Learning professionals need to ensure their skills are ready for challenging times
Training, learning and e-learning recruitment company Blue Eskimo says that even the best learning professionals need to keep their skills sharp to stay relevant.
Learning, like lots of other industries, is undergoing significant change. Training and e-learning recruitment company Blue Eskimo says that learning specialists need to keep a firm eye on this year's strongest trends to see how they affect them - and to adapt when they do.
Nick Jones, director at Blue Eskimo, says that there are four key trends which learning professionals need to be aware of. "Mobile, what we call 'learning by Google', learning analytics and social media are all rising forces in learning," says Jones.
With the advent of tablets and smartphones, mobile learning is finding a ready market - but it's bringing with it some changes. For example, where much e-learning was previously Flash-based, the iPad and iPhone don't display Flash, so this has driven a rise in HTML5-based e-learning. This isn't a blip - the Learning & Performance Institute's Learning Survey 2012 says that 39% of companies are looking to adopt mobile learning. "The need for mobile learning skills in one form or another is part of many of the jobs which we're currently handling," says Jones. "It is one of this year's strongest trends."
Learning analytics is moving from 'nice to have' to an essential part of any learning project. "Companies no longer accept that learning is difficult to measure," says Jones. "They measure many aspects of their business and expect to apply the same level of science to learning."
Social media has come from nowhere to transform all of our lives. Social learning may be the new kid on the block, but interest in it is rising - as is the demand for skills. "We live in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks," says Jones. "It's no surprise - when you consider how collaborative learning can be - that companies want to make this part of their learning mix." Again, this isn't a small trend. Research by ASTD found that 87% of respondents would be more likely to use Web 2.0 technologies in learning than they currently do - and some specialists believe that social learning will over time rise to supplant e-learning.
Not all learning trends are opportunities - some are threats. 'Learning by Google' - simply getting on Google to look for a free tutorial when solving a problem - is a growing challenge for learning providers. "It's hard to compete with free," says Jones, "other than by being better. It's getting harder and harder to dismiss this free, informal learning - and as initiatives such as the University of the People and the Khan Academy gain ground, it's clear that there will be major players in this space too. There isn't a 'cure' for this as such - other than to be better, deliver the best learning you can and continually add value."
"The key thing," concludes Jones, "is for people to examine their roles and what others are doing around them; to make sure that they're open to change and invest time keeping their skills ahead of the game."