The proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” has never rung more true. As a result of the global pandemic, our lives have changed dramatically in the first half of 2020 and will continue to change in the future. Organizations are experiencing a multitude of unexpected challenges as a result of new consumer demands, massive unemployment, and the need for new or updated skill sets.

However, with challenge comes opportunity. Now is the time for teams, learning and development (L&D) teams in particular, to step up and be the department that seizes this moment to reevaluate priorities and innovate to support the business.

To get started, here are some ideas for learning leaders to consider:

Upping Our Digital Learning Game

L&D must scale existing digital learning capabilities. Organizations that already have learning technologies in place have an advantage. However, it’s not too late to up your digital learning game. Many just-in-time technologies are available and offer extended-trial versions for free. Additionally, cloud-based solutions can be implemented quickly.

Think outside of the learning management system (LMS) box, and try tools with a relatively flat learning curve and modern user interface. However, keep in mind that quality online learning contains well-designed and pedagogically grounded content.

Leveraging In-House Data

The shift to working from home and remote learning came with an increasing amount of staff-generated data. In addition to LMSs, many organizations have online learning libraries, web conferencing software, learning experience platforms (LXPs) and employee knowledge sharing repositories. With the amount of data we glean from these systems, L&D has an opportunity to leverage data to gain a greater understanding of how people learn.

Data analytics is more compelling than ever, as lean operations will be the norm for the foreseeable future. To justify expenditure, L&D must make use of data to prove the value of their learning initiatives.

Upskilling and Reskilling Take Center Stage

In the global pandemic, employees’ appetite for learning is voracious. With many people unemployed or displaced – employees need access to resources that will guide them through transitions and aid in the development of new abilities. L&D needs to pivot to a more flexible and fluid approach to support learning with the flow of work.

Learning professionals are perfectly positioned to work with business units to conduct skill gaps inventories, develop strategies, repurpose current learning and performance support materials, set up internal support mechanisms, and gain executive buy-in.

Humanizing Technology

As we deploy technologies for virtual meetings, social learning and collaboration, L&D professionals must consider the user experience. Some learners have little exposure to these tools and are simultaneously navigating the new normal. For others, it is a time for deepening their understanding of technology. Regardless, working and learning from home can leave learners feeling disconnected.

As online interactions increase, there is a greater need to connect on a more human and emotional level. Ethical and responsible design methodology considers how to make technologies accessible to people of all abilities and backgrounds. L&D can adopt this practice in the design of online learning experiences.

I am an optimist, and my hope is that L&D will shine amid disruption by adding value to the business with innovation and agility.