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EdTech: Corporate Learning

EdTech: Corporate Learning

Corporate learning: On a mission to engage

The content and delivery of corporate learning have seen significant change over the years, driven by the demands and preferences of the modern workforce as well as advances in technology.
On top of this, learning and development (L&D) teams have had to deal with new challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, such as talent shortages and skill gaps (exacerbated by the Great Resignation). This has made employee wellbeing, retention, upskilling, and reskilling the needs of the hour.

Why the renewed impetus?

In this Insight, we highlight six trends in how corporate learning is delivered. Interestingly, these trends are not usually observed in isolation; rather, we often see several being applied in tandem. For instance, learning programs may feature a combination of microlearning, just-in-time (JIT) learning, and game-based learning.
These trends are hardly new, but they gained traction during the pandemic. Here are some underlying reasons for the renewed focus on corporate learning and its efficacy.
  • The pandemic reinforced L&D’s role as an agent for change. 64% of L&D professionals surveyed globally believe that 2021 was the year L&D went from being a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have.” As of March 2021, 33% of L&D practitioners expected their budgets to increase, touching pre-pandemic levels, after a dipp in 2020 due to uncertainty.
  • The shift to online learning continues apace. In pre-pandemic early 2020, 38% of L&D professionals surveyed globally expected to spend less on instructor-led training, while 57% expected to spend more on online learning. In 2021, those numbers increased significantly, with 73% expecting to spend less on instructor-led training and 79% expecting to spend more on online learning. 
  • Learner-centricity and experience are at the forefront of program design. While online learning has, in general, ticked the cost-effectiveness and convenience boxes so far, program efficacy and learner engagement have been more elusive. Content design that revolves around the learner and links to organizational goals and values has never been more important. 
  • Hybrid workforces call for flexible, blended learning. From being a temporary, pandemic-era arrangement, hybrid work is becoming a more permanent working style. According to a Gartner study, 48% of employees are likely to work remotely at least part of the time post-pandemic, in contrast with 30% in pre-pandemic times. As a result, training programs will need to be designed with the hybrid workforce in mind, ensuring remote workers receive the same quality of training. Although in-person training is making a comeback—30% of businesses are returning to face-to-face training—employers are offering employees blended learning options.
Corporate learning - 6 trends
Source: SPEEDA Edge

1. Microlearning

Microlearning, or bite-sized learning, is more than just delivering shortened training sessions. To combat digital learning fatigue, microlessons must also be sharper and relevant. What’s more, their function goes beyond training and aids employee motivation as well. Ideally suited for JIT learning, microlearning provides opportunities to be creative with content, from using multimedia to game-based elements.

2. JIT learning

Also known as “learning in the flow of work,” JIT learning fuses learning with work and employee engagement, because people tend to learn better when they need to apply the content immediately. JIT learning decentralizes training, with business units aligning learning with their workflows. 
Learning resource storage and organization are important with JIT learning, so that employees don't waste time looking for the appropriate material. It also calls for the improved design of mobile-friendly versions of training experiences. With the incorporation of machine learning, AI, and data analytics, JIT learning overlaps with adaptive learning, resulting in personalized learning paths and Netflix-style, on-demand content libraries.

3. Immersive learning

The use of immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in corporate learning, bridges theory and real-world application by providing a simulated, hands-on, distraction-free learning environment. It also allows the exploration of difficult concepts and tasks in safe, risk-free environments.
Besides being more advanced, VR/AR tech is also more attainable and viable now. This allows its application across multiple use cases including customer service training, developing presentation skills, employee skill evaluation, and soft skills development, to name a few.

4. Adaptive learning

Adaptive, or personalized learning, has evolved from being driven by algorithms to incorporating machine learning, AI, and big data. These technologies allow the automatic adjustment of training content and difficulty level based on the learner’s interactions and performance.
What’s more, since every interaction with a training module or learning platform results in a data point, these data points can be collected and analyzed not just with a view to adapting to learners’ needs, but also to design and modify learning programs.

5. Social learning

Also dubbed cohort-based learning, peer learning, and collaboration, social learning refers to learning from and with peers as well as from social media. As social creatures, employees desire a sense of community, and when those with shared goals engage in training as a group, not only can training be provided at scale, but its impact is felt at scale too. With opportunities to interact and collaborate, social learning is also more enjoyable—especially since the pandemic increased the demand for peer learning, as employees grapple with the isolation that accompanies remote working.
Social learning features used by organizations include online forums, web conferencing, gamification and rewards, subject matter experts, resource libraries and organizational wikis, user-generated videos, live chat, social feeds, clubs, and team-based leaderboards.

6. Game-based learning

Organizations are increasingly adding gamification features to boost employee engagement through healthy competition. Employees also report an increase in motivation and productivity after engaging in gamified training.
Gamification features that can be incorporated into training programs include badges, experience points, leveling up, scorecards and leaderboards, streaks, and learner vs. learner quizzes.

What else is trending?

Besides delivery methods, certain content types have also witnessed increased interest.
  • Content to upskill and reskill employees for current and future roles. Companies are increasingly aware of existing and future skill gaps and the need to close them by upskilling and reskilling their workforce. Sources estimate that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by the increased use of technology, but 97 million new roles may emerge from the new equilibrium between humans and technology. What’s more, 40% of core skills in current roles will change over the next five years and 50% of all employees will need reskilling. L&D teams themselves will need to upskill to be able to execute talent strategies within their organizations.
  • Programs that promote employee health and wellness. The pandemic has heightened the focus on employee well-being, helping them avoid burnout, manage the pressure to upskill and self-learn, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Diversity and inclusion (D&I) training. D&I was a global hot topic even before Covid-19, but it has now become even more important, with L&D playing a key role in creating an inclusive workplace. In fact, 64% of L&D professionals globally have made D&I a top priority, with 71% either having a D&I program or considering implementing one. Company reputations are involved—those with effective D&I programs are 22% more likely to be seen as industry leaders with high-caliber talent. 

L&D has certainly become a dynamic function in modern organizations and will continue to evolve to meet changing business needs and workforce preferences. As technologies advance and new ones emerge, corporate learning content and delivery will continue to transform, and we can’t wait to discern new trends in this space.

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