Innovation within L&D

9 Jun, 2022Hallie Engel

Learning and development isn’t what it used to be – and that’s a good thing

In the past, your team members probably rolled their eyes when told about a learning and development initiative. They knew it meant spending hours in a conference room listening to a droning speaker go through a series of forgettable slides. The only thing to look forward to was coffee, cookies and the moment when class was dismissed and they could leave. 

We’re happy to say that these days are in the past – as long as you want them to be. Innovations ranging from the latest tech to updated learning approaches are transforming the way we grow and develop new skills. They deliver considerable benefits, including increased rates of retention, satisfaction and engagement, and offer an enjoyable experience for learners. 

Take a look at some of the trends we see shaping the future of learning and discover what they can do for your team. 

Learning in the flow of work

Traditionally, learning was done separately from work. Participants went somewhere, listened to a presenter and tried to absorb information, only to discover that it disappeared quickly. Learning in the flow of work is changing the narrative, though. Even busy people can squeeze in learning time when training is offered on their laptops through channels like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Collaborating and communicating with other learners becomes more convenient, too. 

And the results are promising. According to Forbes, employees who spend time learning at work are 39% more likely to feel successful and productive than people who don’t. They’re also 47% less likely to be stressed. Most importantly, learning in the flow of work means people have direct access to the information they need at any time, not just when class is in session. 

The rebirth of virtual reality

Over the years, virtual reality has had an interesting trajectory. It was hyped as the next big thing in the 90s, and then largely dropped out of sight. Bulky headsets, poor graphics and high prices probably had something to do with it. But advancements in technology have made virtual reality accessible and relevant. By offering learners an immersive, interactive experience, it lets them learn by doing, which boosts retention. Distractions, like texts and emails, fade away as well. 

VR also provides a chance to handle challenging situations in a setting that closely resembles reality. For example, virtual reality training might prepare a learner for a difficult experience (like delivering a less than stellar performance review) so that when it happens on the job, they’re ready. By simulating what it’s like to have a disability or face discrimination, VR can also create empathy

Many people feel safer in a simulated environment. Making mistakes or dealing with an uncomfortable subject can be intimidating in a classroom full of learners. But when the audience is gone, it’s easier to take risks without letting a fear of failure or embarassment get in the way. 

Turn things around with a flipped classroom 

Classroom learning has been the norm since the dawn of time, but the flipped classroom is changing this tired approach for the better. It centers on introducing learners to the content beforehand, giving them a chance to soak it up whenever and wherever works best for them. 

And when they do enter the classroom, they’re equipped with new knowledge that simply needs to be activated. They can dive into interactive activities, like quizzes and role playing, instead of staring out the window and checking their phones. The educator transforms from a lecturer into a guide who helps them apply concepts and engage creatively with the subject matter. Collaboration increases, students take responsibility for their success and time is used productively.

Gamification really delivers 

Everyone loves playing games and there are upsides to making L&D training feel like one. The concept is simple – just add gamified elements to a learning experience. That could mean a system for accruing points, levels to progress through or rewards for completing certain tasks. 

By releasing neurotransmitters that help people feel happy, gamification makes it easier for them to enjoy what they’re doing. And since humans are hardwired to repeat actions that release brain chemicals like dopamine and serortonin, they’re more likely to use what they learned in training in the hopes of achieving that same sense of satisfaction. There’s no need to stop the gamification experience at learning, either. One study found that combining it with work can increase engagement by up to 60%.

Spaced repetition updates an old classic 

You’ve probably been learning through repetition since childhood. Whether it was geography or multiplication tables, repeating information – over and over again – is a common approach.

However, making things stick can prove incredibly difficult. After all, can you still name all of the world capitals or multiply numbers without needing a calculator? Spaced repetition makes things easier, though. Distributing learning over time softens the forgetting curve and helps people hold onto information for longer, even if they spend less time overall developing new knowledge.

And don’t write off the time between lessons – it’s incredibly important. During these gaps, the info sinks into learners’ memories. They begin seeing how it applies to their roles and they can start trying to use new skills and concepts.