Learning Indaba Shines Light On L&D’s Role In Exponential World

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Learning and development professionals have a huge opportunity to be at the forefront of the exponential change taking place in the world today. This was one of the key points highlighted at the New Leaf Technologies Learning Indaba, held virtually and attended by delegates from as far afield as UK on November 23.


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The annual Learning Indaba series offers all members of the profession an opportunity to connect, explore new possibilities and trends and hear from the global authorities in this space.

In his talk at the final Learning Indaba session of the year, Jeroen Wijdeven, an L&D expert from HBTraining in Europe, explained that whereas previously the world had been in “linear mode”, with knowledge not changing to any great degree, it was now very much in exponential mode thanks to the internet.

On average human knowledge was doubling every 13 months and, within the context of learning, it meant there was a lot of pressure on professionals to build skills aligned with new technologies, he said. A big part of this was tapping into the potential of people learning though personal and social digital channels.

Studies show that 40% of working professionals haven’t taken a course since college. But 50% say they learn from an article, video or book every day. If we look at the L&D professional, yes, we create beautiful learning programmes, but we actually come in at the back.

“Where you get learned skillsets is moving towards social and personal. So, it’s a big opportunity for us not to be keepers of knowledge at the back, but at the forefront,” he added. The influence of artificial intelligence was playing a major role in this transition.

New Leaf managing director Michael Hanly and customer success director Philip Hanly recently attended DevLearn, described as the “Disneyworld of L&D”, in Last Vegas. One of the big takeaways from this event was that skills learnt in corporate training needed to align with what the business hoped to achieve more effectively.

Michael told the virtual audience that at one session he had posed the question how AI would impact learning retention.

He was somewhat surprised when Frank Nguyen, an industry heavyweight who has worked at the likes of Amazon and Sears, responded that essentially businesses did not care whether knowledge was retained; what they cared about was that that the information was available to employees when they needed it.

The advantage of AI, Michael said, was that it would help professionals develop more structure and accurate learning paths to meet business demand. In a surprise announcement during the indaba, he revealed that in the past year New Leaf had developed its own AI learning companion, a “source of truth” chatbot called Sprout.

You can upload relevant company information, and it gives user-friendly answers in moments of need. It fits into the aNewSpring learning platform and also links to ChatGPT version 4. Furthermore, it always links to the most current data systems, so you know the information it provides is always current.

Delegates attending the session were also given a detailed briefing on predictive analytics by New Leaf learning solutions architect Kevin Bracegirdle.

He explained that this technology assisted those in the workplace in numerous ways, including the ability to identify employees’ training needs, retain workers by offering growth opportunities, attract top talent and keep employees motivated.

He added,

Predictive data can help anticipate future learning trends. By employing techniques such as data mining, you can embrace a proactive approach that allows you to tailor the content.

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