The year 2018 has some big things to offer on the L&D front. Learning in the workplace is influenced by some new and innovative technologies that are revolutionizing the whole experience. What exactly are these technological trends that have become the cornerstone of L&D in this year?

1. Mobility as a Must-Have

According to GMSA Intelligence, almost 75 percent of smartphone users globally watch online videos on their phones. And while video is just one component of content consumption on mobile devices, it gives a taste of the mobility reality today. In fact, according to Strategy Analytics, in 2022, the global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people or 42.5 percent of the global workforce.

Since people now use myriad devices on any given day, learning should work across multiple devices and responsive systems to provide learners a seamless, flexible learning experience on any device and at any time. Organizations are also increasingly relying on offline apps – again, a seamless and convenient way to deliver training content to users who have limited or even no internet connectivity. In fact, mobile learning has become so ubiquitous that more learners are now downloading their courses to consume offline on their mobile devices while they are on the go, even in locations with unreliable internet access.

Needless to say, mobiles are the device of choice when it comes to performance support tools, too, with their always “on,” portable and just-in-time delivery.

2. Emergence of a Learning Ecosystem

According to LinkedIn, 68 percent of employees prefer to learn at work, 58 percent prefer to learn at their own pace and 49 percent prefer to learn at the point of need. Different employees have different learning needs, and the onus is on L&D to satisfy them. And sometimes, relying on a single platform or solution may not suffice.

The good news is that today’s technological solutions enable easy integration with third-party systems, apps and tools. In addition, ready integration with online libraries or course marketplaces is not a “good-to-have” but a “must-have.” From a learner and an organizational perspective, a learning system that offers support for an online course marketplace gives a massive advantage, as it opens the door to a wide learning repository beyond what is available in house. Platforms with the ability to integrate with multiple systems are also important, because they support a complete learning ecosystem instead of multiple disparate entities.

3. Artificial Intelligence Comes to Work

In the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Study, millennials were asked what the next big technology trend is globally, and almost one-third said artificial intelligence (AI). AI systems can identify each learner’s needs and develop content accordingly. Learners are free to explore topics in depth, and their knowledge is tested in complex scenarios.

Adaptive learning, which uses artificial intelligence, customizes the design and delivery of learning based on each learner’s individual learning needs and performance in real time. Introducing adaptive learning into a training strategy is a great way to enhance learner engagement.

Chatbots, which are fueled by AI, are also pervading the workplace this year. Chatbots, which are programs that facilitate text conversations and integrate them into the training process, can go a long way in boosting employee productivity. According to Gartner, by 2021, more than 50 percent of enterprises will spend more each year developing bots and chatbot than developing traditional mobile apps.

4. Learner Engagement Takes Precedence

The 2018 LinkedIn report points out that one of the major reasons employees say they are not engaging in workplace learning is because they don’t have the time. It is up to L&D to engage employees in training and development initiatives that do not hamper their work schedules and are not imposed upon them.

Gamification makes learning engaging while helping employees retain and apply new knowledge. In 2018, gamification, either in the form of learning content (as game-based learning) or a learning platform with game mechanics, will have a significant impact on training.

L&D can also benefit from platforms that enable social learning and knowledge collaboration for the exchange of ideas. Social learning creates the much-needed informal learning setting where learners can network, collaborate, and exchange ideas and knowledge.

5. The Accelerated Shift Toward the Cloud

Gartner predicts that by 2021, more than half of the global enterprises that use cloud in 2018 “will adopt an all-in cloud strategy.” A cloud environment increases the pace and accuracy of decision-making while making the data accessible to all employees anywhere, anytime and across multiple devices.

Cloud also translates to agility in designing and developing learning. Agile learning is also assuming more importance this year. Seventy-eight percent of L&D managers told Udemy that their biggest challenge is “keeping their employees’ skills up to speed with change.” With much to deliver, L&D will have to ensure that for external as well as internal content, they rely on agile learning systems for turnkey solutions.

In short, technology is assuming a massive role in learning and development in 2018 and beyond. It only makes sense for L&D professionals to keep pace and incorporate the latest trends to provide an enhanced learning experience to the workforce.