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Published on August 15th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise


The Death of the Training Department (Part Six) : Shaking Foundations

A series of blog posts encouraging discussion about the future of enterprise training and L&D.

It can be difficult for training professionals to think outside of deeply held fundamentals. Sit down with any L&D veteran and they can list off the essentials of effective training: it should be based on learning objectives, tell a story to be engaging, and it requires assessment to confirm the learner retained the information. Sound familiar? But, with changing learner expectations and the capabilities of new technologies that are common in today’s workplace, the foundations of enterprise training are showing cracks.

Before reaching for the traditional elearning module, print job aide or instructor-led course, training developers need to consider a change in thinking about the essentials for the end product. Let’s take a look at three of these:

  1. Stop thinking of training as linear experiences. New technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are not necessarily linear experiences with a start and a finish. A user can pop in to any part of the experience and make choices that send them in one of a myriad of directions. As training, instructional design for this type of experience has to be markedly different. Typically in AR, the training should allow the user/learner to access the exact content they need at the appropriate time of need. Thus, the goal of the training is not, “let’s tell them all they need to know to get the task done,” but “let’s make the right information easily attainable when they need it to get the task done.” With this goal, design and development of the training needs a whole new perspective.
  2. Stop thinking the training needs to tell a story. This one may sound sacrilege but if the content isn’t linear (see #1) is a story necessary? Certainly there are many ways to tell a story but usually it is done with a start that leads to a finish. And, the “story” requirement is usually prioritized because the learner needs to be engaged for an entire, assumingly somewhat boring, course. If vital training content is being delivered in a contextual, on-demand experience to an always connected employee, a “story” for “engagement” becomes just so much clutter in the way of the desired goal – support and enable the learner.
  3. Stop thinking high levels of retention are a priority. Now that training solutions can provide information at the time of need, is there always a need for the employee to be able to recall the entire scope of information? In fact, doesn’t making the content available as needed result in more accurate and efficient performance? Design training that provides a balance of skills that are learned and retained but also supported by on demand information.

Of course a case can be made for the importance of linear training, storytelling and content retention. These are not black & white decisions. Every training challenge has specific needs and goals and some will always be best met with traditional modes of learning. But, with the unprecedented opportunities provided by emergent tech such as AR & VR, and with employee learners expecting to solve problems and tasks at hand in the same way they do in everyday life, all training approaches should be reimagined to powerfully equip and support them.

Photo by Mirko Blicke on Unsplash

Scott McCormick is the CEO of Emergent Enterprise and Editor of emergent-enterprise.com, a tech news website covering AR/VR, AI and IoT. He has a 30+ year history in corporate communications and training as part of three startups and speaks across the country about emergent technologies and their user experience. Find out more here: https://emergent-enterprise.com/about-us/

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The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.

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