June 2, 2016

How can L&D use learning analytics to drive performance?

Seven key learning trends are highlighted in a new Open University report. Incidental learning, adaptive teaching, MOOCs, accreditation badges, analytics, e-books and mobile learning are all discussed in the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology’s report.

The research, called ‘Trends in Learning Report 2016’, focuses on the latest innovations in teaching, learning and assessment that are shaping the education and workplace environments.

First off is incidental learning. This is learning that happens without being taught, the kind of learning that happens day to day in the workplace. It might be when cross-functional teams are working together, coming up with solutions to challenges and finding new ways of working. As it is not formalised learning, it has largely gone unrecognised by employers. However, that is changing and organisations are increasingly pulling together and disseminating the incidental learning of employees. The OU predicts that this form of learning will keep growing in importance, particularly as employers realise how technology can further enhance incidental learning, such as through gamification. There is also a proliferation of workplace platforms that facilitate incidental learning, such as the internal social media platform, Yammer, and the cloud-based collaboration tool, Slack.

Adaptive teaching is also gaining in popularity, particularly as more and more adaptive technologies are being developed for the workplace. Adaptive teaching allows for the fact that everyone learns differently, at different speeds and in different ways. It is a data driven, non-linear, computer-based approach to instruction. With adaptive teaching, learning content is adjusted to suit individual needs and challenges. This happens through the use of learning analytics. This suits individual learners and also offers real insights to L&D teams that can inform their learning provision.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are online courses available to anyone with an internet connection, free of charge. They give individuals the power to choose when, where and how they learn. They also offer some strong benefits to L&D. They drive the motivation to learn. They can count towards a professional qualification. And very importantly for some organisations, particularly those that need to offer widespread training, they provide high quality, interactive training courses that can be rolled out easily, quickly and either free of charge or very cheaply.

Accreditation badges refers to digital badges that show that an individual has completed an informal course. Informal skills acquisition historically does not garner much in the way of recognition, but accreditation badges are changing that. Learners can use them to broadcast their achievements to colleagues and friends across social media platforms. The trend towards self-directed learning is helping drive this desire for accreditation badges. L&D can harness the potential of accreditation badges to foster a learning culture, encourage self-directed learning and improve employees’ digital skills. They can count towards individual’s CPD programmes as well.

Learning analytics are so important now. L&D can use learning analytics to gain insightful data that can drive business performance. That data can be about how employees learn, how to best support learner needs, what courses are working, what courses are not working so well and so on.

E-books as learning platforms offer several benefits to L&D. They can enable employees to interact on a global level as they access the same training courses. As with other technology learning trends, they can encourage a more self-sufficient attitude towards learning among employees. They can also be used to capture workplace knowledge and experience – e-books that are co-created by a group of employees, for example.

And last but definitely not least, mobile. L&D has to facilitate mobile learning as it’s how everyone operates these days, at home and at work. L&D needs to get on the bandwagon and facilitate an agile and adaptive learning environment by supporting learners with their mobile needs.

L&D needs to understand the power of all these forms of technology-enabled learning and how best to harness them.