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5 ways technology is enhancing learning and development opportunities

by Arthur Zuckerman

Large organisations often struggle with implementing learning and development schemes across multiple sites. Technology is evolving constantly, allowing people to access learning across different time zones. What’s more this means people can absorb new knowledge during the time period when they are most likely to learn effectively. For example, those who are ‘night owls’ or ‘morning larks’ may be more alert in the morning or early evening depending on their sleep chronotype.

Going one step further live translation software can support multi-national organisations with more than one native language. This can also be used before a virtual session where live speech has been translated from English into Spanish captions or where speaking is dubbed. ElevenLabs is one such tool that can help with voice synthesising and live translations.

The importance of continuous learning in a multi-site company

Learning at Work Week 2024 celebrated Learning Power and the influence this can have on organisations in terms of helping their people to grow, connect and engage. 

Renowned investor Warren Buffet emphasizes the importance of continuous learning, which aligns with the benefits of using advanced technology for education. Continuous learning is increasingly important as 63% of millennials feel they lack leadership development. What’s more leadership skills can have a deep impact on company culture.  Company culture is built on behaviours and embedding a learning culture is key to this. Hybrid working has many benefits, but this is also causing social disconnection. This effect is heightened when you have teams across multiple sites working at home and in the workplace. Therefore, learning across organisations can have a big effect when you utilise technology effectively.

The power of blended learning

Blended learning describes the practice of utilising technology and human elements of teaching with both online and face-to-face teaching methods.

Blended learning offers many companies the best of both worlds especially when coupled with the expertise of people from psychologists, coaches and facilitators.

Bringing complex organisations together is considerably difficult so using technology to utilise face-to-face and onscreen ways of learning can increase employee engagement and boost innovation in businesses.

“My favourite thing about blended learning is that it allows face-to-face workshops to be much more practice-focused making it a more effective use of everyone’s time. Rather than delegates sitting and having theories and models explained to them they arrive ready to practice and develop their skills!” Jordan Bernard Designed4Success

The mix can also help organisations to save costs; face-to-face teaching requires travel costs and limits the availability of courses. Online learning can be created to be on demand allowing expertise to spread more widely.

Employees can also choose their favourite medium to learn by, whether this is a podcast on Spotify, an audiobook, a YouTube video, a long-form blog or a book. 

In summary, blended learning affords greater accessibility to all types of learners and neurodiverse people too.

Blended learning facts

Here’s some useful facts about blended learning.

  • Learning in university settings – Data from 50 of the 160 universities surveyed shows 28% of courses were being taught in a hybrid way 2023-2024, compared with 4.1% in 2018-19 before the pandemic.
  • Increased engagement – Students are more motivated when using blended learning models 
  • High-order abilitiesBlended learning could also enhance high-order abilities such as communication, problem-solving, and reasoning skills.

The pick and mix of paid and free resources

Many organisations will use a mixed blend of paid sessions, and full programmes which implement technology, along with taking advantage of free development sessions from organisations.

Online learning offers multiple different media for learning

The boom in hybrid working has become the new normal for recruiters and as a result it’s imperative that L&D teams take remote working and distributed teams into account.

When facilitators and coaches are looking to explain a model, they can use animations and provide captions with additional AI integrations for images and text, making these processes far more efficient so the focus can be on design and complex content. Tools such as Zapier can also help with integration with other platforms. 

What’s more adjustable video speeds can make things far more accessible for the audience. You can also create a downloadable transcript for those that prefer to read using tools (Descript for example).

This enables teams to be fully accessible to all types of learners, ensuring accommodations for neurodiverse people too.

It’s also vitally important that soft skills play a role. In fact, 80% of surveyed professionals said that the lack of soft skills is the common denominator in many situations where unsuitable candidates are hired into job roles. 

Technology is increasingly being used in more creative ways, for example a visual art exhibit “The Portal” paired New York and Dublin with a giant screen and video camera to livestream each city enabling visitors to interact with each other in real time! In essence a giant international video call. Of course, new tech such as this comes with its own challenges including user error and misuse, in this case The Portal faced controversy after people started using it inappropriately.

