Let me tell you some interesting conversations I have recently had with two people I know in the L&D industry – both of them run their own companies in the L&D space. While the former is a young 35+ year old, the latter is quite a veteran with over 25 years of experience. I met them recently and asked both of them the same question – what are the key changes that the L&D industry is facing? Both of them had contrasting answers. While both of them spoke about the increasing challenge of keeping learners engaged and making learning sticky (given that the Gen-Y workforce is much more stressed and has shorter attention spans), the solutions spoken about were very different. The young guy spoke passionately about
- Gamification – for creating engaging learning outcomes
- Anytime/ anywhere learning platforms – using mobiles/ tabs/ flexible curriculum that blends easily with current lifestyles
The more experienced (and traditional?) guy spoke about the following
- Personalised and meaningful learning experiences – Outbounds/ Coaching etc which immerse the learner completely in the learning process
- Leveraging on-job learning opportunities – through Action Learning Projects, Peer Learning Sessions etc
I have been left wondering about who had a more appropriate view and the more I think, I believe that what they talked about were not two different things at all. Gamification makes any learning experience personalized and anywhere/anytime learning enables learning outcomes to get captured while on-the job. Let me give you an example. Suppose a retail chain is looking at developing visual merchandising skills for its store managers. One solution would be to create an online game which is accessible from any smart phone and can be played by the managers at any time. Another solution can be to take the managers through an intense classroom program followed by action learning projects where they implement learnings and track progress. Both approaches have their own merits and demerits. And probably the best solution would be to blend the two approaches to create a holistic learning experience which is suited to all learner types. Lets examine the following learning plan 1) Games and quizzes to pique learner interest before the program 2) Intensive classroom immersion programs 3) On-job learning projects where the learner applies learnings 4)Online learning games/ quizzes/ badges etc. which support the learner during the project
Apart from the completeness of the learning journey, what this approach ensures is that there are several data points available to track the progress of the learner and introduce mid-course corrections if needed. The journey for most L&D organizations such as ours in 2015 is going to be a volatile and exciting one. Constant change, preserving the best techniques from the past while reinventing redundant ones would be what would make us stay relevant.