Digital learning in Australia is fast becoming the new norm for organizations around the country. There are plenty of reasons for this, such as flexibility and ease of delivery. Digital learning is also cost effective, as businesses are reducing the designated trainers on the payroll. Not to mention the fact that staff no longer have to spend entire days away from the office, losing productivity in the process.
As technology advances, the digital learning trend looks set for further growth. It wasn’t too long ago that Digital learning in Australia was just a clunky e-learning package that employees quickly grew to despise. But today, with the emergence of the Learning Experience Platform, better-targeted training and even artificial intelligence becoming involved, modern workplace learning continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
Let’s look at why digital learning is so popular, and some of the biggest trends in today’s environment.
It’s all about flexibility
Flexibility plays a big part in most business decisions these days. We’ve seen it as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Companies who are unwilling or unable to adjust to modern demands have suffered considerably. On the flipside, those who have been flexible to change are faring a whole better. When it comes to training, there’s an increased need for flexibility now more than ever.
With remote working becoming more prevalent, companies need to deliver training in a more flexible manner. Even companies without remote workers are always looking for flexibility, because it improves productivity. Scheduling large groups to attend a training session is difficult, and extremely inflexible should staff members be absent. On the other hand, digital learning methods allow people to attend training at less regimented times.
Accessibility is key
One of the biggest drivers for change in the learning and development field has been accessibility. Remember when training had to be completed at an off-site venue? Your staff would be gone all day, there’s the hassle of organising transport, and ultimately they have to work twice as hard on their return to catch up on missed work. In more recent history, training has been easier to organise on-site, however it still often required participants to be huddled in a conference room, or even something resembling a high school computer lab.
Those days are gone now, with so many learning and development opportunities being made available online. Staff can complete training at their desks at their own pace. Even facilitated training has moved online with the growing popularity of virtual classrooms. In fact, many of the trends we’re about to discuss have a strong focus on improving accessibility.
Have you noticed that the devices used for certain business functions are continually getting smaller? Jobs that once could only be done on a desktop PC are now being done on laptops. Business people once carried laptops everywhere so they could work on the go, but the trend has moved more towards tablets. And even things we used to use tablets for are now more often done on a smartphone. The same theory applies to training.
Increased mobile usage means that learning and development programs must be adapted to meet the needs of on-the-go learners. The content and materials not only have to suit a mobile device, but they also need to be accessible across a variety of devices. That means creating learning material suited to both Android and iOS operating systems, different screen sizes and multiple technology platforms.
For anybody who used to dread spending hours on end in training courses, this trend will definitely please you. A substantial shift has been made towards creating micro content. That means bite-sized learning packages that people can complete quickly and easily. It allows users to access smaller portions of training when and where they need it.
The other driver for this is people’s decreased attention spans. The younger generation have grown up on a diet of Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, which all cater to people’s inability or lack of desire to focus on any one thing for too long. While micro content is still longer than a 30 second social media video, it’s definitely a lot shorter than traditional training courses.
The added benefit is people can participate in training more frequently, but for shorter amounts of time. This helps to foster a great learning culture, where development is an everyday part of life.
Not all types of training can be adapted to a self-paced learning package, which is why facilitated training is still a big part of modern workplace culture. However, the way we think about facilitated learning has evolved from the old classroom style many of us are used to.
Facilitators can now use virtual classroom software, which still allows them to create and present engaging content, connect with participants and deliver quality training. A virtual classroom is still interactive too, with chat functions and the ability for users to connect and communicate via audio or video.
The new way of running classrooms has been a lifesaver during Covid-19 lockdowns, and not just for businesses. Universities and other educational facilities are embracing virtual classrooms as a safe, modern and convenient method of teaching.
Customized training programs
The use of customised training programs is becoming more prevalent due to the constantly changing nature of business. No company stays the same for very long, and its important for their learning and development programs to keep pace. While there are still plenty of certified digital learning packages for software like Microsoft Office, a lot of training is now very specific to individual organisations.
The simple fact is, participants respond much more favourably to training they can relate to. This means using real-world examples from within their business. Peer to peer training is also on the rise, specifically training content that’s developed by peers and co-workers. This helps to maximise how immersive a training package can be, because people are learning from others within their organisation.
Data-driven digital learning
Data continues to play a massive role in the modern workplace. However, where data may previously have been used more for sales and marketing processes, it’s now being utilised in the training realm too. Combined with micro content and learning on the go, data can be used to make development opportunities available quickly and intuitively.
Think of it like the workplace version of a company’s support desk. Have you ever tried to reach a company’s customer support team, but first you’re directed to look through a range of troubleshooting guides and help pages to try and solve the problem yourself? Likewise, data makes it possible for businesses to deliver learning opportunities to staff based on individual and current needs.
Data also helps training providers create better, more engaging, and more relevant content. They can access a whole lot of information on user progression, assessment results and learning history. All this helps to create better learning experiences for everyone.
The Learning Experience Platform
Many businesses already use learning management systems – a place where staff where training packages can be stored and easily made accessible to staff. But the Learning Experience Platform (LXP) takes things to another level. This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning are starting to play a role in learning and development.
The LXP is able to draw information from multiple sources and make learning recommendations based on people’s current needs. In many ways, it’s a lot like Netflix. The system realises you watch a lot of crime shows, and recommends similar shows you might enjoy. An LXP analyses your training preferences, for example if you’re taking a lot of online classes regarding leadership, it will provide appropriate training opportunities related to what you’re interested in.
So many of these digital learning trends are driven by participant needs, preferences, and the changing landscape of business. To maintain a skilled and engaged workforce, businesses should now start thinking about how their training programs stack up against this new technology.