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5 learning trends you can’t ignore in 2017

Kerry Pascall

2016 has been a year of political upheaval and the loss of a number of beloved celebrities, so it’s no surprise that on December 31st many people will be eager to slam the door shut on a difficult twelve months! Even in learning and development, 2016 has been challenging, with many organisations struggling to know how to adapt beyond traditional learning methods and being reluctant to commit financial resources to L&D spending.

It would be wrong, however, to suggest that the challenges of 2016 have slowed the pace of change. As professional environments become more social and technology advances rapidly, 2017 could be a year of exciting learning opportunities.

With this in mind, I am already planning for exciting changes and challenges ahead and I am looking forward to the new year. Here are the five big trends that I’m most intrigued by in 2017, and how I expect each to evolve in the coming year.

5. Blockbuster Videos
Despite claims that video is a new or innovative technique, it has actually been a widespread tool in professional learning environments since the 1950’s! What is changing rapidly is learners’ relationship with visual media.

We watch more video than ever before in human history. Cisco estimates that visual media accounts for 80% of internet traffic and nearly a million minutes of video are shared every second.[1] In short, your learners watch a lot of stuff.

As such, video in 2017 faces a challenge to be memorable amidst this sea of content! It should therefore contain clear messages to demonstrate specific points, utilise innovative presentation techniques, and fit with other emerging learning trends.

Why not try live video streaming through platforms such as Periscope or Facebook? Live video allows live feedback and interaction with learners without the formality of a webinar. Similarly, social learning is growing exponentially, meaning that learners have a growing interest in sharing videos. Shorter length videos are much more likely to be shared, as are those which really bring a point to life or are humorous!

4. Micro-waves
It’s not just videos getting shorter. We’ve all experienced the growing rapidity of working life, and the increasingly frantic pace of many professional environments will leave learners with little opportunity to engage with lengthy courses or programmes in 2017.

Microlearning is a response to this, with small, accessible pieces of content designed to be consumed wherever and whenever learners can. I think that the best learning and development opportunities in 2017 will utilise microlearning techniques using concise, potent and interactive content that minimises the reading burden on learners.

Microlearning links seamlessly with mobile learning and the use of wearable technology to provide a really adaptable learning experience. Ideally, this should be supported by a framework of alternative, traditionally structured learning opportunities to create optimised blended learning which appeals to all types of learners.

3. Blenders
Bray Leino Learning love Blended Learning, and it’s something we write about extensively. Blending occurs when learning incorporates a range of delivery methods to engage learners and works best when using theories such as 70-20-10 to guide learning delivery methods, ensuring that learners can access learning in a variety of ways.

This means not only being creative with the types of content we generate, but also strategically choosing delivery methods which are best suited to individual topics. In fact, as my colleague Stephanie Morgan suggests, building an optimised blended learning experience is often like attempting to bake the perfect cake!

With each year bringing a greater number of millennial workers into the workforce, learner engagement is a growing challenge. I see this continuing in 2017, placing greater pressure on L&D professionals to blend effectively.

2. W-earning?
Wearable technology is on the rise. With devices such as Google Glass and Apple Watch allowing wearers to access the internet and media content without even reaching for their phone, many people are asking how learning professionals can make use of this new tech. In fact, beyond the initial excitement and novelty of new devices, ‘wearable learning’ is actually an extension of mobile learning.

I believe many L&D professionals are still battling to make mobile learning work. Modules are often too complicated or too large to be accessed on a mobile phone, and the logistical complexities of formatting eLearning for the huge variety of devices is a massive burden on already stretched resources.

Whilst 2017 may see much discussion of wearable technology and its uses in L&D, it’s clear that we need to successfully utilise mobile learning’s potential first and not run before we can walk! In order to make use of wearable technology, therefore, it is important to produce microlearning resources which are better suited to mobile learning and create social features and environments which break learning from its static foundations.

1. Social (media) learning
You’ll like this. Possibly literally.

Just as this article may be shared, liked and interacted with on social media, the same is probably true of your learning content. Facebook recently announced that their global audience spends an average of 50 minutes a day on their site, and those numbers increase rapidly with younger users.[2] So, as younger learners join your workforce throughout 2017, they will have an increasing reliance on social media to facilitate social learning. Given the importance which the 70-20-10 model gives social learning, it’s vital to construct content which can be shared and platforms on which to do so.

How?

Good question! Social learning is often undertaken through informal or unofficial channels, as learners are reluctant to broadcast their learning requirements. Altering this requires the longstanding cultivation of an open and supportive learning culture. In an online environment, the creation of supportive social media spaces such as LinkedIn and WhatsApp groups are great starts, but need your organisation’s leaders to be heavily involved to break the taboo of asking for help!

‘Doing a 2017’
Despite seemingly having little in common, my five trends for 2017 actually lend themselves to a holistic approach of embracing the oncoming changes in the L&D environment. Even the emergence of wearable technology requires consideration of the availability of microlearning resources and suitable video and audio resources that can be accessed ‘on-the-go’.

These types of resources also naturally lend themselves to being shareable and engaging via social media, fulfilling the growing need amongst learners for responsive and bespoke answers to problems through an online community.

In short, 2017 looks to be a year of connected trends which are collectively altering the learning landscape. It is the challenging responsibility of L&D professionals to embrace this transition, whilst still building blended learning which also engages established and more conservative learners.

www.brayleinolearning.co.uk

[1] http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/complete-white-paper-c11-481360.html

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/business/facebook-bends-the-rules-of-audience-engagement-to-its-advantage.html?_r=0

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