The business world is tough, and the L&D part of it makes no exception. Instructional designers need to pay great attention to the workplace learning environment if they want to create successful online training that engages the learners and impacts the business in a positive way.
They are like sailors navigating through rough waters and they need to overcome all challenges that the three major currents throw at them. Only the best survive and reach their destination of successful training. And when they do, they set sail to the next journey. After all, a calm sea never makes great sailors.
The three major currents that can make or break the online courses are: technology advances, business needs, and learner demands. Let's take them one by one and see what can instructional designers do to be on top of them every time?
Current #1: Technology advancements
We live in a digital revolution.
To every tiny bit of our lives, there is a digital counterpart. We used to go from one department to another to have a chat with a certain co-worker; now we drop them a line on Skype. We used to hail a taxi to take us to a client meeting; now we tap on the Uber app and arrive there in style. You get the point; things change, and they change fast.
The training courses of today are so different from what they used to be just a few years ago: cloud-based LMSs, perfect synchronization of learning materials, machine learning, responsive design, the dance between SCORM, xApi, and CMI-5.
Just look at all the industry trends and take the pulse of what's to come in workplace learning: a bigger adoption of the cloud, interactive videos, augmented reality, personalized learning experiences.
Learning technology is evolving under our eyes, and L&D professionals need to keep up with this current.
However, this doesn't mean that they should chase after all industry trends and try to be the best of everything. And this brings us to
Current #2: Business needs
Before jumping to the latest AR technology, or planning a social learning program, L&D professionals need to first assess how any new trend will impact the business. The decision about the best mix of training techniques should be made with the organizational learning needs in mind, and how can they be achieved, not with the latest cool thing the e-learning industry is talking about.
Making SWOT analysis and setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound objectives for internal learning is always a good way to start. Continuous analysis of training data will help making all the necessary tweaks and adjustments along the way. The final reports of the training program will cast the light over its efficiency in terms of better sales, customer retention, or other of the set objectives.
The business needs set the destination; instructional designers must keep this in mind at all times during their journey.
Current #3: Learners' demands
You can't really teach someone who doesn't want to be taught, can you?
The modern employee is as sophisticated as ever. It's no surprise their demands are high.
Learners expect easily available and relevant training, content that is bite-sized and always up-to-date, instant feedback, and the looks and feels of their modern apps and games. They want more control over their learning experience, from when and how much time they devote to training, to what devices they use to access it.
They know they are a cog in the system, but they also expect a certain type of oil for better productivity. Personalization really is a key word in the future of learning and development programs.
Instructional designers should listen to what their learners have to say, and focus on their needs while creating all courses and learning materials. This is a sure way to catch their attention and making them wanting to be taught.
Navigating through the three currents towards successful training
Of course, technology advancements, business needs, and learners' demands are intertwined like the waters of all rivers in the sea. It takes great skills to understand them and use them well to reach the destination of successful training.
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