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2016 Training Trends: Experts Weigh In

With 2016 no longer in the future, but instead a reality upon us, we will begin seeing the implementation of 2015 thoughts and predictions. As L&D professionals, the topic of trends in training regularly finds its way in to our various conversations. As creators of custom learning solutions, we at Allen are especially excited about the trends that play a key role in shaping the learning process.

After careful analysis and multiple discussions with learning experts, we have curated a list of the top 10 trends from the last five years in our #Trending 2016 ebook. This is not only a look into the past, but also an analysis of how trends will evolve in the future.

To provide further context on the trends in our ebook, we talked to industry experts about their thoughts on the trends we looked at, as well as their insights and predictions across other training methods. Here are their thoughts about training trends for 2016 and beyond.

Kellye Whitney

Kellye Whitney
Associate Editorial Director
Chief Learning Officer

According to what experts and practitioners are sharing with us, personalization will be huge in 2016. Obviously, organizations are trying out more mobile and even Snapchat technology delivery systems for training use, but without the ability to customize development options to learners’ needs in the moment, the latest and greatest bells and whistles won’t help as much as they could.

It’s all about identifying where learners are in their development and creating programs and interventions to elevate them to that next level—without forcing peers to stride along the same learning path. Some employees learn faster or slower than others. Why bore one because another needs a bit of help?

Another of our contributors called 2016 the year of optimized knowledge. He too stressed the importance of personalized learning and providing development aides at the point of need. That means learning can’t only originate with the learning function. Organizations have to support a just-in-time flow of information and manage knowledge like an asset in a supply chain.

Sybil Stershic

Sybil Stershic
Quality Service Marketing

In my work, the most significant trend is a renewed focus on face-to-face training for management and leadership development. Executives are interested in the value of in-person training to build organizational capacity. Benefits to engaging small groups of employees in such training include shared organizational goals, more collaboration and idea-sharing across departmental silos, and getting “everyone on the same page.”

Whether developing employees through in-house training or sending them off-site to professional development programs or specialized industry conferences, quality face-to-face training provides participants the dedicated, uninterrupted time they need to digest, discuss, adapt, and apply the insights and tools that will enable them to improve organizational performance.

Zaid Alsagoff

Zaid Ali Alsagoff
Principal Lead (e-Learning & Innovation)
International Medical University

We will see an increased investment into transforming F2F learning spaces with flexible designs and interactive technology to empower more collaborative and engaging learning experiences. There will also be an increased focus on designing gamified and experiential learning experiences integrated with a blended and flipped learning flavor.

The demand for mobile learning will continue to grow, and people will increasingly want their content, activities and assessments to be designed and chunked perfectly for their smartphones, tablets and notebooks (responsive learning design). And one of the growing trends will be to design shorter MOOCs empowering them to be more granular, reusable and flexible for various learning contexts.

Finally, it will be interesting to see how personalized learning will evolve and potentially grow disruptively in the coming years, as Google, Microsoft and Facebook continue to venture into online learning to empower everyone online to learn whatever, whenever, wherever, however from whomever they want.

Ryan Tracey

Ryan Tracey
Editorial Board Member
eLearn Magazine

While the informalization of workplace learning is a trend that is much older, it has accelerated over the last 5 years. Certainly from my point of view, I’m seeing much less face-to-face training and even fewer online courses, in favour of more informal approaches such as on-demand content, job aids, and social networking. The penny has finally dropped in the corporate sector that “learning” doesn’t necessarily mean “classroom,” and pain points such as travel costs and time out of the business are starting to force the issue.

Gamification” is no longer a buzzword. Over the last 5 years, the discourse has changed from how gamification is going to fix all of our ills—or that it’s a complete waste of time—to a more constructive conversation about how game mechanics might or might not help us improve our performance.

Another example is mobile learning. Our collective mindset has shifted away from pushing everything onto mobile devices so our people can learn outside of work hours (which is really quite naïve) to enabling our people to use their devices to pull in content when they need it. We appreciate now that mobile works when the WIIFM [what’s in it for me] is there. For example, if I’m out in the field and I need to brush up on my product specs before I meet a client, it’s in my interest to do a spot of mobile learning because it will improve my sales.

I think three of the biggest trends to impact the workplace in 2016 will be user-generated content, learning analytics, and augmented reality/virtual reality. The L&D team can only do so much on its own. In 2016, the SMEs in the business will be increasingly expected to share their knowledge, because—by definition—they’re the experts. That will allow the L&D folks to focus on their own role as the L&D SME.

2015 was an exciting year for AR and VR [augmented reality and virtual reality]. For example, Microsoft released HoloLens and Samsung released the Gear VR. I think 2016 will be the year in which the big players turn their attention from the device to the experiences on offer, which we L&D folks will be able to apply to our work.

David Zinger

David Zinger
Global Employee Engagement Expert
Founder, Employee Engagement Network

Learning is defined as a change resulting from experience. We need to offer changes that learners value and to give them engaging experiences. We need to reinstall the question mark in training and adult learning. If you give a learner the answer, you feed her for one task; but when you give the learner a question, you feed her for a lifetime of learning.

Learning must be simple, relevant, and behavioral. I define employee engagement as good work done well with others every day. I strive to ensure my training and education is based on fulfilling this simple definition. And even though it is simple, it is not always easy!

We have been flooded with content. Now the dam has burst, and we are flooded with learning material from a multitude of sources such as Coursera, Lynda, and Udemy. Our challenge is to engage the learner. I have signed up for many online courses never to have gone beyond the first module.

We invite learners. We can’t make them learn, so we must strive to ensure our invitation is compelling and that once the invitation is accepted the training continues to be compelling and engaging until the very last word, video, or exercise.

Anyone who decides to teach or design training must first and foremost be a learner themselves. When I stop learning, I will be dead. So engage and learn along with me, the best is yet to be.

Where do you see 2016 taking us in terms of training trends? What trend do you plan to implement this year?