Nikolas Kairinos, CEO, Soffos.ai, discusses whether EdTech has a place in the post-pandemic work learning environment
Over the course of the past year, the discourse around education technology (EdTech) has changed dramatically in the wake of COVID-19. Indeed, as governments around the world imposed lockdowns and strict social distancing measures, education providers in schools, universities and businesses had to quickly re-evaluate how they delivered knowledge and skills training. In the corporate space, where offices were largely encouraged to operate remotely, this meant looking to new and innovative solutions, rather than traditional methods, to facilitate learning and development (L&D).
While many businesses looked to videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to shift pre-existing peer-to-peer mentoring sessions online, others turned to AI-powered solutions to offer more targeted training in the WFH climate.
And now, with vaccines on the horizon and organizations envisaging a gradual return to the office in the near future, many businesses will be left scratching their heads as to whether these technologies have a place in the post-pandemic landscape.
Training incentives have been forever changed
Although some organizations might be keen to return to old and familiar ways of working, a full-scale return to the office is likely off the cards now that businesses and employees alike have realized the benefits that a digital landscape can offer.
Given that workers are finding themselves more productive in the remote work climate and companies are seeing their costs reduced, I would hedge my bets that business leaders won’t be in any great rush to return to the office full-time. While there has never been any doubt as to the fact that employees benefit from the collaborative environment that in-office working provides, in the future, companies will begin working with a “hybrid” model. And as employees will be operating remotely for at least part of their working week, business leaders will naturally continue to rely on state-of-the-art EdTech to offer 27/4 training.
In many ways, the challenges of facilitating training in the post-COVID workplace will echo more long-standing issues in the corporate learning space. Specifically, the challenge of catering training courses to individual employees, rather than relying on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model, and ensuring that these initiatives are engaging and actively absorbed by workers.
Put simply, EdTech solutions – and especially those utilizing artificial intelligence to bolster their output – are able to resolve these issues. These products are able to harness unique data insights to ensure that the corporate learning journey is hyper-personalized and always accounts for individual differences, meaning that employees will be better equipped to perform their roles. A huge weight will be lifted off the shoulders of HR department, that must deliver tailored training which caters to each individual’s learning goals and career ambitions.
What’s more, these sophisticated platforms can identify issues that might otherwise slip through the net when training is solely delivered by a human. Delivering training via crowded conferences and group courses often results in learners’ needs being ignored if they don’t match those of their peers. The advantage of EdTech solutions is that they are on hand to deliver round-the-clock differentiated and individualized support, which extends far beyond the remits of scheduled training sessions, identify problem areas, and offer tailored support in areas that require improvement. By constantly analyzing user performance in real-time, AI-powered platforms can develop a bespoke roadmap for each employee to improve their skills and knowledge.
Augmented Reality (AR) is on the horizon
As workplaces begin to transition to a hybrid model of working, this will naturally have a spill-over effect into the kinds of technology being used. Increasingly, business leaders will be looking to technologies that make this evolution as seamless as possible, and this will give way to a whole host of immersive technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
While augmented education is still in the nascent stages, uptake in the adoption of these technologies is already growing. In the business context, AR will one day soon have the capability to mimic the office setting, both physically and in terms of organizational culture. Using “super resolution”, AR for instance will help foster collaborative learning and support better engagement with training material.
As these technologies mature, they will be able to mimic the real-life training that employees are accustomed to. Indeed, peer-to-peer (P2P) learning remains one of the most effective means of teaching, which means that human learning leaders will continue to play a pivotal role in the delivery of knowledge. The method is built around the premise of positive feedback loops, with learners having the ability to put their knowledge to the test by applying it in relevant scenarios, as well as receiving constructive feedback from their peers so that they can reflect on their progress. Technology will expand the reach of P2P learning, with employees soon able to reap the benefits of an authentic and enhanced experience wherever they are in the world.
Although all signs are now starting to point towards the end of the pandemic, the need for technologies that enrich the learning experience will not go away. It is likely that working practices have been permanently changed, and as such learning procedures will have to follow suit. I have every confidence that EdTech solutions will be an all-important driver of corporate L&D in the post-COVID environment, and I look forward to seeing businesses across all sectors putting these to work in the months to come.
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