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Kulwant Singh Bardh, CEO Asia Pacific at KNOLSKAPE, evaluates the future of learning through the lens of a developing economy, that might soon see e-learning and mobile learning becoming extinct.
In 2015, there were 2.5 billion internet users. What is the expected number by 2020? Five billion. This equates to half a billion newcomers to the world of internet every year from now till 2020. An average user has 29 apps on their smartphones out of which they use only five of them, 78% of the time.
The way we consume media and information is changing far too rapidly. The way we learn is also changing, and changing rapidly.
Five years ago, none of the HR leaders in Indonesia wanted to talk about abandoning traditional classroom based training. They had just come across terms such as e-learning and struggled to push through any form of technology-based learning.
When I spoke to L&D leaders of some of the top local companies there recently, they felt they were ready to push e-learning through.
What was startling for them to hear was that if traditional classroom training is becoming archaic, e-learning is merely a touch of paint to an old car. E-learning and even mobile learning is getting old already to the companies ahead of the learning curve.
David Rock, CEO and noted authority in neuroscience mentioned the top five talent developments moving forth from 2016. Here is a sampling of his quote in his Jan 2016 article:
“Companies are increasingly frustrated from returns in leadership development. While as many as 85% of companies rank leadership development as “urgent” or “important,” only 14% claim to be ‘excellent’ at developing their global leaders.
Another study by i4cp found that only 50% of large organisations actually prioritise developing leaders’ global competencies, and as little as one-third describe their efforts as successful.
The challenge is that leaders have more to learn in less time, with smaller learning budgets, and yet we’re using the same organisational and professional development strategies in play for decades.
We are seeing a growing trend towards simplifying leadership development — eliminating the ‘model muddle’ and instead developing a memorable framework for ‘sticky learning’ to develop leaders in companies. Increasingly, we’re seeing companies turn to interactive and social learning initiatives with built-in acknowledgments of how the brain optimally learns.
We estimate that up to 40% of larger companies are reconsidering their learning strategies and that this number will continue to grow.”
The challenge is that leaders have more to learn in less time, with smaller learning budgets, and yet we’re using the same professional development strategies in play for decades.
Coming back to the Indonesian companies, we had to educate them about the future of learning as being experiential, practical, highly engaging, allowing high retention rates in learning in the shortest possible time.
Learning happens best by doing. E-learning is merely a quick way to absorb knowledge using web-based tools but still lacks practical skills application.
New research in neuroscience is beginning to discount the traditional held assumptions that we know about how best learners should learn. Instructional designers could lose their jobs in the future as Kolb’s learning cycle and the assumptions of learning styles emphasise the ‘doing’ more than anything else.
New neural pathways can be formed when learners are allowed to experiment the learning entirely by themselves through realistic simulations and getting immediate assessment of their actions.
Self-directed experiential learning through gamified simulations is the new future of learning and the role of facilitators will evolve to focusing more on contextualisation of the learning.
Managers can be rapidly trained to conduct facilitation since most learning happens by ‘doing’, with the assumption that learners will know how to unlearn, relearn and learn through the assessments they get while they do simulations.
With minimal facilitation techniques required because of the self-paced self-directed learning from the immersive, gamified simulations, the role of managers in conducting such training will increase.
Average facilitators will start to lose their jobs in the future and companies will have to worry less about paying higher fees to source the best facilitators to bring content to life as the content today will come to life by itself through immersive, gamified simulations.
The traditional classroom based training is at a high risk of becoming a dinosaur, and if developing countries such as Indonesia are already recognising this, given the rapid rate of technology adoption, they could well be ahead of some of the more advanced economies in this region in no time.
Judging by the exponential rate of learning through technology adoption in the next few years, even acting now might already be too late for some companies.
So what is the future of learning going to look like? It will be delivered through virtual reality, augmented reality and supported by AI (artificial intelligence). This will apply not just to leadership development approaches but also to virtual assessments.