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How the fourth industrial revolution is impacting L&D

Experts say that the next decade will be a disruptive one for the economy, our society, and our culture. In some respects, things have begun to undergo a rapid change, with the Covid-19 pandemic being an accelerator in this process. Word Economic Forum specialists have identified the major trends that will occur in the near future and their spillover effect across industries and government.

It goes without saying that the learning and development industry will also need to change to keep up with trends embraced by potential clients.

Read more: 6 Challenges L&D will have to overcome in 2021

Let’s see what the future has in store for us!

Frontier technologies

New materials, an entirely different Internet (the Internet of Things), widespread use of Virtual and Augmented Reality, quantum computing. All these frontier technologies will have a major presence in our daily lives and change how we work, travel, and learn. They will have an impact across industries and force all stakeholders to adapt to the new circumstances.

Virtual and Augmented Reality will undoubtedly become important in the learning and development industry. I can imagine myself having an avatar trainer available whenever I have some free time to learn something new. I can envision a scenario in which a virtual tutor will help attendees after face-to-face sessions and be available when human trainers are not.

Read more: 4 Benefits of using VR in training

Technology access and inclusion

Technology should be widely available (and cheaper) if we want more people to benefit from it. There is still a wide gap among more affluent and more impoverished countries concerning the use of technology. For example, the iPhone X index shows that if you live in Kyiv (Ukraine), you need to work more than 700 hours to afford the gadget. If you live in Los Angeles, you only need to work 50 hours. The same goes for other devices.

This gap will deepen if inclusion and availability do not become a top priority. Depriving entire populations of access to certain technologies is, in fact, depriving all of us of talent that could be otherwise contributing to global innovation.

Accessibility is also an issue and will be a priority for major tech giants. Microsoft is working with several organizations to address the “digital desert” and represent people with disabilities.

Read more: Making new tech accessible in your company

Agency and trust

After the recent social media scandals and subsequent Congressional hearings, it became clear that some kind of regulatory measure needs to be imposed. On the one hand, the public sphere should be completely free, as free speech is at the very core of democracy. On the other hand, tech giants (including social media platforms) are private companies that impose their own rules and policies, and they can ban users who refuse to comply.

People should trust technology and see it as a tool for a better, fairer, more inclusive society, not as a menace to their way of life. This is why building trust is a key issue that needs to be addressed by social media platforms and companies that use AI (banking and capital markets, healthcare, education, etc.).

Read more: The trifecta of trust in a learning organization

Ethics and identity

With all these changes to come, ethics and identity have become core issues as well. Is a new set of values necessary for the new media? What is the impact of a widely spread entertainment culture? For example, is infotainment more info or more entertainment? Up to what point is it moral to use biotechnology, such as CRISPR? How can we use behavioral sciences without becoming manipulative? What will our educational system look like in the era of AI and algorithms?

These questions and their answers will define the world we will live and learn in during the next decade. As trainers and educators, we should prepare for the next advances in our society.

Read more: What’s in store for the future of training: the intelligent learning platform

Final remarks

At the beginning of the 20th century, futurologists imagined a world full of flying cars, underwater cities, and daily moon landings. We are not there yet, but who knows what our world will look like a century from now? Meanwhile, we should prepare for the next decade and for the significant trends that it will bring. And prepare others for the coming changes. After all, this is what the learning and development industry is all about: constant learning and lifelong education.

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