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Learning and Development: What's New in 2024?

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Neil Khaund, CEO of the National Society of Leadership and Success emphasises that “people aren’t static — they change and grow every day and learning is a key part of that”.

For employers, fostering a continuous learning environment and investing in professional development remains one of the most advantageous strategies for nurturing a thriving workforce. By providing guidance and creating space for employees to evolve in alignment with both their professional and their personal goals, organisations not only allow for an abundance of opportunity but also make room for dedicated, skilled, and happy professionals.

That said, with new learning technologies and digital advancements, learning and development (L&D) has and will continue to fundamentally transform, making learning more fun, accessible, and engaging than ever before.

In this blog, we dive into what’s new and exciting in the world of L&D.

1) Immersive Learning Experiences

Immersive learning is an experience that utilises artificial, digitally created content and environments that replicate real-world scenarios. While this type of learning has been around for some time now, it’s still relatively new in the world of work and has proven to aid learners in developing practical knowledge and skills that align with their role.

These experiences are particularly good at catering to visual and kinaesthetic learners, offering them a more engaging way to upskill and ultimately making learning more available to those who may find traditional learning styles more challenging.

What makes immersive learning experiences so successful, however, is that they’re fully customisable, allowing individuals to upskill through virtual reality simulations mirroring real-life situations in a variety of ways, including:

  • Virtual Reality (VR): where learning content is distributed through virtual reality headsets, headphones and controllers, making training more hands-on and interactive.

  • Augmented Reality (AR): a combination of both VR and digital content. Using smartphones and apps, AR allows learners to access content based on specific objects or geographical locations and this content can take multiple forms, such as flat or 2D. Common examples of AR include filters and interactive games.

  • Mixed Reality: a mixture of both VR and AR. This digital content overlays with real life content and can be physically adapted by real world objectives. An example would be ‘Tilt Brush’, a room scale 3D-painting virtual reality application which lets you paint in a 3D space with virtual reality.

  • 360 Film: this type of content tends to be live film, rather than generated by a computer. Like VR and AR, 360 film content is distributed via headset, however, as a learner you are grounded by the filmmaker’s viewpoint and cannot move independently or interact within your vicinity – think of it like watching an immersive movie.

2) Internal Upskilling

Technology, AI and data are transforming at a rapid pace, and in some cases organisations are struggling to keep up with the necessary training and upskilling required.

Research has confirmed that by 2025, 70% of employees will be expected to not only use data but read, analyse, interpret and communicate with it. With only 11% of professionals currently confident in their ability to do this. 2024 will see a drastic increase in internal upskilling in the workplace, in order to close skill gaps and avoid hiring externally.

Some additional benefits to internally upskilling include:

  • Reduced costs in terms of recruitment
  • Increased employee engagement and a positive sense of belonging amongst teams
  • Increased employee retention
  • Filling skill gaps
  • A higher quality of overall workload

3) AI-powered Learning Environments

With the goal of revolutionising the way individuals develop, creating personalised experiences and monitoring progress, AI-powered learning environments are now operating in many workplaces across the globe. Currently, 35% of organisations are using AI and 42% exploring and planning implementation for the near future.

In traditional learning environments, for instance, slow feedback is likely to be the biggest factor when it comes to delays and squashing engagement. However, with AI-powered chatbots, this is now changing. Chatbots are offering real-time feedback, whether that be responding to answers intuitively, calculating scores faster or providing specific follow-up questions for the learner.

It’s worth noting that immersive learning experiences focus more on real-life application, developing skills such as problem solving and decision making, Whereas AI-powered learning environments focus more on employee experience.

4) An Emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training

Unless you’re a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) expert, have a particular interest in the topic or have had your own personal experiences in the workplace, the likelihood of you feeling confident in your knowledge of DEI is slim (regardless of it being a buzz topic for the last few years).

With 76% of employees and job seekers stating that diversity was important when considering job offers, 2024, will see an increased number of learning and development professionals refining and reshaping what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like in the workplace. This will also include mandatory DE&I training for all employees – however this will not and cannot be a one size fits all approach.

With what is simply not just hiring a diverse workforce, DEI initiatives take into consideration socio-political landscapes, socio-economic factors, sustainability and policy changes and inclusivity.

Educating, training and supporting workforces with the knowledge, skills and confidence to advocate for DEI initiatives in the workplace is now vital. These initiatives include but are not limited to:

  • Creating a diversity committee that will lead discussions, organise events and talks, share articles, stories and books as well as following the diversity calendar

  • Sharing real life examples through DE&I Lunch&Learn sessions

  • Hiring a DE&I expert to create a personalised DE&I training workshop

  • Creating employee resource groups

Katerina Bezrukova, Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo’s School of Management says that DEI training has the potential to positively address bias and prejudice within organisations, explaining that the fundamental goal should always be to increase empathy and understanding across the board, this will in turn ensure “everyone feels valued, respected and an integral part of the team”.

5) Microlearning Is Taking Over

With what is really becoming a hot topic and one of the most efficient ways of learning there is, microlearning focuses on dispersing learning content to users in short bursts of time. Whether this be through video, quizzes, images or games, research has confirmed that this way of learning has boosted employee retention rates from 25% to 60%, proving that absorbing information this way is not only working but creating fantastic results.

Some other benefits that have been widely spoken about include:

  • The costs: microlearning is cheaper to produce and requires little instruction. LMS content creation tools are doing the heavy lifting across many organisations.

  • It’s adaptable and flexible: not only can this type of learning happen anywhere (with the right tool or platform!), microlearning can cover any subject, simple or complex.

  • It’s quick to deliver: when time restraints appear, microlearning is a quick way to deliver a lot of content in a short space of time.

So, while it can be said that technology is taking the lead in the learning and development industry, 2024 will further see work towards diversity and inclusion, internal upskilling and interactive learning experiences. Learning and development professionals will continue to adapt, ensuring they meet the expanding demands of current workplaces.

 


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