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Will you survive the L&D technology revolution?


Will you survive the L&D technology revolution?

“Digital learning provides a higher return on investment than traditional approaches to knowledge and skills development. There are compelling reasons to reconsider digital learning as a tool for development in law firms. We have learned a lot since the days of dull, passive e-learning. New technologies and developments in learning theory are opening up exciting opportunities to make learning both powerful and personal.” (

Until recently the most sophisticated learning tool was the Powerpoint presentation, a revolutionary tool in its time but, in reality, only one step up from sitting at a desk studying a book. Online courses soon followed as the internet took hold, and there was a great deal of talk about online learning and development changing the world.

As it turned out, it didn't. But now there's a host of brand new and seriously innovative tech coming on board, a plethora of genuinely revolutionary ways to consume knowledge and impart information, and they're changing the face of L&D for good.

Magical HVL, face to face interaction in multiple places at the same time

Take HVL, a.k.a. Holographic Virtual Learning. How about a system where you can train your staff from anywhere in the world, all at the same time, all interacting face-to-face with their trainer? It sounds like sci-fi but it's already possible, and the tech behind it isn’t anywhere near as futuristic as you might imagine.

HVL is already revolutionising L&D for businesses. Take musicians the Gorillaz, always tech-savvy, and Madonna, both of whom have adopted the technology for their stage shows. Fashion designers are doing the same thing. And it's quickly filtering into the corporate arena too, with early adopters including blue chip businesses Cisco and Toyota.

It's L&D Jim, but not as we know it...

What's it like? Imagine watching a life sized 3D person interacting with graphics and images on stage, at exactly the same time across multiple locations. The presenter can easily appear in more than one place at the same time, something Star Trek's Captain James Kirk would probably appreciate.  

A holographic image of the presenter can be broadcast from anywhere in the world. The audience can ask questions and they'll get an instant answer, exactly as though the presenter was actually in the room. It's weird... but in a good way!

How come HVL is so powerful?

It's a human thing. There's nothing more compelling than person-to-person interaction, and it's a vital component of effective learning. It makes HVL's multiple human connections a very powerful learning tool, especially since research reveals face-to-face interactions during learning are much more productive and effective than sitting, half asleep, glazing over in front of a computer screen.

Of course HVCL is just one of many innovations driving the L&D revolution. But they all have the same effect: the way businesses work is changing in line, and it's changing fast. 

A new mind-set: less business driven, more people-driven

Most companies used to create then deliver training in the form of new knowledge or skills, either in a classroom setting or on the job. It was pretty restrictive in that people could only learn what the company offered.

These days learning disciplines like Embedded Performance Support provide the right information to the right people at the right time, as part of their everyday work flow. It's all about getting the information you need, when you need it, in the way you prefer to absorb it.  

Less centralised learning, more flexibility
Until recently computing and Learning Management systems were the way ahead, with L&D remaining at the centre of the process. Now the massive explosion of brilliantly innovative online learning resources means businesses benefit from an entirely new distributed learning environment where the traditional training model no longer applies.

In the last few years business leaders have been looking at creating a contemporary technical standard to support the new learning and performance landscape. April 2013 saw a step-change with the American DoD creating the Experience API e-learning technology specification to resolve matters. It helps different learning and performance systems talk to one another, and it means L&D can finally train, assess skills and demonstrate effectiveness actually within the employees’ natural workflow... for the first time.

A sea-change from enterprise to consumer

Today's employees can get equivalent or often better information from outside sources, more easily and faster than ever before. Which means the old standards of corporate L&D will remain under threat. And there are some interesting issues on the horizon. How, for instance, can ordinary L&D compete against an increasing number of highly immersive and extremely popular learning games? Is it possible, or even desirable to stick to traditional models when things are changing for good?

How do you survive in such a fast-paced L&D world?

The most successful professionals are embracing the revolution, not fighting it. These days you need an adventurous spirit, a willingness to grab technology-assisted learning and run with it, in support of the new ecosystem. As the Chinese say, we live in 'interesting' times!

What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below!
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