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Impacts of COVID-19 on Learning and Development

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The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global economy and forever changed our professional lives. By now we’re all familiar with the lockdowns, distancing measures, budget cuts and unemployment figures. But what does all this mean for L&D? Here are some of the ways the pandemic has impacted – and will continue to impact – learning and development.

1. Increased spending on virtual training.

While many companies have had to cut costs, it’s not always at the expense of L&D. According to this Training Industry study, 61% of respondents reported that they plan to spend more on training than they did before the pandemic. With over 57% of US employees working from home, and classroom training a no-go for the foreseeable future, it goes without saying that remote learning is where the bulk of this investment will be focused.

2. Need for support in developing digital learning programs.

In the wake of the pandemic, companies scrambled to shift from in-person to virtual learning. Now many are starting to appreciate that a “digital transformation plan” is more than just recording a classroom training and making it available online. As we discussed in-depth in this blog post, the content and format must be tailored to the virtual learning experience. Not everyone is equipped to do this in-house, and many companies will look for external support as they hone their digital learning programs.

3. Changes in training techniques and delivery methods.

According to this survey by Chief Learning Officer, 81% of learning leaders plan to adopt new training techniques, and 70% say their blend of training delivery methods will change. Learning program expert Jim Guilkey advises companies to find the technology options that best meet their needs including video, document sharing and virtual collaboration rooms. Look out for a broader and more accessible range of modalities, especially high-impact, immersive learning experiences such as gamification, interactive videos and AR.

4. Shorter, flexible, self-directed training modules.

Gone are the days of the 2-hour webinar. The new remote working backdrop likely involves a toddler and a dog vying for the participant’s attention, with an older child doing online classes and a spouse trying to get their own work done in the next room. Training programs must adapt to this new reality with shorter content blocks and a flexible, user-controlled experience.

5. Increased demand for custom content and visual resources.

As dedicated training time decreases and everything shifts digital, the importance of efficient, impactful visual content increases. Resources like infographics are a must for their ability to synthesize information and engage participants, but no templates, please. To be truly effective, visuals should be customized to both the training content and context. T&D leaders are already on board, with 73% of respondents in this survey saying they intend to develop more custom content over the next 12-18 months.

Even in these uncertain and disruptive times, companies are smart to keep investing in workforce learning and development. While we don’t know what the future holds, the pandemic has presented an opportunity for innovation, growth and reinvention. Drop us a line if we can help you design a customized L&D program or with any aspect of the transition to virtual learning to suit our new normal.

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