Making predictions about future technology can be a perilous business, but, in the case of learning technologies, there is reason to expect a degree of predictability about the next few years at least.
Learning has been a laggard compared with other parts of business when it comes to the adoption of digital technology. There has been less capital invested in the sector than in finance, marketing, and media; the application of technology to learning is less straightforward than in those sectors, and the returns are harder to quantify.
On the simplest level this means that if we want to know what the future of learning systems might look like, then a sidelong glance at what is currently happening in adjacent worlds, especially those of marketing and media, might give us a clue. And, in fact, this slightly simplistic way of running out what is to come has driven many expectations in learntech, including that highly misleading phrase “the Netflix of learning” for LXP.
Learning Systems: Where are we going?
If we look to the key underlying driver of change in those worlds—data and the use of data by AI—we can see that there is a lot of headroom for growth in our own patch. In recent years, we have seen AI entering the learning technology stack in the shape of recommendation engines, curation, bots, and content-generation algorithms. In each of these areas there is a lot of future potential for development, and limited market penetration to date, which will no doubt be built on, taking each of them mainstream. And that is without looking at the many future ways in which data can be used within learning suites and specialist platforms to enrich and support learning.
Personalization of learning has been an important trend in the past few years, and a key area of development within the field, because it introduces a potential capability we were never able to get anywhere near in the pre digital world, leveraging the genius of the individual tutor beyond about 40 people for any one cohort. A type of instruction that goes beyond that physical limit to global scale, without loss of efficacy and sophistication, has been a long-nurtured dream of learning visionaries going back decades. It would be overclaiming to say we were anywhere near cracking it at present, but that is the direction of travel, and more of what was dreamed of back in the pre internet era is now technically possible than ever before. The tools are slowly catching up with the vision.
So, expect more personalization and moves in the direction of adaptive learning paths—and, at the same time, more delivery of relevant and good-quality information into the working context. Not all of what L&D departments are charged with taking care of is learning. There is also important work to be done not only in corporate communications but also in the realm of knowledge management, helping employees to deal better with complexity, embracing concepts such as wayfinding and sense-making. The learning systems of the future will embrace these needs that go beyond learning, just as those parts of the learning-technologies world have always attempted to address the needs of organizations. As needs change, so systems change. Any learning suite built to last will have behind it a vision that has the capacity in its emerging form to hold dreams that haven’t yet been dreamed.
So, what is the workflow that a modern learning system serves? And what are the assumptions and beliefs that underpin its design? These are questions for which any vendor of a modern learning suite should have a compelling set of answers. To find out more download our new whitepaper, Suite Dreams, here.
Ben serves as CEO for Learning Pool. Previously, Ben served as Chief Product Officer for Learning Pool where he worked to help define and develop Learning Pool’s next generation of workplace digital learning platforms, with a focus on Learning Experience Platforms and the Learning Analytics space.
Before Learning Pool, Ben helped to build HT2 Labs from humble beginnings into a globally recognized innovator in workplace digital learning. Learning Pool completed an acquisition of HT2 Labs in June 2019.
Ben’s expertise is based in research, having previously completed his PhD researching the impact of gamification on adult social learning, Ben has authored and contributed chapters for many books, has two peer-reviewed academic papers and has presented at conferences around the world, including TEDx.