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Need some tips for keeping up with emerging tech and tools for your L&D department?

Check out my article from the Evolve Solutions Group June 2024 newsletter for 5 tips to keep you up to speed on emerging tech for training design and dev: - image of a middle manager, sitting on the floor, looking only slightly confused, swarmed with different technologies and modalities

Staying Ahead of the Curve: 5 Tips for Keeping Your L&D Department Up to Speed with New Tech and Tools

By Tristia Hennessey, Senior Instructional Technology Strategist

The allure of emerging technology is hard to resist, especially in the dynamic world of L&D. With promises of increased efficiency, enhanced learning experiences, and improved outcomes, it's tempting to dive headfirst into the latest trends. While flashy games and simulations might be effective for some content solutions, they are by no means a silver bullet for all training and development needs.

Implementing emerging tech and new tools can be tricky, especially when working with vendors who specialize in one modality and want to sell it to you, regardless if it’s the best one. When all you have is a hammer, every problem can seem like a nail. It’s up to you to fill your toolbox with a wide range of effective tools – not just different kinds of hammers.

The pitfalls of investing too much time and money in ineffective or inappropriate solutions can leave an organization once burned, twice shy. Meaning that implementing these solutions for the wrong content, audience, or desired outcome, can have worse consequences than just a missed target – orgs might avoid these solutions altogether, even when they would be the best modality, because of past bad experiences.

To help you navigate this landscape and ensure your L&D department remains at the forefront of innovation without falling off the cliff, here are five essential tips for staying up to speed with new tech and tools.

1. How are other orgs doing it? Leverage AI to find out.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transformed many industries, and L&D is no exception. AI might help many training teams generate generic content, but it truly shines in assisting with preliminary research and brainstorming. Platforms like ChatGPT or Google’s Gemini can be (carefully) leveraged to recommend training development tools tailored to your company's specific needs.

Ask AI to identify training development tools relevant to your industry or specific training needs. For instance, you might query, "What are the best tools for creating interactive eLearning content in the healthcare sector for addressing good bedside manner? Provide some real-life examples of companies who used different design and development tools for this purpose." The AI can provide a curated list based on the latest data, saving you time and ensuring you get insight into solutions that have worked for others.

2. Check out other elearning projects or training programs for inspiration.

Reviewing eLearning projects submitted to competitions like the Articulate eLearning Heroes Challenges can provide a wealth of inspiration. These projects often showcase innovative uses of technology and creative instructional design techniques that you can adapt for your own programs. Articulate also has a library of elearning examples to check out for inspiration.

You can also search Google or Youtube for more sources of elearning or training program inspirations. Or you can look for case studies, content development portfolios (like Evolve’s! We have some fun short videos showcasing some of our best work), or check out conference sessions where companies and individual contributors share their work and lessons learned. Many conferences also offer recordings for those who can’t attend in person and most speakers will be happy to chat personally with someone about their work if you reach out with questions.

3. Engage with professional communities on social media.

Social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn, are goldmines for staying updated with the latest trends and tools in L&D. By following groups dedicated to training and development, you can tap into a wealth of shared knowledge and experiences by just reviewing posts for a few minutes each week.

These groups often feature discussions and individual posts on emerging technologies, reviews of new tools, and case studies of successful implementations. Engaging with these communities not only keeps you informed but also provides opportunities to network with other professionals. This can lead to collaborative opportunities and insights that you might not find through traditional research.

4. Schedule regular tech reviews and inspiration sessions.

The goal of many tools is to save time – however, research and analysis are critical for identifying and selecting appropriate modalities (unless you’re fine with bland Powerpoints and narrated, bulleted slides, in which case I doubt you are bothering to read this). While the purpose of this article is to help you identify some ways to save time, it’s not going to altogether eliminate the need to spend time analyzing new tools and modalities – which is why you should outsource.

Bring your team into the loop, assign them to researching new tools, modalities, or approaches to content development on their downtime. Then, schedule regular time, monthly or quarterly, to review their findings and these new technologies and tools, together as a team. During these sessions, your team can bring their personal research together to evaluate and discuss new tools, assess their potential impact, and decide whether they merit further exploration. This is also a great time to bring in and review together some of those training projects or elearning examples found when looking at contest submissions.

Providing some evaluation criteria for your team may also be beneficial for their research efforts as well as encouraging them to step back from the initial excitement of a new modality or tool and consider the pros and cons more realistically. Ask your team to use a SWOT analysis or try looking for an evaluation criteria template you can use.

5. Invest in continuous professional development for your team.

Keeping your L&D team up to speed with new technologies requires ongoing investment in their professional development. Encourage your team members to attend industry conferences, webinars, and workshops. Many of these events focus specifically on the latest trends and tools in the field and often have expos where vendors showcase their solutions for industry folks to learn more about. Sometimes they even offer demos, brochures, or even free extended trials to those who stop by their expo booth to chat.

Moreover, online courses and certifications can be a valuable way to deepen your team's expertise. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses on a wide range of topics, from instructional design, to working with SMEs, to AI in education.

By supporting your team's continuous learning, you ensure they have the knowledge and skills to leverage new technologies and tools effectively, instead of just chasing after the next shiny thing without really knowing how to use it. The more fluency your design and development teams have in using the tools they have access to, the more purposeful creativity they can implement in their training, the more purposeful and creative their training is, the more likely it is to hook your audience and keep them engaged.



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