Street Full of People Walking

Innovations and Modernization Insights

Jonathan Thomas Learning Technology, Training Trends Leave a Comment

Leaders, innovators, and practitioners in the training and development industry converged at the 2019 ATD International Conference in Washington, D.C. this May to share insights and learn about innovations and trends in the learning industry. After collecting our thoughts, we thought we should share some of what we picked up on.

Aligning Project Management and Training

Along with the usual instructional designers and performance consultants on our conference team, we sent our senior project manager, Jade Velazquez, to evaluate new trends in training design, development, and deployment processes. He happened upon a session about Instructional System Design (ISD) models. Valazquez mentioned that the speaker discussed the historical use of the ADDIE model, as well as the unsuccessful use of the Agile models more commonly used in the tech industry. The speaker also said they had success in using a blended ADDIE-Agile model in which meant that development/evaluation phases follow an initial analysis.

We can’t speak to their motivations, but over the past few years, we’ve seen an increasing number of clients push away from the ADDIE model to accommodate their internal processes. Perhaps this is representative of a shift in project management mindset within the industry. To accommodate our clients’ custom development needs, we’ve developed a few different development processes including blended ADDIE-Agile models, furthered by supporting tech like our project portal.

More on Millennials

Training for millennials was a hot topic at ATD 2018, and this year’s conference continued the trend. Many of the sessions and exhibitors presented content on training for millennial learning styles. One session, in particular, mentioned that older generations might view the new working generation as “lazy” or “unmotivated.” As Millennials enter the workforce, they bring their own learning style with them, as does every generation. Rather than dwelling on those differences, perhaps it’s more effective to conduct a detailed analysis of your audience. If we gleaned any insight from this year’s round of Millennial commentary, it was to design training based on familiar media and innovations (e.g., designing a content management system user interface to resemble common platforms like Netflix or Youtube).

Less Knowledge-based Training, More Action-based Training

Modern training programs are moving away from simply building up a knowledge base and expecting employees to perform. One of the more exciting emerging training trends to return to ATD this year centers around bringing learning into the flow of work through task-based performance support or focusing on what learners need to do to perform their job duties.

More vendors are starting to utilize task-oriented training methods like simulations and scenario-based decision-making training models to allow learners to practice for their performance objectives. Others were focusing on technology to push relevant training content on-demand. Some of the more interesting solutions in this area were based on tech that attempted to create a platform for seamless live video feedback. How it works is that learners would submit a video (e.g., a customer sales pitch or response to a customer services question) and receive a quick response and feedback from a training support team. While the technology itself seems innovative, we’ll have to wait and see how this platform can support a learning initiative. Technology itself is not enough.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Though augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology made a splash at ATD 2018, the effective application of the technology to training programs hasn’t made much progress. There were some exhibitors flaunting cool AR/VR gear, but we noticed that it lacked a necessary instructional component. The technology seemed to be more of a shiny new toy than effective training tool. We think this has to do with the cost of implementation and general resistance to unfamiliar innovations. Most companies don’t seem quite ready to jump on the bandwagon, or they simply don’t have the need. However, without a sound instructional strategy and a well-planned learning ecosystem, simply using AR/VR because it’s cool won’t drive learning or performance.

Lessons Learned

This conference affirmed the need for quality instructional design as the foundation for any training program. Right now we’re seeing new innovations and methodologies break into the learning industry. However, new tech doesn’t necessarily lead to great training, nor do new processes lead to better development. The training method and mode must fit their respective learning goals and performance objectives to be effective. Similarly, the development process must be aligned with vendor and client operations to be efficient. Think critically on how to best utilize these individual tools within the larger learning strategy to facilitate real behavioral change.

What trends are you seeing?


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