Technology (and technology companies) seems to never sleep, with new ideas, platforms and innovation being released hourly. With the wealth of excellent technology choices in every arena, it seems more difficult today for learning and development leaders to align technology with their business needs than it was even 5 years ago. Fortunately, there are 3 mega-trends that we are seeing related to technology in learning that I’d like to share with you: interactive video, responsive design, and engagement analytics. These emerging technologies are resonating with the learning industry and will continue to become more prevalent throughout 2018 and beyond.
The drumbeat for leveraging video content in our learning design and curricula has been increasing in tempo and cadence over the last few years. We know that many people learn by watching (Albert Bandura’s Social Modeling theory at its finest). We also encounter so many of our clients and populations in general that leverage YouTube (or any one of the bevy of corporate analogues) for informal and even formal learning. The push for user-generated webcam content has provided learning practitioners so much content that we’ve started licensing video portals and video-native LMSs to assemble all of this questionably great content.
Video portals are now viewed as a standard and accepted way to house and deliver video content in a secure, trackable and scalable environment. But is this enough? The expectations of a learner in need are no longer just having access to great content. They want to be able to access the right content, spend as little time as possible getting the information they need to solve a problem or develop skills . . . and do more than passively viewing content in the form of videos. As a result, we are seeing that customers are looking into how to make the actual videos themselves more engaging.
Interactive video plays well here. There are many licensed (Articulate Storyline 360) and open-source (H5P) tools that will allow you to add interactivity to your videos. For example, imagine being able to click on a portion of a video to get more information or create a simulation of a real-world experience? How about using video snippets to allow a ‘choose your own adventure’ video-based learning scenario with the ability to provide feedback and alternate context? In-line quizzes within your videos? This is the next phase of leveraging video for learning, and I think it’s the missing link between raw content and instructionally sound, engaging learning that we’ve been waiting for.
Responsive design means that you follow an ‘all-glass’ approach of designing and creating content once, but anticipate it will work on any device with a screen. This approach has been strictly adopted by startups and web-based technology companies for nearly 5 years, but we are finally seeing traction in the learning industry. This is not just about mobile learning. This approach (supported by nearly every single modern authoring tool like Gomo, Rise, Easy Generator, Obsidian Black, etc.) yields a course or content that will appear to play natively on any device, instead of having a preferred device and screen resolution.
While this was previously a tech limitation that we now have the ability to overcome . . . there is still more to properly using a responsive tool than creating your content and expecting it to yield great results. The trick is to design the content and experience so that you take advantage of the tools to provide an optimal learner experience (remember the learner, always!) This has become an expectation for all content that users encounter.
Today’s technology allows us not only to see how many learners viewed a piece of content, but the length they viewed the content for, how many times they revisited, which components they commented on or shared or bookmarked (ClipBucket, Vidizmo). With video portals, we can see when the average ‘tune-out’ was for each video — indicating that you have lost your audience (8 second attention span, anyone?) We are able to see the journey of a learner within the context of a learning program using tools such as the Intrepid Hub.
With the ability to analyze your ‘customer’, aka the learner, like a marketing professional would to better understand what the learner wants and needs (as aligned with your business strategy) . . . the expectations are becoming high in terms of what we, as learning professionals, can do to paint the picture of not only our learning population in general . . . but a personalized picture of each learner. Which content has better engagement within your organization or specific ranks and roles? Which content is shared or revisited most? What is the elective progression of your audience in terms of accessing knowledge nuggets available? Having insights into this type of data will allow you to design and create engaging and useful learning ecosystems for your audience.
It is great to see that many of the technologies that are available to the rest of the world are finding key roles with significance in learning. It is very important for us to incorporate and leverage technologies such as these to stay relevant with our audiences. For more information on these and other technologies to help your business stay ahead of the game, please feel free to contact me below.