Information Technology

Why businesses need to be maximising workplace learning technology

By Elliot Gowans, VP EMEA, D2L
Information Technology
Published: 13 March 2018

Today’s employees are eager to learn, and want a modern learning experience that utilises the most up-to-date technology and offers them the flexibility to learn from anywhere. These factors are even starting to impact their decisions when accepting a new job. In fact, our recent research found that 38 percent of employees would consider the quality of employee training when offered a job.

Workplace learning is increasingly regarded as significant to an individual’s continued professional development (CPD), which is holding more and more importance for employees ⎯ particularly younger generations, or millennials, who are entering the workforce.

As employees become increasingly connected to each other and company information through modern technology, they have reset their expectations around when, where and how they learn. According to our research, 78 percent of employees believe it is important that their employer is leveraging new technologies. The modern workplace environment is evolving to include more field and remote workers, which means training increasingly needs to be accessible whenever and wherever employees need it ⎯ and technology plays a big part in making this happen.

Blending the learning experience
Modern employees are also embracing new digital learning programmes and models. Indeed, our research revealed that 41 percent of employees want their employer to use blended learning, which combines online and traditional methods. Often involving the use of video and e-portfolios, as well as face-to-face tutoring, blended learning enables the learner to drive his or her learning experience. It utilises technology, but still includes the human element.

A common problem is that there can often be a disconnect between what employees want from a corporate learning experience, and what businesses believe is important. Indeed, 68 percent of employees currently think video is an important learning tool, yet only half of organisations are using video for activities, such as employee coaching.

It’s fair to say that implementing blended learning is a daunting task, but it can be made easier with technology such as learning experience platforms. These give organisations an efficient, effective tool to create differentiated learning without sacrificing the face-to-face instruction that is also vital to success.

Mobile learning is the future
Workplace learners expect to be able to access learning experiences anywhere, at any time, and on multiple devices. According to Google, 40 percent of people only search on a smartphone in an average day, 80 percent use a smartphone, and 57 percent use more than one type of device. What’s attractive about mobile learning is the easy access and flexibility it gives the user. Our future workforce is one of the most tech-savvy groups; they don’t need to adapt to technology as they grew up immersed in it. Despite this, only 30 percent of UK organisations are implementing mobile learning in their L&D programmes.

Mobile learning, however, is a natural option for a modern-day workplace as it enables employees to take control of when and where they learn, which makes it a much more engaging learning experience. They can access learning materials and start an activity on their laptop, before easily switching to their tablet or smartphone without missing a beat. Harnessed effectively, mobile learning can improve employee performance and engagement, which is why it’s become increasingly incumbent on organisations to enable it.

Learning to adapt or adapting to learn?
Finally, the research revealed that 27 percent of employees in the UK would like to take advantage of adaptive learning, a personalised learning approach that adapts in real-time to the individual employee’s capabilities. Indeed, with each employee having different skillsets and varied needs, personalising the learning experience for such a diverse workforce is a Herculean task. Therefore, it’s not surprising that adaptive learning is becoming one of the most talked about technologies in the corporate learning sector. What we are seeing now through emerging technology is the streamlining of time and resource allocation, and the ability to adapt and change course delivery, content and style in tune with the needs of the individual learner.

Modern workplace learning has evolved and learning programmes can no longer simply be a box for a company to check. In an increasingly dynamic world of work that is requiring the development of all sorts of new skills, knowledge is at a premium. Employees increasingly want to see proof that businesses are prioritising an L&D programme that incorporates innovative, modern-day technology and delivers a tailored learning experience that will further their individual development. Employees ultimately view learning to be an integral part of their job, and they want employers to offer a modern approach to it.

By recognising the importance of employee learning – and understanding the repercussion of outdated L&D – businesses will have a much better chance of boosting employee engagement, productivity and loyalty.