I was recently asked, by a pharmaceutical client, what was “new” and leading-edge in training.
I haven’t seen a lot of specific programs or approaches that struck me as the latest-and-greatest must-haves, but there are certain social and technology trends that will profoundly impact training in the years to come. Here are a handful that I think are important:
1. Who – specifically, from whom will we get our knowledge, coaching, and support? I believe that the formal, centralized model of training will increasingly be displaced by social, peer-to-peer networking and resourcing on the job. New platforms are now emerging, combining elements of learning management, knowledge management, content management, and social networking, including such features as wikis, blogs, and micro-sharing (peer-to-peer messaging). People are now getting used to learning from one another via networking, and this will (should!) shape training approaches in the years to come.
Example: Pfizer’s Pfizerpedia project. Pfizer researchers creating a living wiki that is peer-to-peer driven. See Karl Kapp’s overview (with more helpful links); a .pdf case study; article from Information Week.
2. When – these days, with the one-click-away Google, presence apps like Twitter, and cell-phone connectivity, it’s all about the NOW. We’re getting used to finding what we need when we need it, and training will need to migrate increasingly to a Continuous Training Development / Continuous Learning Access / Constant Update / Immediate Equipping model. While there will always be some training content on the long development cycle slow train, we’re now entering a technology era where fingertip performance support is potentially ubiquitous.
Example: On-line coaching tools. For software apps and other needs, context-sensitive help & coaching, now including audio/video/screencasts, is being rolled out. This is far superior to sitting in a classroom for 5 days with fire-hose training, and a hope and a prayer that students will retain the material.
3. Where and How – With smart phones, notebook computers, Kindles, and who-knows-what-will-be-launched-next-month, information and communication are finally untethered. We can take pictures, chat, videoconference, blog, search, and listen anywhere and everywhere. Training will gladly hop aboard this fast-moving express. Multi-channel communications (podcasts, e-mail simulations, webcasts, videos) are being woven into daily life, and will increasingly shape training, as will the use of gaming environments and virtual worlds.
Example: One of my pharma clients recently rolled out laptops that included integrated webcams. This capability soon led to a new layer of productivity – pre-event training practice on selling skills that could be conducted “live” and at a distance, making the on-site training more efficient.
4. What – The era of personalized information experience is here, and is increasingly moving into training platforms. Anyone can set up an iGoogle or My Yahoo page and add information and application boxes, or customize widgets on Facebook pages, or set up RSS feeds around their own interests. As these technologies are embraced in training, whole new layers of efficient and customized training delivery become possible.
Example: Some Learning Management Systems are rolling out portal-like front-ends, which allow people to see customized training, resources, and information according to login. This trend will accelerate as personalized information delivery becomes the norm across all web technologies.
And now, one final trend that SHOULD be embraced – Strategic Design and development of training with a focus on operational efficiency. But that’s a whole separate topic…