Welcome to the future of work where career lifespans are long, skill lifespans are short, and Learning and Development is far from what it used to be. Today’s technology allows employees to improve their current skills and continuously develop totally new ones. Naturally, employees have more power over their learning today, while L&D professionals are now faced with the opportunity to shape the support employees in new ways and shape the future workforce.

Employees today use technology on a daily basis to channel their curiosity. Whether they want to learn how to make a pizza from scratch, determine how to have conversations with their kids, or need to connect with other people, the answers are right at their fingertips.

What we call “the future of learning” is already old. We’re well past big binders, an overblown classroom curriculum, and the brilliant lecturer who is smart, but still lectures! I’m always surprised when I see how prevalent this traditional style of classroom is.

E-learning is not new, in fact, we’re past e-Learning and on to the next effective uses of learning experiences that aren’t about one-way “information transmission.”

Corporate learning behaviour today is equivalent to that of the curious people who’ve adopted a digital lifestyle. More companies have incorporated podcasts, chat bots, virtual classes, videos, augmented reality job aids, and even voice recognition technology.

It’s evident that going digital in the workplace is seamless for employees, and enhances productivity. Employees can access relevant information in less time and potentially “apply quicker.” Depending on the tasks, the emphasis on performance support tools and the “Google it” mentality has led to better availability of job aids and faster application of routine tasks.

As companies incorporate digital learning in the workplace, some L&D professionals may question their role in employee development today. After all, L&D departments were a main learning resource for employees not long ago. With more learning sources comes more diversity in the workplace than ever before. There simply is no one-size-fits-all learning method.

I see a near future where there isn’t a “training department.” Employees won’t expect a department to give them the skills they need. Instead, they’ll be empowered to learn with the support of many behind-the-scene roles orchestrating a seamless, just-in-time learning experience. And I’m a creator in the future of my own role obsolescence where my work as Senior Instructional Designer doesn’t exist! Yet I’m excited to think about what support I will provide instead.

Instead of following cookie-cutter training and procedures, employees have more control over their development in the workplace. It takes curiosity, searching, implementing, and practice on their own. However, feedback and guidance are equally as important. L&D professionals provide this needed support to modern learners.

As a result, advanced L&D professionals use technology to assist in achieving their new objective: To empower employees, encourage continuous learning, and embrace diverse learning experiences. Things have certainly changed for L&D in recent years, but the future of learning is here and is opening our eyes to many great possibilities.

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