FutureThink conducted a 30-question survey of learning and development professionals. Their report, The Future of Learning & Development: Trends, Topics & Tools to Stay Ahead of the Curve, was published in October 2009. Respondents included managers at all levels in small and large companies across a wide range of industries, who clearly agreed that the learning and development function was on the brink of tremendous change.
- 74% saw the influence of learning and development expanding in the next two years to become a strategic business partner and play a greater role in generating value for the company
- Almost 50% believed that training offerings would grow in the next two years
- 62% planned to offer e-learning and/or collaborative training while 55% identified webinars as necessary for success
- 85% agreed or strongly agreed that the majority of learning would be collaborative
- 100% agreed or strongly agreed that future learning would be done in short timeframes using micro-modules for more focused learning and better results
Survey respondents said that courses and presentation needed to change dramatically. Face-to-face workshops remained the favourite forum but most courses were considered too long, too boring and too 'Powerpoint' to meet learner expectations, while seminars and conferences were less viable due to the financial environment.
They identified a need to teach courses that drive business, not just build foundation skills. Training topics were predicted to move away from leadership skills and business basics to cover timely issues such as digital fluency, understanding global markets, and business analysis.
Due to tight budgets and geographically dispersed teams, responders thought flexible blended learning would take the place of classroom-based workshops. In fact, face-to-face workshops were predicted to fall by 45% in favour of social media learning, e-learning, and facilitated webinars, especially for younger people.
The audience that had the greatest training priority was high potentials, managers, and those leading teams or business units.
Short or micro courses were seen as the future, to better respect participant time, stress levels and attention spans.
Respondents admitted that courses needed to let participants do more actual participating. Keywords included engaging, experiential, exercise-driven, and interactive.
Learning and development professionals have the goal of helping people reach their potential. To do this, they need to motivate and inspire people to learn, grow, and take on new challenges. Responders therefore felt that trainers needed to inject a sense of passion in order to make learning exciting again. They also need to justify their existence by measuring success.
So, what do you think – it’s been nearly five years, but has L&D already evolved along those lines? Or are we still waiting?