In a recent OpenSesame webinar L&D expert, Donald Taylor, explored this year’s digital learning trends and what they mean for the future of workplace learning. Learn more about these trends in our recap below and watch his webinar on demand now.
Though the methodology of how people learn best remains the same over time, trends in learning techniques change based on the current cultural, social, and economic environment.
So, just what are the current hottest trends in workplace learning?
We asked L&D expert Donald Taylor – Chairman of the Learning Technologies Conference and researcher and writer in workplace learning and performance technologies – to break it down for us. So, just what are the current hottest trends in workplace learning?
In the Global Sentiment Survey, we asked the global HR and L&D community – “What will be hot in workplace learning in 2022?” from the list of 15 options above, and they delivered! Here are the results.
Digital Learning Trends of 2022
For 2022, the top three workplace learning trends include reskilling/upskilling, collaborative or social learning, and personalization/adaptive delivery. Let’s examine each of these more closely.
Learning Trend #1: Reskilling/Upskilling
The #1 learning trend for 2022 is reskilling and upskilling – in the same position as 2021, but not as “hot” – in other words, not as many people voted for this as they did the year before (down by 0.5%).
Reskilling involves learning new skills to do a different job, or training employees to do a different job, while upskilling means learning additional skills to advance one’s skill set, close talent gaps, or move further along an employee’s career path.
Learning Trend #2: Collaborative or Social Learning
Collaborative or social learning comes in at the #2 learning trend for this year (up by 0.2%). Just like it sounds, collaborative learning involves people working together to solve problems, learn new ideas and concepts, or complete specific tasks. Learning collaboratively means people can draw on each other’s skills and resources to reach outcomes.
Learning Trend #3: Personalization/Adaptive Delivery
The #3 learning trend for the year – personalized learning/adaptive delivery – involves customizing the training and delivery methods to the needs of the learner. It means tailoring the content and platforms to each person’s unique skills, abilities, and interests.
Pushing content via adaptive delivery means moving away from the traditional, one-size-fits-all approach and instead creating pathways and feedback specific to each individual.
The L&D Global Sentiment Survey takes the pulse of the L&D community worldwide, annually. The one-minute online poll asks L&D professionals internationally what they think will be hot in the following year. Each person votes for 3 of 15 options, presented in random order. These answers provide a fascinating look at trends in what people in L&D are thinking. Published each year in February and in its ninth year, the survey attracts responses from thousands of respondents in over 100 countries.
The One Pitfall to Avoid
For the first time this year, respondents could reply in free text to an optional question ‘What is your biggest L&D challenge in 2022?’
Three categories accounted for almost half of the comments: learner engagement (17%), going hybrid (15%) and proving value to stakeholders (15%). These results show the impact of the last two years of pandemic. COVID-19 forced many to work online, and it reduced budgets and resources for L&D.
Those in workplace L&D will turn to reskilling, upskilling, personalization and particularly on coaching and mentoring to avoid these challenges. Focusing on helping individuals build their skills for the future will certainly help with the issue of engagement.
Regional Differences in Learning Trends
As you can see in the graph below, there are some key regional differences in how L&D professionals from around the world responded to what’s hot in learning. Although the results are subjective, we can do our best to interpret the data based on cultural and geographic information from each region.
- In regions that favor individualism or have a strong culture of the self (such as North America and, to an extent, Europe) personalization and adaptive delivery is more valued.
- In regions that favor a collective cultural mentality, such as South America and Africa, collaborative learning is valued over personalization.
- All regions value both social learning and personalization – perhaps indicating the intersection of technology with the need for human connection via learning.
The Pandemic’s Affect on Learning Trends
COVID-19 has definitely had an impact on learning trends.
A Google trends search for rescaling and upskilling shows that it became more popular in the latter part of 2019. The initial conversation around these topics was all about automation and AI – people needed new jobs for a new future of work.
Then COVID hit, and companies were forced to adapt to virtual environments with new skills required to perform – or to new jobs altogether. Then, they were called back into the office and asked to learn new skills or perform different roles. Now, the current workplace environment is a mixture of the past and present – automation/AI and learning new skills – thus the need for both reskilling and upskilling.
In addition, the promotion of collaborative learning to the #2 spot could indicate that people are craving social interaction and human connection more than ever before.
It should also be noted that collaborative learning (up 0.2%) and coaching and mentoring (up 0.6%) were the only options to rise last year. In fact, Donald predicts coaching and mentoring to rally for the next year at least (70% confidence). Backed by technology, it’s time has come.
Finally, COVID required us to adapt to new solutions and environments, but now we have to decide whether to adopt these solutions moving forward.
All of these factors likely played a role in determining the positions of learning trends on the survey.
As we move further into the second decade of the 21st century post-pandemic, it will be interesting to see if these learning trends remain the same or if others take their place.