The quest for digital innovation in L&D has taken a massive leap and is showing positive momentum since the last few years. The year 2018 witnessed developments in the way learning and training are conducted in workplaces and encouraged many organisations to explore new innovations in corporate learning and reinvent themselves to smoothly embrace digital transformation.

What is driving the digital learning transformation?

The two factors, which are driving digital learning transformation are:

1. Investment in digital learning continues to grow 
2.The disruptive business environment.

How can the L&D approach the digital transformation in 2019?

The digital transformation in L&D is not simply about adopting technology or increasing the investment in the technology. Instead, the digital transformation of L&D is only successful when there is a change in the mindset of the learners i.e it requires a cultural shift that supports continuous learning enabled through technology and consumed in the form of any time and anywhere learning.  The organisation should attempt to shift from classroom training to the new ways of learning be it e-learning, mobile learning, microlearning, gamification of learning, VR enabled learning etc.

Here are some simple ways that can work for the L&D teams approaching the digital learning transformation:

1.Set a clear, ambitious vision for digital learning

For a smooth digital learning transformation in L&D, there should be a clear understanding of the learning objectives that are aligned to the business goals. Drawing out a vision for digital learning requires a consensus and involvement of the top management and business unit heads of the various business functions and the role of L&D moves to being a facilitator and enabler to ensure that the learning objectives are designed as per the business requirements.

L&D units need to be able to identify and list down the competencies required for successfully doing business in a digital economy (knowledge, skills and attitudes of both leaders and employees)and broaden its scope from the traditional learning techniques primarily driven by classroom training to non traditional learning methodologies as well as support the informal learning ways. This can help the organisations as well as the learners to know what is their role and what is expected from them.

2. Identify how can training technologies help in achieving these objectives

Gamification, game-based learning, VR, AR and more. The year 2018 saw the corporate L&D talking about these new technologies in learning. Rather than jumping into using random learning techniques, I encourage the organizations to take a close look at the different approaches and choose the right one.  For example, while VR and AR are hailed as the future of learning, I still feel that it might take another year or more to reach the stage of maturity and see wider adoption as now there are several barriers like high cost of development, low ROI etc but these do not imply that experimentation in AR and VR for learning should not be done.

3.Transfer of ownership to the individual learner

Learning and development is no longer the function of the L&D team alone. Instead, the L&D team should give impetus to the learners by involving them while formulating the digital learning plans and vision. Identify the early adopters, and encourage them to spearhead the digital transformation and allow them to be influencers. When the learners enjoy the ownership of learning it brings a sense of responsibility and accountability. It is also recommended to implement the digital transformation in a top-down approach to bring a wider acceptance and authenticity to the digital learning plan.

4.Support for technology

Make sure to back them with the essentials and have a good support system in place. I recommend checking if you have all the technology in a place like a learning management system with a focus towards future corporate learning.
Ensure that you don’t fall into a trap of purchasing an outdated LMS, you can read my blog here to know how to choose an LMS.

5. Don’t rush to implement the transformation, take the baby steps

I encourage a step by step process in adopting the digital learning transformation in the year 2019. Taking baby steps is the right approach to transformation. If a big overhaul of the learning strategy is introduced overnight and the employees are expected to simply accept, adjust and adapt without any questions, they may actually fear the change and get intimidated. This can derail the entire process and experience.
Hence, ensure that there is a step by step process where the feedbacks at each stage is collected and handled well. Make sure that every issue is rectified and not left alone  This helps in instilling confidence among the learners.

6. Make it social

From the four walls of traditional classroom training, L&D department must open the doors to the digital transformation that welcomes social learning. Technologies, tools and social websites etc have changed the way people connect,communicate and network with colleagues and peer learners. Workplace learning which was mostly administered only through the formal channels is now witnessing a  quantum shift as the learners prefer to use informal channels like social chat apps, social websites, and forums to share and exchange information. Thus the role of L&D is now to more of a facilitator, enabling the smooth knowledge transfer and ensuring the genuinity and quality of learning content.

Hence in my opinion, L&D has to seize the opportunity to act as an enabler for the business to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation as it is no more an option rather a business necessity. Feel free to share your suggestions and recommendations using the comment box below.