Digital disruption has been finding its way rather aggressively into the L&D space – big data learning analytics, AI-powered adaptive learning management systems, blockchains for educational credentials, VR-based compliance training, chatbot tutors, and automated assessment marking based on machine learning algorithm are just a few examples of technologies that are fueling the learning market right now.

As L&D professionals, how do we manage the tsunami of change that is the daily reality of workplace learning? The ability to learn about these digital disruptions and to implement them requires agility. Here is a list of actionable suggestions for you to start cultivating an agile mindset.

Be Lifelong Learners

Rapid change and disruption require us to update and refresh our knowledge continuously. As learning professionals, we ought to seek out new and diverse learning opportunities. According to the Class Central Learner Survey, 23 million new learners signed up for their first massive open online course (MOOC) in 2017, taking the total number of learners to 81 million. Aside from many online learning platforms to choose from, consider joining communities such as Meetup, subscribing to blogs, online journals, and following key trends and thought leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn. In addition, think tank organizations like the World Economic Forum often publish emerging technology trends. In general, it is good practice to keep look beyond the L&D space at the digital transformation landscape at large.

Get Familiar with the Tools

As new tools and platforms emerge, get access to them and try them out first-hand. Many digital tools offer test modules, sandboxes and free versions for download. Vendors are also keen on setting up demo sessions and go over product features, so leverage these options. You don’t need to be an instant expert in chatbot programming or VR creation, but it helps to have foundational knowledge of these modern technologies to think beyond the LMS box. Jane Hart at Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies maintains an up-to-date directory of learning and performance tools. It is a great place to start.

Learn from Other Departments

Build a community of practice beyond your own discipline by connecting and collaborating with related business units such as marketing, IT, and customer service. There is a lot to be gained by understanding how to craft an effective message from a marketing standpoint. IT folks can decipher some of the technological terms for you when dealing with new technology such as machine learning and quantum computing, and customer service best practices can help you engage your stakeholder groups better. By learning from other units, L&D departments also can be better business partners to build capabilities and facilitating knowledge transfer within the organization.

Be Proactive Change Agents

Amidst all the disruptions and changes, L&D professionals need to take an active role in change management and be strategic about change. We need to shift our mindset so it comes from a lens of change, adaptation and constant transitioning. Along with a learning strategy, a change vision needs to be created, and be part of the overarching message.  Modern workplace learning is a continuous process, not a one-off event. To prepare the business and its employees, a structured change management framework needs to be in place. L&D can really drive this process by aligning the case for change with the deployment of new learning experiences and technologies, assessing the change readiness for different types of learning, and to mitigate employee’s anxiety by offering day-to-day support and periodic check-ins. Prosci and The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) are two change management organizations that can help you learn how to manage change.

Understanding how technology is transforming businesses takes awareness and deliberate effort. To thrive in the face of digital disruption, we as L&D practitioners must remain flexible in our strategies and approaches, continuously learning, building collaborations, transferring knowledge across the organization, and being at the center of change.