Early indicators – Emerging Tech Survey

Posted on Jun 26, 2015

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There’s a lot of speculation about emerging technology and what role it might play in learning, but we wanted to collect some data rather than opinion.

We've been asking L&D people to take the Emerging Tech Survey to find out what technology they’re using right now and what they are interested in adopting in future.

Our survey was launched to coincide with #EmergingTechWeek, so it’s really early days to report the findings. But bearing in mind these are initial results only, some interesting trends are coming to light.

Respondents were offered a list of technologies (with the option to specify others) and asked to identify the tech they are currently using.

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Predictably, multi-device comes top of the list with 47.8% of respondents currently using it in their learning approach. Surprisingly, internet of things technology comes second with 30.4% of respondents saying they are using it right now. This may relate to a broad interpretation of what constitutes internet of things technology, and certainly requires further investigation and clarification.

Interestingly, only 26% of respondents are using learner analytics at the moment which once again highlights L&D’s chequered history when it comes to using data to drive decisions. Around 30% of those who responded to the survey are not currently using any technologies in their learning approach.

Looking ahead proved a fascinating exercise, with more than half of respondents planning to incorporate a new technology in the next 12 months or beyond.

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Again, multi-device tops the table with 45.4% of people planning to incorporate it into their training approach in future. Learner analytics is the second most popular choice at 31.8%, but internet of things and virtual reality are not far behind at 27.7% each.

The reasons why respondents are not planning to incorporate any new technologies in the foreseeable future threw up some interesting insights. Typical comments included:

“No budget for new technologies. WebEx, SharePoint and Brainshark will remain key technologies used for training.”
“Waiting for some of the technologies to mature before investing.”
“The client/user base does not have cutting edge tech... yet!”

Respondents were asked to pick out the emerging technologies they viewed as having the greatest potential within learning, regardless of whether or not they were planning to incorporate that particular tech.

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Virtual reality was the most popular choice with 46.2%, followed by learner analytics at 38.5% and multi-device at 35.9%. Just over a quarter of respondents thought wearables have the greatest potential in learning; it’s perhaps surprising this figure isn't higher given the level of interest in wearables generally, and the launch of Apple Watch.

The survey asked, what do you believe to be the next ‘big thing’ in learning technologies? This question threw up the most diverse range of responses although augmented reality and virtual reality were the two most popular answers.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the comments on the next ‘big thing’:

“Bringing down the barriers that are raised with the term ‘e-learning’…. creating flexibility in learning with the internet of things, which will also increase value through contextual interactivity and multi/trans-media approaches, and be more applicable, understandable and successful.”
“More interaction with students who are learning online...development of webinar - although unsure what that may be...”
“Social learning - empowering learners to knowledge share within communities and curate their own content and resources; moving L&D/People Development departments to more 'enablers' rather than creators of learning.”

These early indicators are certainly food for thought and a starting point for further research on the subject. The Emerging Tech Survey is ongoing so please take part and share it with your community.

We’ll be providing results at regular intervals and hope to run the survey each year so we can build up a more accurate picture of emerging tech trends within learning, and find out more about the L&D community’s changing views and attitudes over time.

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