4 Learning Trends Emerging in the Digital Economy Age
I was in college during the Y2K boom and everyone thought that it was the end of the IT industry. Yet, when the dotcom bubble popped, the Indian IT industry was at the crux of its golden period. Between 2001 and 2007, various high value-add services such as consulting and system integrations emerged and this paved the way for global brands like Accenture, IBM, and GE to set up large operation teams in India.
The result of this transformation was the rising need for learning and development functions across enterprises. This change also prompted enterprises to focus on developing leadership teams; as a result, training became prevalent. Companies partnered with top business schools to enroll their senior leaders for executive leadership programs. Fresh graduates, mid-junior and mid-senior employees gained in-depth classroom training, which paved the way for online learning, giving working professionals the opportunity to learn at their own pace and gain new skills that would help them move up their career ladder.
Thanks to the internet and the e-commerce boom, online learning companies like Pluralsight, Coursera, Edx, Udacity and Simplilearn came into existence between 2005-2010, disrupting traditional training models. Thus, online learning became mainstream for individual and corporate learning.
Where Are We Today?
In the current business landscape, there is no alternative to digital disruption. Both individuals and enterprises must either adapt to these changes or perish. Digital technologies are already changing the way businesses function across domains. From engineering and sales to human resources, various processes have been automated, replacing humans with artificial intelligence and machine learning. This has created the need for professionals with specialized skills and expertise. According to World Economic Forum’s whitepaper on Digital Enterprises, technologies like cloud, AI, Big Data, cybersecurity and quantum computing are helping companies to drastically reduce costs up to 50 percent. This results in enhanced business impact and outcomes.
Per a Gartner study, the worldwide IT services market is forecasted to grow by 4.2 percent by the end of this year. Despite the disruptions caused by AI and automation, the IT/ITES fields are poised to grow further. The onus now lies with companies and individuals who need to adopt these digital technologies swiftly.
As CEOs and business leaders have started focusing on newer strategies to align their organizations with digital technologies, skill development has taken center stage in board room discussions. It is the responsibility of learning and development leaders, human resources and those in charge of digital transformation to build and shape an enterprise workforce that is ready for the transformation.
As organizations continue to emphasize the need to unlearn and relearn, several major trends have emerged that will shape professional training over the next few years.
New Training Trends
1. Outcome-based Learning
New technologies and online learning will transform the way in which universities deliver education. The speed of technological innovation will require higher education to adapt to newer learning methodologies and prepare students for job roles of the future.
Today, universities such as Harvard, Georgia Tech, and Duke University offer open certification programs that are aligned with industry requirements. These online programs are designed in partnership with EdTech companies like 2U, Udacity and Simplilearn to provide predominantly outcome-based learning programs that include hands-on practical learning tools that enable students to apply fresh skills to current and future jobs.
2. Investing in Continuous Learning
With automation and AI threatening some of today’s jobs, individuals need to rethink about their investments in their career development. Learning organizations are now personalizing education to ensure that students are constantly motivated and are driven towards a culture of continuous learning. Features such as peer learning through community forums, teaching assistance, and mentorship are great methods to help students complete courses successfully.
Employees need to be constantly engaged in order to increase their productivity levels and affinity towards their workplace. If employees feel positive about their contributions and are connected with their work, they are more likely to continue to invest time and energy into the company. This leads to higher employee retention rates. Similarly, learning programs with high-quality e-learning content need to be complemented by elements that make learning engaging and effortless. Gamified learning makes the experience fun and rewarding, and can inspire a healthy, competitive spirit among peers within an organization that motivates them to enjoy their training achievements followed by exciting rewards.
Another new trend in corporate training is the use of bite-sized learning modules. Microlearning involves small, specific bursts of content with one clear learning pathway. Breaking up long, in-depth lessons into small, digestible chunks is perfect for keeping employees engaged during longer, conventional e-learning modules.
Modern learning has evolved from the traditional classroom training for large groups of employees. Technology has helped learning to become on-demand, personalized and experiential.
The latest generation in the workforce is comprised of millennials, a group that has come to expect easy access to the latest technology, a constant stream of new data from various devices and a wide variety of learning choices.
I have been closely associated with the EdTech ecosystem for over a decade now, and have personally watched as new learning innovations unfold. As these technologies and the new generation flood the workforce, I can only say that learning is going to continue to get a lot more exciting in the future and we’re thrilled to be at the forefront.
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