I've written a few articles recently about what blended learning is and in them I shared some rather disheartening conversations and observations I've had in the last year about the state of corporate training. In summary, what I've learned is that organizations are still trying to find their footing when it comes to training their employees for a few reasons:
- Training that is all instructor-led is not always practical.
- On-demand training (i.e.: videos or "Click Next") often goes unfinished or ignored.
- The "a little of each" blended approach is not pragmatic because it doesn't solve the intrinsic problems with the modes involved (see above).
Since time - not necessarily the desire to learn - is a big inhibitor to effective training programs, many companies are turning to gamification. A big driver to this thinking is, "If we can make learning more fun and interactive, people will be more inclined to do it." An added benefit to gamification is that it provides the opportunity to make the learning more practical. Let's stop talking about how to defend against a cyber-attack, instead let's do it against an opponent while racing against time and competing for points. That sounds infinitely more engaging and useful, doesn't it? Further still, people like being rewarded. Delivering training (or anything) to people where they get a) instant feedback and b) the opportunity to share proof of their success has a much higher likelihood of sustained learner engagement.
While gamification might incline more learners to make/take the time to pursue training, it doesn't solve the problem of the company's time. I can hear it now: Yeah, we'd all like to manage our virtual theme parks all day... but I'm gonna need you to get back to work.
So what IS the answer?
One of my L&D idols, Josh Bersin has talked a lot in the past year about learning in the flow of work (If you are reading this, Mr. Bersin, please feel free to contact me via any channel 😊). If you aren't familiar with this concept, as the name suggests, it's all about meeting learners where they are without disrupting the... flow... of the work. As your put your finishing touches on your Google Slides, wouldn't it be cool if Google recommended design and presentation tips based on your work when it notices your work slowing? After you wrap up a sales call, wouldn't it be nice for your CRM to remind you of the few talking points you missed? As you near the time for your PMP renewal, wouldn't it be handy if your phone or a desktop-integrated LMS reminded you that you had 3 PDUs left to acquire before the end of the month and served up some suggested training events in the open spots of your calendar?
These ideas rely on sophisticated AI and our collective willingness to embrace it. But are users ready for a less annoying but WAY more intelligent Microsoft paperclip following them around and offering suggestions before they realize the need it? How many organizations are going to be willing to offer video, audio, key and eye-tracking at everyone's computers or company issued devices? As is customary with emerging technologies, my prediction is: not many. But it certainly does seem that those who do not make the leap, will be left in the dust.