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Blog: 5 Learning Technology Trends

Lauren Tomlinson

Machine learning
Giving a computer the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed has wide reaching applications, but potentially nowhere with more impact than in learning and development. Imagine the possibilities of an application that can genuinely learn about how YOU learn, and adapt on the fly without updates. It adds a dimension to the learning experience that currently needs time and human intervention.
I don’t imagine it’s going to replace an experienced instructor or provide as much value as a room full of your peers, but it’s a definitive step towards greater levels of personalisation, and it might just be the technology that allows people to have more confidence in the impact of eLearning.

Integration & Analysis
As learning and development becomes performance engineering, the need for good data is increasing exponentially. Not just how the learning is consumed, not whether it’s been retained, not whether the student is using what they’ve learned, but clear data on the impact that learning has on the performance of the business. Doing that today is hard. Systems aren’t integrated easily and the often don’t connect well outside of HR functions.

What I’m talking about is the ability to look at improved sales performance, marketing efficiency and leadership competency, in line with financial performance and connected back to the content consumed by individual learners. This is going to get a lot easier and better very soon.

Neuroscience
Studying the nervous system is helping the industry to deeply understand the impact of different kinds of stimuli on the learning experience. Behavioural science has already taught us a lot about how people encode, consolidate and retrieve information in different circumstances but I believe the next few years will see this understanding expand.
Imagine planning some learning for an individual with the definite knowledge that it will have the impact that you’re looking to achieve. The heightened reputation you’ll enjoy because of rising levels of satisfaction and the impact that a hyper-improved capacity to learn will have on productivity.

Mobility
It appeared to me that the most exciting prospect for technology in learning is anytime, anywhere access. Although this has been realised in part, learning is still more often referred to as remote rather than truly available anywhere. You can access the materials but you’re still invariably tied to a laptop and often at a desk. I believe that we will begin to see more successful applications of mobile learning, with better, adaptable user experience and greater depth.
Augmented reality is a strong first step in this direction, allowing for incredible possibilities to deliver contextual learning. As students begin to interact with technology differently there is invariably a shift in trends. I’m yet to be convinced that augmented reality with have universal applications but better mobility will. Machine learning, integration, analysis and neuroscience are the things that will enable this to reach its full potential.

Curation
The abundance of content creation, the lowering cost of access and the diversity of mediums has created a challenge for organisations wanting to tailor their learning experience. I believe that the role of a learning and development function within an organisation will NOT be to produce content but only to curate access to content and to report on its performance. The days of learning management systems in their current incarnation may well be numbered as people self-select what’s of most value to them in their life and role.
I’m excited about the prospect of guiding people to the best content available and then allowing them to consume and apply it without limits. When I look at how mobility and the other things I’ve mentioned here will affect what kinds of content are consumed and when, I imagine the cost of video will be falling and that gamification will become increasingly common.

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