It’s 2017. Up to 74% of organisations use some form of learning technology. 57% believe developments in mobile learning will have the greatest impact on the Learning & Development profession in the next five years. What does that mean for L&D practitioners?

Richard Wood

Richard Wood is a British Organisational Psychologist working for Celemi in Shanghai. His work focuses on making change happen through engaging learning solutions and serious fun. Here he gives his take on L&D 4.0 – The Rise of the Digital Revolution. 

Celemi is currently conducting research into the developments in this digital revolution. We are starting with a China-focused investigation, including a series of face-to-face interviews and an online survey.

Many people have already shared their views, for which we are very grateful. As the research process has gained more momentum, we have observed a slight surge in resistance to the adoption of digital tools in L&D. For the purposes of this article, we shall label individuals holding these views as dissidents and counter-revolutionaries!

I have chosen three direct quotes from different dissidents as a starting point for us to shed the objectivity of the researcher and state the case of the pro-digital revolution camp. Let’s get to it.

The Sensationalist:

The classroom-based trainer is becoming an endangered species

Revolutionary Response: I remember using acetates and an overhead projector to deliver training. PowerPoint and modern projectors became mainstream and made our lives easier. I believe digital tools will do the same, if trainers evolve their practices to include technology. Blended learning is going to be the future. There is potential for the classroom component of training to become more focused, more dynamic and more interactive through the use of technology to prepare, assess and challenge the learners. Survival of the fittest will come into play, if you are not suited to the modern training environment then you might become extinct.

The Traditionalist:

Digital tools are nothing more than e-versions of traditional materials

Revolutionary Response: In terms of the e-learning materials of days gone by, I totally agree. However, adding an eBook to a website is no longer what we are talking about. A wave of online and app-based solutions that engage and challenge the learner in bite-sized learning sessions is upon us. The gamification of learning goes well beyond reading while sitting on the bus or subway. Live challenges and/or collaboration with other learners adds social and competitive elements to the learning experience. I am confident that these digital tools will successfully bring the power of learning and serious fun to learners at anytime and anywhere. People look at their smartphone nine times an hour! Imagine if some of that was for job-related learning.

The Separatist:

Digital learning is only for Silicon Valley start-ups and gadget geeks

Revolutionary Response: I don’t even know what a gadget geek is nowadays. A very large majority of professionals live in a highly connected world, so why not leverage the continued fascination with technology to support the development of people? Granted, Silicon Valley does lead the way in many aspects of innovation, but that does not give them exclusive access to the use of new technology. In fact, as the development of digital tools accelerates, the associated costs will come down and give more individuals the chance to access learning on the go. All this will be courtesy of those ‘geeks’ and their gadgets.

Richard  welcome all comments on his responses above and on the use of digital tools in learning and development contexts. Long live the digital learning revolution!

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