it in the simulation of the flight or navigation and for training pilots and drivers using AI based systems.
The services industry is seeing the disruption too on three counts. One is on automating the tasks that requires repeat response from a set of standard responses. Machine assisted response systems can do few jobs more efficiently than the humans. Second is the business simulation using VR/ AR based solutions and pre-emptying the failures. These intelligent systems help build and diagnose situations where the systems are prone to failure. Third area pertains to learning which is a direct corollary of the Second area in the area of learning using these systems.
Internet of Things or IoT incorporates multiple sensors, such as position, vibration, thermal, acoustic or optical sensors that provides inputs to the systems to give a complete picture of a scenario. IoT has a huge application in training people in the Manufacturing, Airline and Defense in training and learning space. IoT has not been explored much in the Services Industry for training people. Some of the early applications could have the use of sensors in un-proctored exams and learning using optical, positions and other sensors.
In the IT Industry, as companies are becoming agile, there is a need to work closely with the customers on a pro-active and continuous basis, and thus need to cross skill employees more swiftly.
The learning systems and content is also required to be agile and modular and re-usable to enable quick creation of programs and meet skilling needs.
In other sectors, people need to be skilled faster too as product life cycles are getting shorter and so is the time to market.
Learning on the go — shorter, mobile enabled, need based learning in the form of nuggets and micro modules is the need of the hour.
The learning should be able to provide content on technology, domain, processes, marketing, changing buyer behavior, and change management to quickly adopt to this fast changing learning paradigm.
With the digital transformation, agile business environments, younger task force and increased innovation culture is changing market dynamics dynamically. The learning systems thus need to support the changing needs as a pro-active rather than a reactive option.
(The opinions expressed in the column are authors’ own and are not linked to any organization or department.)