Every industry has innovations that shift attention and methods in one direction or the other. The training industry is no different. Twenty years ago, training industry trends emphasized increased skill requirements, a better-educated workforce, corporate restructuring and managing change in training departments. Now, our ever-changing world of technology and new ideas in learning is bringing forward more challenges and innovations.
Here are a few innovations and training industry trends that have entered the scene of learning. Some have been around a little while and others are just gaining popularity.
Training Trend #1 - Gamification
Gamification has risen in popularity over the last few years and is designed to making learning fun. The concept is that if material is presented in an enjoyable and competitive way, learners will be more inclined to remember and apply it. Learning-centered game formats vary greatly, but the primary components usually involve leader boards to promote competition, scenario-based knowledge tests and some element of progression, such as achieving a “next level” of learning.
Challenges: Many gamification methods are not in line with solving key business problems; therefore, many executives have a hard time seeing its value. Additionally, poor gamification design or half-hearted implementation can make the programs seem superfluous, It’s also difficult to continue to create fresh games or challenges that serve educational purposes. A “new” game can quickly become stale and boring, defeating the purpose of gamification in the first place.
Gamification is a method that the industry is still testing, adjusting and repackaging. It’s a highly competitive space, with dozens of companies promoting their unique spin. We think gamification will remain an important part of the learning space as it evolves with advancements in technology and the millennials dominating the workforce.
Training Trend #2 - Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality has been around for years and has deep roots in the gaming industry. The training industry has emraced this trend as a way of introducing audiences to a new concept or experience. Virtual reality typically involves the use of a headset to simulate an actual environment where the user has the ability to respond to that environment through movement. The application of this technology differs greatly from one industry to the other. For example: healthcare is using virtual reality for practice surgeries, manufacturing is using it to see machines in ways that normally would be unsafe or impossible and law enforcement is using virtual reality to train on potentially hazardous scenarios.
Challenges: Mainstream access to virtual reality technology is a new phenomenon and the technology is being pushed beyond its tested limits. For example, virtual reality scenarios are only programmed for a select few potential actions, therefore not allowing the full range of real-world possibilities necessary for applicable training. Furthermore, the technology is still expensive to develop, making it cost-prohibitive for many companies to develop their own versions.
Virtual reality still has a long way to mature, however, it will likely be a powerful and commonplace technology in the training room of the future.
Training Trend #3 - Blended Learning
Blended learning has been around for decades and is commonly defined as the mix of synchronous (live, instructor-led training) and asynchronous training (on demand). In a blended classroom, learners may take online courses prior to attending a live, instructor-led class. They then spend in-class time applying the concepts. The research varies greatly, but some studies show that retention and application increase in a blended model because students are able to gain base knowledge through self-study and then ask follow-up questions when they are in the live classroom.
Challenges: The challenges involved in implementing a blended learning program are typically centered around technology, acceptance and instructional design. Blended learning involves both an eLearning delivery system and a classroom environment, which requires more sophistication and coordination than a traditional delivery method. Additionally, matching the best delivery method to the content can be an issue, to ensure learners remain equally engaged in the on-demand content as well as in the live classroom.
Blended learning can be very powerful, when implemented correctly. Before moving to a blended model, it’s best to match the delivery medium to the performance objectives of the training.
Training Trend #4 - Hybrid Learning
Hybrid Learning is the combination of virtual technologies and live instructor-led training generally through a video conferencing platform. The virtual students participate in live training as if they were in the classroom. They are able to see, hear and interact with the instructor and fellow participants. Hybrid learning is a relatively new learning model that arose from the need to connect a geographically dispersed learning audience to a live classroom. This method has proven to have many business benefits since it lends itself to fuller classrooms and eliminates travel expenses for those attending the class remotely.
Challenges: The challenges in hybrid learning programs often involve instructor acceptance and lack of research to support the learning benefits of experiencing training in this way. Instructors may be hesitant to deliver a hybrid class thinking they must change their style of teaching; or they may feel uncomfortable with the technology used to deliver a hybrid class.
Hybrid learning is a natural evolution of blended learning and is a more holistic delivery model allowing for asynchronous learning before live, classroom learning and the use of reusable learning segments after a live class for follow-up and review.
Training Trend #5 - Cloud-Based Training Labs
With the advent of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based technologies, virtual training labs have evolved as a natural delivery option—especially for technical training. Instead of locally hosting software PCs, the virtual training lab allows users to connect to live software environments in the cloud. Virtual training labs offer an additional level of control for instructors who may need to monitor and interact with learners’ machines. This technology may be combined with a hybrid classroom, making it a very versatile and powerful delivery option.
Challenges: The most common challenge to cloud-based training labs is adoption and use. While cloud-based technology has been used for some time now, many struggle with understanding how cloud-based labs actually work and all the possible applications.
Cloud-based training labs are an advanced and powerful technology that the technical training industry is rapidly embracing. As more people become aware of the power of cloud-based training solutions, we can expect the demand to grow with it.
What do you think of these current training industry trends? Are they here to stay or simply passing fads? Are you currently utilizing any of them yourself?
For an overview of the benefits and uses of hybrid learning or virtual training labs, view our on-demand webinar.