Customer service learning techniques

The innovations in tech are also changing the way companies can teach their customers how to use software and platforms. For example, through chatbots or Loom videos

Enhanced Analytics – The importance of learning feedback

It’s important to use analytics when it comes to employee feedback for learning initiatives and there are different elements of this:

Quantitative – For example, counting how many people in your organisation completed certain online courses. Online learning allows you to track how many people in your organisation are completing learning modules. You can also go one step further and track the engagement level of people during a course for example dwell time on certain slides. 

You can also implement learning modules for onboarding processes such as H&S. This tactic is speeding up HR processes in organisations, particularly in situations where people don’t need to be physically trained by a person for safety reasons. Quizzes at the end of courses can help test knowledge and engagement too. 

If you’re provided content to employers or clients on a website you can also use tools such as EyeQuant before launch, where the tool mimics user experience to a certain level of accuracy to test if the content will have the desired effect and adapt accordingly.

Statistical – You can also ask your participants or cohorts questions before and after courses to gather analytics for L&D. For example, for a wellbeing at work course for leaders you could ask “Do you feel comfortable holding a wellbeing conversation with a member of your team?” The L&D team could then later provide the statistics such as this:

An increase from 52%-93% of leaders within the organisation now feel comfortable holding a wellbeing conversation with a team-member.” 

This allows L&D teams to share how the learning is having an immediate effect. 

Qualitative – Ask employees how they feel about the learning by providing boxes to make suggestions. This means you can uncover more thoughts that aren’t covered by multi-choice feedback. Or, in some cases carry out face-to-face interviews and record and transcript these using the tools mentioned earlier.

Results-Focused – It’s important to link learning to the success of the business, especially when learning takes place during working hours. Learning initiatives need buy-in from senior leadership teams and stakeholders. For example, you can review sales figures before and after customer service training. Ensure you take into account market influences too. For example, if most sales for the company happen at Christmas and the new training takes place in January this may not be a fair comparison. 

All of the above methods allow organisations, and external partners such as organisational development companies, to adapt content on a continual basis, ultimately enhancing the learning experience and improving outcomes.

Combating the hidden dangers of technology

One of the things which organisations will want to consider is the ethical use of technology. The 2024 theme for International HR Day was ‘HR Shaping the Future’ with the sub themes: Ethical use of technology and AI, future workplaces, people leadership & continued innovation in skills and education. 

Organisations have found that using AI in the right way can speed up efficiency and help teams enhance their skills, however it’s vital that organisations work closely with HR teams to ensure they have full visibility on how AI is being used in their organisation whether that’s for learning or completing tasks. 

Seemingly innocent technology such as voice synthesizers which mimic your voice may seem like a great way to add a personal touch to your learning but if your ‘voice’ falls into the wrong hands this can be used for fraud, so AI policies and caution are an essential part of introducing new technology into an organisation’s learning practices. 

The boom in Learning apps

 From Miro to Stormboard, organisations and employees alike are taking advantage of learning apps. Apps like these allow people to contribute in real-time during development sessions: To chronicle their progress, add thoughts, ideas and commitments, and revisit when needed.

Here’s a look at the 8 best learning apps of 2024 according to LimeWire:

  • Khan Academy – Tutor-style app that uses visual aids 
  • Duolingo – For learning languages with social media elements and multiple exercises
  • Codecademy – In-depth programme language learning experience
  • EdX – Takes real courses from US online 
  • Nasa – Provides astronomy based learning and stargazing guide
  • TED– Well known for its short talks about innovative new ideas
  • Memrise – Great for learning languages through memory devices
  • Brilliant – Great for logic puzzle solving in a novel way.

Duolingo has over 193,445,000 downloads in 2022 alone!

Technology for learning and development

In summary technology offers huge opportunities for learning and development especially for remote teams and multi-national organisations. It’s important to maintain the human element of your learning plan, build a learning culture and measure results; to get the most out of learning and development within an organisation or for your own pursuits.

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