I love New Year’s resolutions. I like thinking about the new year and imagining the possibilities, and I love the ambition that accompanies an aggressive goal. Even more than that, I like building a plan to achieve the goal: a training plan for a half-marathon or a reading schedule for a book list gives me confidence I can accomplish the end goal. I know a lot of us are setting professional goals for 2019 that include some form of “build a stronger team” or “Improve my team’s communication, presentation, or problem-solving skills.” But a goal like that needs a clear plan, and it needs the tools to help achieve it. At TTA, we are here to help you build the plan and find the tools to accomplish those goals.
Recently, Michael Noble, our Chief Learning Strategist and COO, wrote about five strategies to help us focus on the needs of specific learners and teams. Building on that, I would like to address five trends for 2019 that will help us find new and better applications for technology:
1) Upcycling: You know those old pictures from high school with the cringe-worthy hairstyles? I’m not here to say anything bad about the Flock of Seagulls hairdo (lest one of my high school yearbook photos surface), but I’m not suggesting we bring back that trend, either. Sadly, much of our existing training hasn’t aged much better than the pastel sport coat with pushed-up sleeves. eLearning built in Flash was a great choice ten years ago, but holding onto it is no longer a long-term option. Flash is currently only used by 4% of websites, and it will be completely unsupported by Adobe and Microsoft by 2020.[i] We need to refresh this legacy training with new technology and design.
2) Responsive Design: Responsive design does not just mean your training will work on a mobile device; it means your training is designed for a mobile device. We’ve all gone to websites on our phones that seem to be just shrunken versions of the regular site, and the amount of zooming and scrolling required makes me a very cranky consumer. We don’t want our learners in this position, so we need to design for our mobile devices: fluid grid or column layouts, embedded media, and vertical scrolling make for a much better mobile training experience.
3) Human Cloud: Every team has a variety of training needs, but every team is also dealing with finite time and resources. One of the best ways to maximize those resources and give ourselves more time is to take advantage of the increasingly large human cloud. Approximately 30% of the workforce in the US and Europe works independently, and as many as 85% of business and IT organizations plan to add freelance workers to their teams in the next year.[ii] But there are risks to this approach: how can you ensure the quality of workers you don’t know well? An experienced staff augmentation broker can make the difference between adding freelance talent and adding the RIGHT freelance talent.
4) Macro/Micro: Microlearning has been on trends lists like this one for the last few years, and the reasons are clear: it works. Approximately, 94% of L&D professionals prefer it, and training is 50% more effective when delivered in short bursts.[iii] However, we want to be careful about making microlearning our only approach. Some training topics are more complex or connected to other concepts, and a slower, more deliberate approach will help learners see the full picture. The most important thing is to consider the skills and behaviors we want to change and determine if a micro or macro approach is the right one.[iv] A thoughtful learning strategy can be the key to success.
5) Immersives: Immersive technology is an increasingly common part of our lives as augmented reality, virtual reality, and 360 video enhance games, online shopping, and web-based training. The appeal of these technologies is obvious, but, like any cutting-edge tool, they must be used thoughtfully. Virtual reality, for instance, can provide a safe practice setting for manufacturing processes, but it can also overly complicate otherwise simple training interfaces. [v] Instructional designers who have experience with these tools can ensure their most effective use and avoid added expense where it’s not necessary.
As we look ahead at the year in front of us, we should be excited about the opportunities and aggressive about our goals. The way each company handles learning and development will be a big part of what can be accomplished over the next twelve months, and the tools and technologies described here can, if applied effectively, drive significant behavior change. At TTA, we can help you with the learning strategy, training delivery, and design to make the best of your L&D resources and accomplish your goals.