Covid-19 has dominated this year. It has been a catalyst accelerating existing trends in workplace Learning and Development (L&D). Consider L&D’s usual rate of change: prior to January 2020, it had taken about 20 years to shift training delivery to about 50% online. By April, that figure was at 100%.
Not all of this online delivery was good. Much of it was emergency work, and some of it no more than a poor online rendition of classroom delivery hastily shoved online, but from those quick fixes, new practices have evolved, and L&D teams that were initially overwhelmed are now supporting learning with new skills and practices. One thing is certain: the clock will not be turned back. L&D has evolved rapidly, and it is stronger than ever.
These shifts are, of course, reflected in the Learning Technologies track of OEB 20. The most obvious question being: how did people cope? We look at three separate case studies in the session ‘Moving Online During COVID-19 At Scale’, with Richard Cannane-Zemp, Trafigura PTE LT, Berin McKenzie, United Nations System Staff College and Martin Sinclair, Health Education England sharing their experiences, successes and hard-won lessons for others attempting the same journey.
If Covid-19 has made us consider one thing, it is that the classroom cannot be the default for workplace information transfer, and that, equally, organisations already have a set of mechanisms – technological, inter-personal, systematic – that make up a learning ecosystem. Making the most of this existing ecosystem is crucial for strengthening how people learn at work and we explore that in one of our many panel sessions, with speakers Ivana Curic, Wooga, Adrian Acton, Kiwi.com and Patrick Parrish, World Meteorological Organization.
We often say that training and education are essential for organisational survival. Jef Staes, Red Monkey, would disagree, or, to be precise, he would say that they are not enough by themselves. In a characteristically engaging and challenging session, ‘Organisations are Jungles’, Jef will put forward the idea that passion, talent and personal re-invention are the essential elements of development which will support organisational success in the future.
A perennial issue in our field is the skills of the practitioners. These have been changing for many years now, driven by new technology, the need for business acumen, and a wider remit that now encompasses performance as much as it does learning. That change has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Andy Lancaster, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and I will look at what the new world of L&D requires in ‘Essential Skills and Behaviours of the New L&D’.
We are all more aware now of the multi-generational workforce in most organisations. Inge de Waard, EIT InnoEnergy, has interviewed a range of over 50s about their lives, and in ‘Learning after 50?’ presents her findings, which strongly support the idea that late bloomers are not unusual. On the contrary, learning is a natural activity at every stage of life, and we ignore it among the over 50s to our detriment.
The perennial issue of linking learning to business value will be tackled in ‘Future Proof L&D: From Learning Value to Business Value’ with Jos Arets, Vivian Heijnen and Charles Jennings, 70:20:10 Institute where they describe how to make the shift from a focus on learning to one on the business by reshaping how L&D does its job, shifting to a value-based model of work.
Often associated with business value, data and analytics are now a crucial part of the role of L&D. In “Data and Analytics”, speakers including Oliver Andre, Siemens AG, will share how they have used data to keep L&D on track, and to demonstrate its effectiveness to the organisation.
Content design remains a key part of the role of L&D, but it has changed. In ‘Redesigning Learning for the Digital Age’ we explore practical examples of organisations that have made a success of this, moving learning online, often very rapidly, including programmes which might seem impossible to digitize, such as onboarding programmes. Alvaro Caballero, ING, Joanna Emmerich, European Patent Office, Robert May, Ivoclar Vivadent AG and Geraldine Voost, Bronkhorst High-Tech, share their experiences on this panel.
Similarly, in “Designing Virtual Training Classes”, we explore how to take existing face-to-face content and move it online, with a case studies from a wide range of companies. Speakers include Daniela Martini, CRIMEDIM, Petar Mitrovic, Adidas, Dirk Funke, WACKER Chemie AG and Ines Groemminger-Gueth, BASF.
Meanwhile, we take a broader look at design in ‘Design Thinking Meets Curriculum Design: a New Approach for Learner-centred Blended Learning’. Franziska Kroh, Daniel Wolferts and Andreas Pippow of Fraunhofer FIT lead this practical, interactive session.
One of the dominant themes of the past 5 years in L&D has been personalisation, the focus of Petra Peeters, Ger Driesen and Marlo Kengen’s session, in which they explore a 6-facet model for personalisation aiming both to put an end to the confusion over the term and to provide practical guidance on how to apply it to learning in the workplace.
Another topic at the forefront of L&D recently, and brought into sharp focus during Covid-19, is trust in the modern workplace. Jochen Hekker, LiDRS and David Rault, Pictet Wealth Management tackle this, examining how to develop those interpersonal skills that enable relationship building. Can something so intangible be learned? It turns out that it can, using a well-constructed programme, the right technology, and by helping people tap into their own potential.
These are just some of the sessions and speakers in OEB 20’s Learning Technologies track, which offers many opportunities to discuss trends and best practices in workplace L&D.
Written for OEB20 by Donald H. Taylor, Chair of the OEB Learning Technologies Conference Track.