In this week’s QuestionTime we hear the views and opinions of Head of Learning & Development, Carrie Remington.

In your opinion, what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

There’s no doubt about it: technology has disrupted, and continues to disrupt, the world of business… and, of course, the learning and development industry. While innovative designers are often keen to maximise the potential of new advancements, in reality, there is often a lack of understanding throughout the wider organisation – which can cause delays in digital transformation.

Misconceptions can also lead to poor early-adoption rates of certain technologies, making it difficult for even the most forward-thinking companies to lead in learning. Let’s look at cognitive technology, for example. If you were to ask people about artificial intelligence, many may tell you robots are about to take their job. In reality, 80% of executives believe AI is actually set to create new positions; taking on the most repetitive and mundane tasks so staff are free to engage in value-add activities.

Who, or what, is informing your thinking around L&D?

I look to the future – those technologies and methodologies that haven’t yet been tapped into – so that I can inform Volume and we can innovate. That’s why my team is exploring the evolution of how we learn. Our aim in doing so? To create future-proof learning solutions and next-generation Learning Management Systems that can better the businesses of tomorrow, today.

Though most businesses, and many of our clients’ organisations, are at first determined to provide employees with a mass of information through one-size-fits-all training, my approach is different; I believe it was born from my background in marketing. Rather than bombard or bore learners, I prefer to develop user-centric learning resources that offer the workforce real benefits – making them better at what they do, saving them time, or allowing them to meet their objective criteria. This motivates staff to learn and drives them to complete their job to the best standard possible.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

Undoubtedly the biggest game-changer in the Learning & Development industry is set to be the emergence of cognitive computing and machine learning. And they’re not just on the horizon, they’re actually a reality for some of us today – offering know-as-you-go learning, delivered in the right amount, to the right people, at the right time and in the right tone.  Using them, we’re able to provide real-time performance support that learns as its users do, then integrating this with virtual reality headsets to create the most immersive learning experiences.  Artificial intelligence is set to change the way we educate – and are educated – forever.

Are you losing interest in my answers? Right now, I don’t know, but cognitive computing platforms like IBM Watson will. By analysing the nature of your responses in natural language and processing your facial expressions, they can recognise how engaged you are and adapt what you see, hear or do accordingly. This brings an exciting new dimension to digital learning, as for the first time, learning is two-way. Soon, learning won’t feel like learning; it will just be a part of our everyday lives.

What ‘game changers’ would you like to see, and why?

Imagine a world where:

– Learning platforms provide on-going performance support, personalising material so it resonates with each and every employee
– Learning & Development teams work with IT functions and other departments to formulate carefully considered, perfectly planned solutions that innovate
– Learning is powered by leaderboards, and staff pick up points, as well as invaluable information – rushing against the clock to complete on-screen challenges as if they were real
– Education is considered a priority rather than an afterthought, and a necessity rather than an area in which companies can make cuts

That’s what I’d like to see, and I’m working hard to make it happen.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?

Soon, an LMS will have the capability to learn about you, to establish your progress, and to tailor your curriculum to suit your performance. In the not-too-distant future, it will learn by tracking how you engage with different media types and subject matter. By 2020, it will build complex profiles about how you learn best. It will fire you questions. It will talk to you. It will respond, in an instant.

The Millennials of today are more used to Googling than asking aloud. The learning solutions of tomorrow will play to this, acting as your own ‘personal learning assistant’ that serves up suggested content and recommended learning based on how you interact with it.

What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

First and foremost, I’d tell myself to generate space for creativity. Machines can replicate patterns. Patterns are everywhere. But technology will always rely on humans to give context to those patterns. According to a new Forum report, The Future of Jobs, the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is almost upon us is bringing about the need for a different skill set to the one most employers currently seek. Right now, ‘creativity’ is indeed a desirable trait – but by 2020 it’ll be essential, securing a spot in the top three attributes we’ll all ideally have.

I’d also talk to myself about the importance of technology, but its all-encompassing nature too. I believe that to be truly creative, you need to step away from the screen. You need to display a certain mindfulness to ensure you don’t always think in bits and bytes.

One thing I’ve also learnt of late is: whether you can or you can’t, you’re probably right. There is no benefit to limiting your beliefs. How do you know something isn’t possible unless you try? More often than not, it is… trust me!

About Carrie:

Carrie is Head of Learning & Development at Volume: an award-winning global provider of digital learning content, technology and innovation, offering a full range of services – from cognitive learning and gamification to performance support and SaaS learning platforms.

Carrie isn’t just passionate about digital transformation, she’s obsessed with it: how it’s empowering today’s businesses to achieve more, to differentiate themselves, and – ultimately – to make money. Armed with an extensive background in off- and online marketing, a deep understanding of learning methodologies, and this commitment to advanced technologies, Carrie drives her team to develop learning solutions that make a lasting impact on each and every employee.

Supported by Volume’s wider Learning & Development Practice, Carrie provides companies with real-time performance and support resources; libraries of instantly accessible digital multimedia content; and the ability to create an army of subject specialists who can add true value.

Connect with Carrie on LinkedIn