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Where is Learning Headed?

Amidst the ongoing discussions about ‘what the future will bring’ post COVID-19, I’ve naturally been thinking about what the future of learning will look like.

- Will classroom training be a thing of the past?

- Will eLearning become more creative and less ‘objective’-driven?

- Will immerging technologies finally gain a foothold as primary learning tools?

The short answer is (of course) no one knows. But we can certainly plan for what will likely happen and we can hope for what should.

I ‘cut my teeth’ as a classroom facilitator and frankly, the times I get in front of a room, however rare, are still the times when I’m at my professional happiest. So, do I think there will always be a place for classroom programming… Yes. But not for a while. I suspect getting people in close quarters for a ‘class’ will be very difficult and may potentially even fly in the face of some (yet to be determined) health and safety standards.

So, what about eLearning? Not exactly ‘new technology’ in this day and age – but yet too often still viewed as boring, unengaging and required – instead of desired.

One of my great hopes for eLearning (irrespective of COVID-19) has always been a change in the way we build and use it. I’ve longed for an approach that is more akin to a marketing campaign versus the current model of painfully forcing every ounce of knowledge into a single module, while carefully ensuring each nugget maps neatly back to prescribed learning objectives. This has never been how people learn. We learn when we are engaged; and we learn over time, not in one-offs (think about all those years of school).

I know that digital learning will launch to the forefront of strategies for organizations – and it should. It is effective as both a primary and sustainment learning vehicle. But as this ‘situation’ unfolds, I believe there is a real opportunity to approach eLearning differently – as a journey with maximum creativity and engagement and not a one-time event that ‘checks all the boxes’.

Finally – what about more emerging technologies. Those that have not been readily embraced, like VR, 360 videos, gaming, AR etc. These all fit into my comments about eLearning and creativity. I hope our new view of learning takes into account the need for a creative experience that utilizes multiple mediums to drive interest and ongoing training. That each of these tools can make education of staff – wait for it – FUN. Fun equals interest, interest equals a desire to absorb that which is being taught.

How novel would that be? A new approach to learning resulting from this chaos that treats the internal staff, like the outside client… someone worthy of multiple touchpoints and interactions.


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