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The New Age of Learning

The world has changed dramatically over the past three years– and with it, the world of learning and development. Just as trainers and L&D professionals settled into online delivery, we have now shifted back to hybrid workplaces. Some organizations have reintroduced in-person training, while others are mixed or have declared themselves fully virtual. 

The new age of learning is no longer the future – it’s the present. Companies that resist can find themselves struggling to fill open positions as employees take more control of their own careers. Front and center of employee-driven learning is the ability to learn on demand, in an engaging, interactive, personalized way that is as flexible as online learning and yet has the magic and charm of in-person interactions. In other words, the future of learning has to be phygital: combining the best of both physical and digital worlds. How are trainers to pivot to this new training normal?

This new age of learning, training, and development doesn’t have to be one we resist. Forward-thinking companies can embrace the changes and adapt to a world where a commute of several hours is replaced by productivity and where in-person doesn’t have to mean everyone must be in the same room. 

Let’s take a look at how training is evolving and how companies can look to entice, train, and retain employees. But first, how did we get to this point? 

The Year Everything Changed

As 2019 began, there was already a growing disconnect between employees, who for years had wanted more freedom in the way they worked, and their employers. Many employers believed the requested freedoms would create lackluster results. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone indoors. Traditional companies wishing to stay in business were catapulted into a future they hoped was many years ahead. For them, work meant everyone coming together under one roof to move toward the same goal. 

The idea of using a remote workforce for traditional companies meant losing control. How would employers know if each employee was putting in the adequate amount of time each day? COVID left them no other choice. Employees gathered only the equipment needed from offices and created home workspaces in a matter of days to keep things running the best they could under the new circumstances. 

Technology Does Not Stop

It’s easy to blame the pandemic for the changes but remote training is here not because of COVID, but because of technological advancements. Virtual reality simulations have existed for many years. Long before 2019, pilots logged hours in flight simulators before flying real planes with passengers or cargo. The same can be said for military and law enforcement training. 

Technology is also what may have saved the world economy during the pandemic. Without the advancements of the last decades, how would we have kept moving in the midst of this outbreak? 

While VR’s benefits were initially embraced by the gaming community, many knew its real benefits revolved around the technology’s ability to create a real sense of place and community. The VR market is expected to bring in over $12 billion in revenue by 2024. 

Opposing Sides

As COVID becomes a more manageable disease, employers and employees are seemingly pulling in opposite directions. Businesses want everyone to return to the workplace of old while employees now realize much of their work can be completed from home and would like to hold on to the new ways. 

This opposition is what has led to today’s Great Resignation. Employees exercised their value and resigned from companies they feel are refusing to change in search of companies more in tune with where work is heading. In 2021, over 47 million workers quit their jobs. 

Training Must Evolve

Training professionals must always be aware of the changes coming to the workforce. As generations bring a new outlook to work, trainers must be ready to meet their expectations to create an engaged workforce that believes in a company’s values and takes that company to a bright future. 

Think of anybody coming into an onboarding training session today. This person has spent most of their life to this point learning with the use of a computer, tablet, or phone. A trainer asking them to put away all electronics and take out paper and a pencil to take notes would be a bright red flag about this company as a whole. 

Training in Web 3.0

The internet as we know it today is a tool designed to help our machines connect all around the world. Yes, you are highly communicative online, but you are fully aware that it is happening by communicating from one device to another. 

In training, web 2.0 enabled people to train from anywhere with a solid internet connection. They do so with courses presented to them on the screen that ask them to read training material or view scenarios covering the material. A test is usually given to employees after completing the lessons. 

The shortfall of this training is that while it uses the web, it still relies on old methods of teaching developed decades ago. The idea is to memorize what is being taught. The concepts are then repeated as proof of understanding. 

Let’s go back to the pilots in flight simulators example. How comfortable would you feel getting on a plane if your pilot’s only experience came from reading a digital session and taking a written test? 

Enter training in Web 3.0, a new development that promises us a decentralized, user driven, fairer internet. A clear picture of Web 3.0 or Web3 as it is known is still evolving. What we do know is that Web3 will change the face of L&D as learners expect more authentic experiences that they can control and customize to their learning pace and environments (work from home and otherwise). 

Learning in the Metaverse

The metaverse, a key concept of Web 3, is the evolution of the internet. Rather than connecting machines to machines, you will now travel to a central place of communication. The channels for this new level of communication and collaboration are virtual and augmented reality. Together, they form Extended Reality, also known as XR. 

Benefits of XR Training

XR training is the new age of learning. Thanks to XR, your physical location is no longer a limitation. Trainers can live in one country and onboard a group of new employees scattered throughout the globe. The team can work together as if they were in one room because while connected, they are. 

Training in a virtual space is the opportunity we have all dreamed of for a long time. You can now ditch the old ways of teaching in favor of an experiential approach. You’ll cut down training time, engage your personnel, and teach the way human beings learn best.

Who Is Using XR Training? 

Here are some examples of companies already taking advantage of XR training: 

  • Ford Motor Company: Worked with Bosh to develop a VR training tool for their service technicians
  • Dermalogica: Uses a VR training program complete with an AI trainer for its 100,000 skin therapists
  • Bank of America: VR program consists of 20 simulations for its workforce of 50,000

The New Age of Learning: Wrap-Up

The key to successfully training a new generation of people is to look forward and not back. Robert Lambrechts of Pereira O’Dell said it best, “I don‘t think there‘s ‘going back‘ to anything. That world, whatever we did in January 2020, doesn‘t exist anymore.”

The skills gap continues to grow. Traditional schools are not keeping up with the demands of today and online training is not enough. Employees are looking to their employers to coach and develop them using methods not stuck in the past. 

As trainers, it is our responsibility to work to close the skills gap and XR training is one of the best tools available to do it. Edstutia’s trainer certification program is designed to prepare trainers to fully understand instructional design, development, and delivery in XR and to put their best Web3 foot forward in engaging and developing top-notch talent.

Dr Yogini Joglekar is COO of Edstutia and Senior Consultant at PeopleSmart, specializing in change leadership, communication, and learning technologies.

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