The EdTech Revolution: How digital advancements are changing the way we train employees
Tell a group of employees anywhere in the world that they have a mandatory training session coming up and resigned acceptance is probably the best response you can expect. Let’s face it — workplace training is at best dull and at worst a complete waste of employee time. But things are gradually changing. The advent of the EdTech Revolution marks a convergence of pedagogy and technology never before seen in the sphere of education. While some industries were initially reluctant to move away from traditional training models, the rise of remote working during the coronavirus pandemic has shown just how valuable technology can be. Here we take a look at some of the disruptive forces that are shaping a whole new era of employee education.
As developers continue to focus their attention on optimizing training platforms for cell phones and tablets, mobile learning is becoming an increasingly important tool for enterprises. The benefits are a myriad: Employees can access training materials wherever they are, can learn at their own pace and can create their own schedule. From an employer’s perspective, mobile learning significantly enhances user engagement and allows them to track employee performance via analytics. Training applications are also easy to deploy and update and can be configured to push relevant notifications to users to ensure continuous learning.
Bombarding employees with information in a single training session is unlikely to result in a high level of retention or engagement. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, “49% of employees prefer to learn at the point of need.” This makes microlearning the ideal training solution. The concept is simple: People absorb more information when it is packaged into small, “bitesize” sessions, each with its own specific learning outcome. These training chunks can take the form of videos, text, audio material or even cartoons — the important thing is that the information provided is concise and easily digestible.
Video-based learning and gamification
According to Training Magazine’s 2019 Industry Report, employees still spend less than one hour a week on training. With learning time in such short supply, L&D leaders need to get creative to ensure workers can quickly get to grips with key concepts. Enter video-based learning and gamification. The former works on the principle that visual content is more engaging and more readily absorbed by the brain while the latter plays into the natural spirit of competitiveness present in many businesses. Videos can encompass a whole range of different training formats; from live streams to Q&As to cartoons. They allow trainers to condense huge swathes of information into easily accessible and immersive packages. Meanwhile, gamification introduces a competitive element into learning, motivating employees by offering rewards and recognition. Combined together, the two have been proven to significantly enhance learner engagement and recall.
Analytics and Big Data
Teachers have always used data to track learner progress and inform decision making. The difference now is that Big Data allows for far greater analysis of every aspect of learning. For example, administrators can track engagement metrics on videos and articles, follow learner progress on specific tasks and see what content poses challenges. This snapshot of learning minutiae is key in determining what is and isn’t working and helps facilitate personalization of the training process to suit each learner. Machine learning algorithms can be used to automatically analyze employee e-learning activities and create reports or alerts. This allows employers to gauge each learner’s level of skill and understanding and address any shortfalls.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to revolutionize education in the coming decade. The technology has two main advantages: It can be used to analyze employee learning and offer tailored solutions and it can replace a human instructor in certain circumstances. For example, chatbots can be used to deliver lessons, answer employee questions and act as a virtual coach. Similarly, AI-powered learning tools can offer a more personalized learning experience by sharing relevant content and resources based on employee metrics. As far as training is concerned, AI has virtually no limits. New software and platforms such as Docebo, Zoomi and KEA are already capitalizing on its potential to analyze and report on learning data, but this is just the beginning.
Scenario-based learning and VR/AR
Scenario-based learning addresses one of the most critical issues associated with traditional training models: How to convert theoretical knowledge into practical application. It provides learners with a safe space to make mistakes, reducing the likelihood that they will repeat the same errors in the workplace. Virtual and augmented reality further enhance the immersivity and “realness” of simulated scenarios. AR can be used to display 3-D images on the employee’s screen while VR creates a complete simulated environment. While long lead times and exorbitant prices have prevented many businesses from investing in these technologies, they are slowly becoming democratized with the launch of new products by companies like Trivantis and Adobe. Scenario-based learning has been proven to promote “sticky learning” and also increases user engagement by creating an immersive training environment.
Though the education industry has historically been reluctant to embrace new technologies, recent developments have not only expedited the EdTech Revolution but made it more necessary than ever before. Already we see a huge gap opening up between technological advancements and those with the skills to understand and use them. At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many businesses operate and led to wide-scale employment. Continuing professional development and retraining is vital to address deficiencies in certain technological sectors and help combat mass redundancies. E-learning makes training cheaper, vastly more accessible and increasingly innovative. Businesses that utilize new technologies will see a significant increase in both employee engagement and skills.
The e-learning trend will only continue to grow in the coming years — it is down to employers to decide how to harness its potential.