The Future of Learning Tech is Here. So What Can We Do?

If you go to HR or L&D conferences frequently or just check Twitter and LinkedIn, you will often hear that L&D is out of sync or behind the times. The truth is a bit more nuanced, L&D simply has to do more today to be successful.

Thanks to digital disruption and the explosion of information, people can build their knowledge at any time, in any format. And that’s exactly what they do. Nearly  85% of people surveyed said they learn things for work by searching online at least once a week. Nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn weekly from videos. So the most forward thinking organizations are capitalizing on both  self service and formal training.

Image from Degreeds How the Workforce Learns in 2017

The transformation to modernization starts with thinking, investing and working differently.

We’ve heard things like the LMS is dead, but we don’t believe learning management systems are going away anytime soon. The problem is that LMS’ aren’t actually designed to empower learning, they’re built to manage it. It says so right there in the name.

That distinction seems to be why dissatisfaction is common. The biggest complaint, according to Brandon Hall Group (Brandon Hall Group, Research Summary: LMS Trends 2015, 2015), is the “ability to meet future needs.” Prettier interfaces and easier reporting are not enough. What today’s workers really want — and businesses really need — is a way to connect all our learning experiences in a way that’s simple and accessible.

Those experiences are mean something different for each person and can include everything from courses, people, practice, video, feedback, articles, failing, searching, podcasts, and classes.

The problem is that most of the tools or places where those things happen don’t communicate with other systems, so getting a holistic view of the skills achieved or even a solid understanding of what  has taken place is nearly impossible.

This is what the technology ecosystems at forward-thinking  organizations looks like: an intelligent network of tools, content, systems, people and data all working together to empower your workforce to learn better, faster and more cost-effectively.

Image from Degreed Innovator’s Guide, 2017

So what can learning organizations do?

ATD data says nearly 60% of workers’ skill sets don’t match their companies’ markets, strategies or business models. And eight-in-10 CEOs tell PwC this lack of expertise is a serious threat to their growth. All in, according to CEB research, as much as 70 cents of every dollar invested in learning is wasted; it’s irrelevant, redundant or unused.

It’s pretty clear, one size doesn’t fit most, so why are L&D orgs designing and delivering for efficiency and standardization?

It is not enough to train people to do existing jobs. We need to build totally new skills while we continuously upgrade and rebuild old ones. So the most advanced L&D teams are building resilient, agile, and innovative workforces. And they’re pairing data with technology  to create the conditions for continuous learning: diverse, always-on, and precision-targeted at business and individual skills gaps.

Many are on the same page — two of every three L&D  leaders are looking for new solutions to transform their people and their organizations. But the sea of vendors is vast, and crowded with over 1,000 systems and tools out there for all kinds of learning right now.

The new way to make learning work embraces the power of “and.” Courses and informal. Provided and self service. Video and podcast. Peers and mentors. And it’s all formatted in a continuous learning experiences that empowers, not just manages.

About the Author

David Blake is the Co-founder & Executive Chairman of Degreed. In 2012, co-founders David Blake and Eric Sharp started Degreed with the mission to ‘Jailbreak the Degree.’ Inspired by JFK’s Rice University speech, they set out to take on a big, audacious goal–not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Since then, the company has grown to over 3 million users worldwide who believe there is no single path to expertise.

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