The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming industries and fundamentally changing the way we work and live. As the nature of work evolves, learning is key to managing and embracing this new workplace.

Looking back, 2019 brought a lot of excitement about future of learning, from using blockchain to verify educational credentials to voice-based interfaces. Technology is a form of pedagogy; it shapes the way we think about and design learning experiences. As we look to the future, learning will continue to be shaped by emerging technological innovations, as well as our rate of adoption in the learning and development (L&D) space.

At a high level, I envision the future of workplace learning with the following characteristics:

Highly Personalized Learning Experience

There will be an increased demand for experiential and personalized learning, especially as users’ interactions with online learning become more sophisticated, and the focus shifts further toward an emphasis on quality, personalized content. L&D will need instructional designers who look beyond page-turner e-learning courses and incorporate design thinking approaches and a variety of learning modalities to cater to the needs and preferences of learners. Adaptive learning paths, recommender systems, learner- and peer-curated content, and virtual coaches will continue to improve and rise in demand. It will serve us well to become acquainted with how these learning tools support a better learning experience.

Data-driven Insights

Analytics technologies have matured over the years, with some applications being used to process data in real time to measure learner attitudes, sentiments, readiness, progress and levels of engagement. With these capabilities, organizations have new opportunities to assess, measure and improve learning.

While it will become increasingly commonplace for digital tools to have built-in machine learning capacities for analytics, L&D often lacks the ability to leverage this data effectively. According to a 2018 Towards Maturity study, 51% of L&D professionals say that they cannot meaningfully use data due to a lack of in-house skills. As a result, around one in 10 organizations never analyze the data it collects. It is time for us to bridge this skill gap and equip ourselves with the tools necessary to interpret and present data.

Digital Fluency Required

According to the 2019 “EDUCASE Horizon Report,” “Digital fluency is the ability to leverage digital tools and platforms to communicate critically, design creatively, make informed decisions, and solve wicked problems while anticipating new ones.”

Digital literacy is no longer adequate to keep up with the complex needs of retraining and upskilling. Learning solutions come in many forms, including plenty with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. L&D professionals need digital fluency to understand how best to make use of these solutions.

Working Is the New Learning

Working is now learning. AI and automation will replace components of our jobs, and we will be required to take on new tasks as a result. This requires us to learn new skills and let go of old mindsets. As learning practitioners, we need to modify our roles with business strategies.

We also need to consider how everyday technologies and productivity tools are being used for learning at work. YouTube, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype and many more are being used for knowledge-sharing, collaboration and learning. More than ever, we need to provide instructional design frameworks in these everyday tools so we can integrate them into our repertoires.