I started out in the learning industry more than 30 years ago. At that time of course, I grew up teaching in the in-person classroom because computer-based training (CBT) was not mainstream. As an instructional designer and course facilitator, boardrooms, meeting rooms and conference centres provided the canvas on which I painted a live course each day. Typically, I had groups of 20 to 25 persons at a time, and I was there with them for 1 – 3 days as we trained on a particular topic. Over the last 15 years, the learning landscape really started to shift.
More Available and Cost-Effective
Back in the 80s, CBT had usage limitations and was not widely used. At the time, people who participated in the digital learning space had really deep pockets—such as those in the aviation and pharmaceutical industries. My first exposure to CBT was in the telecommunications industry—training new customer-service representatives in one of Canada’s largest corporations.
About 10 years ago, I noticed the learning landscape indeed starting to shift significantly. Digital learning tools were becoming more available and cost-effective. I realized this was an incredible opportunity because, as a learning practitioner, I always had to depend on bosses, supervisors, coaches, or managers in the workplace to reinforce the training that I had invested into employees in the course of a day. And those employees may or may not ever get a chance to use that training when they returned into their workplace. Even worse, the key teachings were not always reinforced in the days and weeks that followed the training.
Digital learning tools allow us to deliver more training through just-in-time formats.
When a person needs training on a particular topic, they can now access training on that topic at that time—rather than having to wait for a week, month, or year until the ‘course’ happens to be available to attend in an in-person classroom. A good learning library means that employees can find the information they need easily, when they need it.
Performance Support in the Workplace
Performance support is also very different now because we can incorporate intravenous-style drip training into the workplace. As an instructor, I can go back into the workplace with the participants and drip bite-sized performance support that reinforces the learning. This helps offset the forgetting curve while also increasing learner retention rates.
And the shift to digital has also made the learning landscape more available to everyone regardless of geography, job function, or socio-economic status.
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