In a 2018 blog post, we declared eLearning dead. We were being a little cheeky and a little subversive, but our point was that we were living in an increasingly digital age and that we needed to think about the way we designed digital learning products — from having unified principles of design to wondering aloud if learners dreamed in corporate jargon. Little did we know that just two years later, as a result of a global public health crisis, we would be witnessing one of the greatest shifts in recent history in the ways we work.

Remote Shifts in Thinking

What will we learn or take away from this whole new remote world we’re in? Jobs that were never before viewed as being possible to do remotely are being done just that way. Whole employee populations that have never had to communicate virtually are finding it a new way of doing business. Providing access to essential systems remotely is a necessity for ensuring the ongoing work of the organization. In a LinkedIn post that came across in our feed, the comment “three years of digital transformation, accomplished in three weeks” speaks volumes. We are in the midst of a tectonic shift in the ways we work and learn. The new normal has yet to emerge.

What do these changes mean for the learning profession? We believe it is an opportunity to rethink the ways we design, develop and deliver learning. Learning opportunities that no one ever considered delivering virtually are being conducted remotely — and giving rise to new learning roles, like the remote producer. Learning and development (L&D) professionals are looking for ways to embed the delivery of content and context into the flow of work more than ever before, leveraging tools like chat and messaging, often for the first time. How do we apply the lessons learned about those activities to the future of learning?

In 2018, Training Industry released a research report entitled “What Learners Want: Strategies for Training Delivery.” It is no surprise that instructor-led classroom training was still king; however, the real headline was multimodal delivery. If you deliver learning in multiple modalities, as long as one of a learner’s preferred modalities is included, he or she will view the learning experience more positively. The opportunity for us to adopt new strategies for multimodal learning during this time of disruption can shift the way we deliver learning for years to come.

Preparing for the Future of Remote Working and Learning

To transform the way learning happens inside organizations, we must shake off the yoke of the past and stare the future straight in the eye. ​With that in mind, here are some questions every L&D leader and professional should consider:

    • How well do you understand your learning technology stack? What do you need to add or subtract from it? What new forms of learning need to emerge?
    • When was the last time you reviewed your learning technology stack? How has the current environment changed your view of it?
    • How does your organizational learning strategy need to change as we are learning in this time of disruption? How does your model for staffing the learning organization change?
    • How do you build the business case for change?
    • How do you engage learners in this new “normal”? What will that experience look like?

We are in a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. However, we are all on this journey together, and together, we learn.