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Learning Trends for 2023: What to Expect

We observe new learning trends and developments every year, and lately there seems to be an ever-increasing demand for new ways of working and smarter ways of learning.

Read on to learn how the current L&D trends will help you prepare for potential disruption, become more efficient, and create new strategies for more alignment in your organization.

Learning Trends for 2023

Trend 1: Becoming a Skills-Based Organization

This trend is about organizations shifting from a rigid job or role description to a skills framework that enables a more fluid understanding of the work. Moving in this direction enables organizations to better respond to disruption by becoming more agile and resourceful.

Many organizations are turning to technology to help with this shift. While the technology is better than ever, it cannot “automagically” prepare us for new needs without a deep understanding of the work and work output. Understanding the work and work output that are crucial to you will help you create a learning infrastructure that you can use repeatedly to deal with oncoming needs. Becoming skills based involves a big learning culture shift and deep organization-wide collaboration.

Trend 2: Designing for Inclusion, Beginning with Onboarding

We have a huge opportunity to ensure we’re transforming our organizations to be more inclusive from onboarding and beyond. This can and should happen by building inclusion into our designs—up front and not as an afterthought. One example of how we can do this is by expanding the voices we use for our learning journeys.

We can also promote inclusion through increasing the number of support touchpoints through intentional micro-coaching and mentoring, shifting the way we provide access to learning opportunities, and paying attention to the different stages of the learning journey. Making sure we spend time building inclusion specifically into our onboarding and other learning opportunities sets the stage for that sense of belonging we want everyone to feel.

Trend 3: Refining Design Thinking, Agile, and MVPs

Another trend we’re experiencing is a resurgence and refocusing on agile and design thinking, as well as embracing the concept of minimal viable product (MVP).

When striving for elegance in our learning designs, we need to focus on creating the simplest product that will fit our needs before creating more complex learning systems. If your goal is to encourage community to enhance the learning experience, you don’t want to jump straight into developing an app—you should first consider the simplest way you can achieve that goal.

The beauty of embracing an MVP mindset is that it can meet a set of evolving needs yet is sustainable and data driven.

Trend 4: Optimizing Your Learning Ecosystem

Optimizing our learning ecosystem, especially in terms of technology, can help us focus on the human experience component and bring more productivity to our learners. When we optimize learning ecosystems—by redesigning a system to provide less resistance for users to get to relevant content, for instance—we can increase retention through engagement and improve upskilling.

Beyond that, optimizing your learning ecosystem increases communication, knowledge sharing, and meaningful coaching and mentoring. All of these positive increases result in reduced content costs—a win-win.

Trend 5: Expanding the Organizational Learning Boundaries

In order to deal with disruptions at industry levels and to stay competitive, we need to break down our traditional learning boundaries and think differently about how we can engage audiences both internally and externally.

Expanding your organizational learning boundaries means opening up your learning systems to focus on a broader audience to meet emerging skill gaps so your people can help the organization achieve its goals. Instead of something the organization builds and gives to just its internal employees, we want to approach our learning content more collaboratively and open-mindedly. An example of this would be to include open-sourced content in your learning journeys.

Trend 6: Exploring the Metaverse

Despite what many think, the metaverse is not actually owned by a single company. It is a virtual, immersive space that serves as a representation of the real world—it includes people, places, concept expression, events, and human connection.

L&D professionals should begin thinking about how to use this virtual space to create truly immersive learning experiences, like to provide a safe space for practice and failure in terms of digital labs and workshops, for instance. It can also be used to host events and conferences, dramatically increasing connection for hybrid workforces.

More on 2023 Learning Trends

For more information about these learning trends and to learn about Trend 7—how Web 3.0 will impact learning—check out my recent webinar, Learning Trends for 2023: Cultivating Connection, Alignment, and Efficiency, on trainingindustry.com.

About the Authors

Matt Donovan
Chief Learning & Innovation Officer
Early in life, I found that I had a natural curiosity that not only led to a passion for learning and sharing with others, but it also got me into trouble. Although not a bad kid, I often found overly structured classrooms a challenge. I could be a bit disruptive as I would explore the content and activities in a manner that made sense to me. I found that classes and teachers that nurtured a personalized approach really resonated with me, while those that did not were demotivating and affected my relationship with the content. Too often, the conversation would come to a head where the teacher would ask, “Why can’t you learn it this way?” I would push back with, “Why can’t you teach it in a variety of ways?” The only path for success was when I would deconstruct and reconstruct the lessons in a meaningful way for myself. I would say that this early experience has shaped my career. I have been blessed with a range of opportunities to work with innovative organizations that advocate for the learner, endeavor to deliver relevance, and look to bend technology to further these goals. For example, while working at Unext.com, I had the opportunity to experience over 3,000 hours of “learnability” testing on my blended learning designs. I could see for my own eyes how learners would react to my designs and how they made meaning of it. Learners asked two common questions: Is it relevant to me? Is it authentic? Through observations of and conversations with learners, I began to sharpen my skills and designed for inclusion and relevance rather than control. This lesson has served me well. In our industry, we have become overly focused on the volume and arrangement of content, instead of its value. Not surprising—content is static and easier to define. Value (relevance), on the other hand, is fluid and much harder to describe. The real insight is that you can’t really design relevance; you can only design the environment or systems that promote it. Relevance ultimately is in the eye of the learner—not the designer. So, this is why, when asked for an elevator pitch, I share my passion of being an advocate for the learner and a warrior for relevance.

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