Technology developments and foundation skills: what is trending?

This blog has a technology and foundation skills theme.  No, it is not about software, apps, tools, and platforms.  It’s about:

  1. Technology as a learning tool
  2. Technology and career advice.

We collated four recent information sources related to technology and the development of workplace skills. We considered how the information relates to foundation skills, and present our thoughts in this post.  The first section invites you to reflect on very recent reports about the effectiveness of eLearning delivery and the second reveals the rise of both the ‘gig’ economy, and the impact of artificial intelligence.

First, a quick reminder – The 2016 CSIRO’s Data 61 report: Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce identified six megatrends.  These megatrends are predicted to rapidly propel the workforce into new directions—some jobs will be lost, some will change significantly, and many new jobs will be created.  A key contributor to these significant changes is the emergence of technological capacity.

The document reveals that:

  1. Education and training remain critical to preparing people for the workplace.
  2. Current and accurate career advice will be important for people to navigate the workforce.

1 Technology as a learning tool

Does eLearning work?  What the scientific research says

Will Thalheimer is a learning expert, researcher, instructional designer, consultant, speaker, and writer. This research began with a question: Does eLearning work?  And if so, how effective is it?  Thalheimer examines outcomes from eLearning, classroom and blended learning models. He examines a number of research studies, each selected for their rigour and real-world learning.  There is a brief summary at the end of each section and a conclusion on pages 25 and 26.

“What matters in terms of learning effectiveness, is NOT the learning modality (elearning vs. classroom); it’s the learning methods that matter, including such factors as realistic practice, spaced repetitions, real-world contexts, and feedback.”

The research findings are interesting and worthy of considering if you are establishing or reviewing your technology training delivery approach.

Whichever model you use, building foundation skills involves:
  • Real world contexts – based on the real-world. Foundation skills are best learnt in context with a strong connection to the real world (or workplace) application.
  • Practice – more than once, sometimes many times. Plan how and where additional practice resources are made available.
  • Spaced repetition – use previously practiced foundation skills at different stages of training delivery.
  •  Feedback – meaningful and skill specific guidance. Feedback that informs the learner of their strengths and specifically, what to do to progress, understand, or master the skills.

How do adults prefer to learn?

Jane Hart, a thought leader in learning and development, produces a weekly blog called, Learning in the Modern Workplace.  On 08 August 2017, she released the results of the 6th annual learning in the workplace survey.

Jane listed 12 delivery strategies – most have parallels to the strategies used in adult training and education. The survey asked respondents to rate the strategies against their importance to them as a learning tool. Respondents selected from (NI = Not important, QI=Quite Important, VI=Very Important, Ess=Essential). 5,000 people from 63 countries (including Australia) responded.

The results are interesting, they reveal the learning strategies adult value more than others. We have prepared a table of results (below) with the key findings for the top 5, and 2 of the bottom 3 learning strategies. The table includes :

  • the overall learning strategy ranking
  • the learning strategy
  • the total percentage of respondents who rated this strategy as either VI or Ess (VI+Ess)
  • Our thoughts about why adult learners may prefer this learning strategy in education and training
Respondents Ranking Learning  strategy Percentage of respondents VI+Ess
Our thoughts: why adult learners may prefer this strategy
1 Daily work experiences (ie doing the day job) 93 Developing skills in the real workplace. Skills make more sense with real workplace application and relevance
2 Knowledge sharing within your team 90 Collaboration to affirm skills, knowledge and understanding. Assists ‘need to know now’.
3 Web search
(e.g. Google)
79 Learn in own time, Ease of access. Learning support resource.
4 Web resources
(e.g. videos, podcasts, articles)
76 Learn in own time, Ease of access. Learning support resource.
5 Manager feedback and guidance 74 Confirm skills strengths and how to progress
  • There are twelve delivery strategies.
  • At the bottom (10 – 12) are: 10 (elearning), 11 (conferences) and 12 (classroom training)
10 eLearning 41 Some models, the learner is left to work through independently
12 Classroom training 31 Satisfaction relates to many uncontrollable factors – e.g. trainer skill, peer influence, timing,

The results show that the ideal way is to practice the skill in the real workplace setting. In the education and training context the opportunity for learners to be situated in the workplace is increasing but not possible for all. There is an increasing trend towards simulated classrooms, role plays, use of industry tools, and the gradual introduction of virtual reality tools.

Beyond practice in the real world, to build skills and knowledge, adults value:
  • Connection with others  – opportunities to collaborate, share and learn from and with others
  • Resources -easily accessed and relevant resources to support understanding and skill development
  • Feedback  – to guide and progress skill development and skill adjustment

2 Technology and career advice

The emergence of the Gig economy

Last year, the CSIRO Data 61 Tomorrow’s Digitally enabled world  report signalled:

  • the rise of the freelancer and portfolio worker who may have multiple employers
  • and, for many people, a job will not there waiting for them, so it will be necessary to create it themselves.

Fast forward to now, one year later…

The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) recently released a Thought Leader paper: The emergence of the Gig economy. 

Digital platforms allow freelancers:

  • flexibility
  • to promote and market their skills
  • to be connected to more than one employer
  • to use tools to manage clients

“Whatever the motivation for freelancing is, it is indisputable that this mode of work is rapidly growing alongside the emergence of digital freelance marketplaces.” (p4)

As trainers, how will you:
  • Highlight the freelance and entrepreneur employment trends?
  • Identify and develop learners attitudes, and mindsets to engage with a ‘gig’ economy?
  • Prepare learners to use technology based freelancing and networking platforms?

Could a robot do your job?

Last year, the CSIRO Data 61 Tomorrow’s Digitally enabled world  report signalled that all jobs will be shaped by technology and automation.

Fast forward to now, one year later…

Research house AlphaBeta (The Automation Advantage) created this data set to reveal predictions of how automation will effect jobs.

Their online resource is available via the ABC.

” It’s not so much about what jobs will we do, but how will we do our jobs, everyone will do their job differently, working with machines over the next 20 years.”

( could a robot take your job?)

 The resource provides useful information for trainers and learners to guide and respond to  career and skill advice. The information provided includes:

  • the percentage of the job (and related tasks) most and least likely to be automated.
  • the tasks, or skills most and least likely to be impacted by technology.
  • the automation percentage compared to other roles.

Search to find your job, or the jobs you are preparing learners for. Access the tool by clicking Could a Robot do your Job? or by clicking on the image.

AS Trainers how will you:
  • Keep abreast of the foundation skills and technology trends in the industry you represent?
  • Adjust delivery to embrace the emerging foundation and technology skills?
  • Engage  learners with a broad range of technology applications to be digitally literate?





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