Training and development professionals across industry verticals have one common challenge: moving the needle.
We want to explore what can be expected in the next generation of enterprise learning. Our prediction is that contextual training will overtake current eLearning tools.
1. eLearning technology does not meet the demand for on the job learning
Classroom learning may have a place in special circumstances, but is typically expensive and inefficient, not to mention logistically complicated.
Adopting eLearning tools was an obvious choice to improve the effectiveness and convenience of enterprise training programs.
The efficiency of putting information online, making it searchable, gamified and on demand (among many more benefits) makes a big difference for both the trainee and the organization.
But even still, eLearning technology does not meet the demand for on the job learning.
Harvard Business Review reports that new hires who use old learning methods take 8-12 months on average to become fully productive.
And Deloitte reports the average employee spends 6.5 hours per week learning or trying to learn.
There is a huge and recognized need for employees to train faster and learn better.
An organization’s learning office is not exempt from the constant push to cut costs and improve effectiveness. eLearning has had a positive impact on achieving these objectives, but we want to know what technology will push eLearning to meet the needs of enterprise learning.
2. Training today is out of context and inefficient
Enterprise learning programs have a few options.
First, there’s classroom training methods which are typically expensive and inefficient, not to mention logistically complicated.
Then there are eLearning tools such as webinars and knowledge bases which, as discussed, make an impact. But even then, these tools reach a limit in their effectiveness.
Webinars are informative and accessible on-demand, however, they lack deep engagement.
Knowledge bases are often used to supplement webinars, but rely on the employee to actively look for and engage with the materials. And neither method provides training within the context of its intended use.
And the list goes on.
What classroom learning, webinars and knowledge bases have in common is that they all are out of context.
3. Contextual learning technology exists on the horizon
Let’s talk about contextualization. And to do that, we need to first talk about personalization. The distinction is important.
Personalization, the process of tailoring user experience to an individual user’s habits or preferences, has become the norm for software.
However, as machine learning and artificial intelligence evolve, we’re now able to take in an unlimited number of indicators to deliver the best options at the best time. These indicators could include the task you are performing, the position you fill, the department you are part of and the organization’s goals to name a few.
This is contextualization: adapting the user experience within a program by factoring in all (or many) relevant factors.
Personalization draws on past behavior and existing data. It recognizes preferences and caters to them. If you alway use format X, a personalized platform will offer you format X first.
Contextualization draws on past behavior, existing data, what you are doing right now and most importantly: where you need to be.
You might be able to spot contextualization in consumer technology today. Personal assistant apps, as one example, are able to take in the time of day, your next flight, that flight’s status, your current location, your preferred travelling methods, and offer you a suggested leaving time, a quick link to navigate there or call a ride, and then tell you which will be faster.
This is contextualization.
Now, we just need to apply this technology to an eLearning strategy.
4. Contextual training is a better eLearning strategy
We are introducing the concept of contextualization as a more advanced form of personalization, with a disclaimer: this is not an exact science. In many ways the two exist in parallel, often overlapping and building off each other.
As AI and machine learning become more sophisticated and widespread, how we understand contextualization will become more refined.
The important part here is to see the possibility of being able to train employees in the moment they need training and align the training objectives with the objectives of the organizations.
Contextualized training means a shift in the way we perceive training; instead of a separate process, it becomes an integral part of software navigation. Each task is an opportunity to expand knowledge, to improve efficiency.
5. Contextual training improves the bottom line
Coupling preference with context will give learning systems a wealth of insight with which to improve training efficiency. For example, optimizing times of day which benefit teaching an employee new material vs review sessions.
Context, unlike personal factors, is subject to constant change. To utilize context sensitive learning software is to create engaged, evolved training minute-to-minute, goal-to-goal.
So as it relates to enterprise training, imagine the impact contextual eLearning tools will have on eLearning technology, on the job training, software adoption, employee productivity, organizational goals, and business.
Adding contextual training to B2B software has the potential to change the face of software training.
It has be potential to move the needle.