Training Industry Magazine - September/October 2017 - 55

TECH TALK
AMAR DHALIWAL

THE FUTURE BELONGS TO

EXPERIENCE DESIGN

The world of corporate learning
is undergoing the most radical
transformation in a generation.
The impact of new technologies (AI,
machine learning, collaboration, etc.),
the onset of the Fourth Industrial
Revolution (digitization, robotics, and
cyber-physical systems) and sweeping
demographic
changes
(the
gig
economy and the rise of millennials) are
placing a new set of demands on
learning professionals.
These changes provide an opportunity
for the learning department to reinvent
itself and establish a new strategic
position inside of their organizations.
What should such a roadmap for change
look like?

YOU SHOULD
OBSESS ABOUT YOUR
LEARNER'S JOURNEY.
As
Jean-Baptiste
Alphonse
Karr
prophetically stated in 1849, "The more
that changes, the more things stay
the same." In learning, this could not
be truer. Ever since the emergence of
e-learning and learning management
systems (LMS) in the 1990s, there has
been no shortage of technology at
our disposal.
However, whereas we previously focused
on the tools - which resulted in a lack of
engagement and strategic impact - we
have the opportunity today to focus on
the ultimate outcome: the employee
experience. Just as we use consumercentric apps like Netflix for our

entertainment, AirBnB for our lodgings,
and Uber for our transportation, we
need the learning we deliver to be as
easy and as intuitive to use as these ondemand services.
Rather than a focus on buzz phrases
such as "data-driven learning" or
"microlearning," we should focus on the
learner experience. This means a very
fundamental switch from "instructional
design" to "experience design." You
must be experts in, and champions of,
service design thinking. You should
obsess about your learner's journey and
produce learning that is simple and easy
in the flow of work.
A basic tenet of good design is that form
follows function. In the exact same way,
the technology, content and learning
programs you select should follow from
the employee-centric learner journeys
and experiences you design.
The huge advantage of this approach
is that the conversations you need to
have with your business partners and
employees in the design of your learner
journeys will force a strategic alignment
that is often missing.
There is a lot of chatter about whether
the LMS era is over. I don't believe it is
today, but the signs are there that it may
be in the near future. The LMS paradigms
that were previously built were focused
on the idea of a course catalog construct
that makes sense for formal education.
But that no longer feels relevant for
today's learning journeys.
As a result, the LMSs we built tended to
be very hard to use; they were admincentric and not learner-centric. They

now often contain thousands of courses
(many outdated and irrelevant), and
most employees justifiably find them of
limited value.
If the past belonged to LMSs, the future
belongs to learning experience platforms.
I suggest you start planning now and
watch your strategic impact grow.
This does not imply that classroombased learning is also going away.
Instructor-led events play a very
important role, but almost inevitably as
part of a broader mixed program.
Josh Bersin calls these types of programs
"macrolearning" (as a very explicit
contrast to microlearning, which serves
a very different purpose and solves
very different problems). He goes on
to say that while we used to call these
programs "courses," in the context of
digital learning, they are simply "macro"
in size and should be designed for use in
special ways.
Despite the influx of so many exciting
technologies,
training
initiatives
will inevitably be a combination of
macrolearning
and
microlearning.
This is no different than how we have
approached things in the past, but
with a very important difference. We
have to let the programs, including the
content and tools, be driven by both
the learner journeys we need to support
and the employee experiences we need
to deliver.
Amar Dhaliwal is the chief evangelist at
EdCast. He was co-founder of THINQ and,
after its acquisition by Saba in 2005, led
Saba's product, engineering, cloud and
customer operations teams. Email Amar.

T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT 20 1 7 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - September/October 2017

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