Top tips for learning professionals when looking at new learning technologies

Over the past few years, both educational institutions and corporate enterprises have been given access to an increasing number of learning platforms, which are effectively self-service. This is in stark contrast to the days when IT departments were in complete control of every tech-orientated device or program an organisation utilised.

As a result, end users can use advanced learning platforms with the greatest of ease and even create their own content or build their own courses. But this doesn’t mean IT departments are no longer required, as they must now act as the contact point between the learning technology provider and the learning technology user, regardless of whether its an academic- or business-based.

However, this also means that new job roles are being created, which bridge the gap between technology teams and HR departments. Greater integration is required due to the fact that IT assets are joining forces with the long-established responsibilities of staff, such as creating and delivering training.

To give an example, instructional designers are now on hand to blend modern tech-based skills with traditional learning and development requirements. You would think this needs to be someone with an IT background and knowledge of coding or support, but the ease in which learning platforms can be adopted and introduced enable anyone with the right skill set to be an instructional designer. 

Then again, L&D professionals will still need the help of both IT teams and HR departments to identify the right solution. With this in mind, here is what to look at when exploring new learning technologies.

The challenges associated with new learning technologies

Before you identify a new piece of learning technology and automatically come to the conclusion that it will improve the way you train your staff, you must consult with your IT team first, as they are best qualified to advice and instruct. Otherwise, the following problems and issues are a distinct possibility:

    • Choosing a learning technology that does not meet your requirements – There is no reason to suggest that a learning technology with a great deal of functionality and extensive capabilities will be the right fit for your organisation. After all, every organisation’s training requirements are different.
    • Choosing a learning technology that does not integrate with existing systems – Moving away from traditional training techniques towards a more modern learning approach isn’t easy, especially if you choose a platform that is completely different to your current IT infrastructure.
    • Choosing a learning technology that does not work properly – Although you may be able to extract some usefulness from most learning technologies, there is a chance that your choice might not be fit for purpose at all.

To steer clear of these worst case scenarios, always work hand in hand with IT departments to identify what each learning technology is capable of, how it can deliver training to employees, and whether or not your preferred choice could be integrated into daily operations with minimal fuss.

This also means reaching out to technology vendors and suppliers in order to build strong working relationships built on trust. Ask how their solution has been utilised by other clients and what changes could be made to better suit your own circumstances. Seeing as training materials and course content will probably go out of date, this relationship could last for many years too, so the technology as well as the vendor needs to be a good fit.

Encouraging innovation by removing technological barriers

Around a decade ago, technology was dominated by code, which if you didn’t understand you had no chance of being able to engage with. But these days, regardless of whether its a learning technology or website builder, end users can start interacting immediately without any prior knowledge of how it all works.

This is great for innovation, as it encourages members of staff to take matters into their own hands and go on a voyage of personal learning discovery. But you still need to be mindful that challenges will arise by adopting recently developed learning platforms, which is why finding the right approach and removing technological barriers is crucial for fuelling employee innovation.

While IT teams might not be required to set-up or support training solutions like they used to, CTOs must now alter their behaviour and develop capabilities to allow for open and immediate approaches. With so many options available, businesses can adopt a new learning technology for a month or so, decide whether it is right for the organisation, before committing to a long-term solution or looking elsewhere for an alternative.

Thanks to cloud-based technology, there is no need for installing heavy software programs either. Mobile apps enable you to find out if employees are comfortable with completing training at a time and in a place that suits them, while concepts like gamification and interactive content provide instantaneous feedback about staff achievements.

What to remember when considering new learning technologies

Even though adopting and implementing a new learning technology is something no organisation will take lightly, there are a few things to bear in mind that should stand you in good stead.

Establishing a strong relationship with IT – Despite the fact the latest learning technologies are not as code-heavy as they used to be, it still helps to have the expertise of an IT professional close to hand for help and advice, particularly when it comes to integration.

Having an open mind – Your choice of technology might be restricted in some ways, but it is crucial to have an open mind and not discount any potential solution. It is recommended to give precedence to systems that are modern, open, and provide a seamless experience for the learner.

Understanding your current IT infrastructure – You will encounter a great deal of technical issues in the future if your new learning technology cannot work alongside existing computer systems or other learning solutions.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Published: 14 Mar, 2016