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Nigel Walpole

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Will 2015’s best L&D practices carry over into 2016?


At this time of year, we have loads of discussions with fellow L&D professionals – customers, contacts and connections - and inevitably the conversation turns to ‘what do you expect to happen next year?’

I thought you’d be interested to see what is being said. Fascinatingly, there is some dispute especially in relation to the ongoing advance of digital and social media against face-to-face learning but obviously unique organisations will face unique challenges.

The Need to Know Your Learners

Many people recognised that learners increasingly demand instant solutions. As a result it was felt that L&D will have to engage with each learner much more deeply to gain insights into what individuals really want and their learning preferences. The next stage will then be enabling people to access that solution as quickly as possible.

Data Will Bond Online and Face to Face Learning

The word ‘metrics’ appeared in nearly every conversation. L&D professionals tend to have good data on all their digital learning programs, but there has never been quite such strong analytics in relation to face-to-face learning (is there still a lot of reliance on learners completing validation forms?). In 2016, there will be an increase in integrating needs analysis and feedback data to better understand where the learner is on their learning journey.  

Peer Recommendations

Studies were quoted which show that more people increasingly turn to their peers and managers for recommendations about learning rather than rely on their L&D departments. In reaction to this, many L&D departments have put in place learning ambassadors in operational areas of the business but nearly every one recognised that, in 2016, they will need to strengthen and reinforce this.

Learning in a Digital World

Has digital has become the learning medium? If you ask any L&D professional this question, everyone recognises that the learner journey has become more complex. They hear ‘digital learning’ and ‘mobile learning’ as rallying cries from learners and line managers.  

But they recognise that, actually, there’s an even bigger picture emerging: it’s social - but many voice concern over the difficulties of controlling it.

The Acceleration of Personalisation

Not wholly new for 2016 but many people felt there would be a definite acceleration in this area. Based on available data learning content will be being optimised as technology allows personalisation to become a reality.

Getting Back to Basics

For some it will be time to get back to basics. Perhaps they will have been caught up in some new-fangled technology but their dream of ‘seamless’ blending of learning got ‘clouded’. As one person said: “it’s definitely a balancing act, and we need to get that balance right”.

Being Human Will Return to Learning

In similar vein, some people were sensing a backlash – “learners have said to me that they don’t care about learning paradigms and algorithms; they want to be inspired”.

They see a shift away from digitalisation and learners focussing on what enables them to learn. “Interaction, engagement and training skills will again take centre stage to win over hearts and minds”.

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Nigel Walpole


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