Six months into the pandemic I was invited to create a video which would be shared with delegates at the Israeli Technologies Conference. Only after I made the video did I realise I’d misread the brief. It was supposed to be about “the day after the pandemic” (as an aside, who knows if that will ever come – I think coronavirus is here to stay and we need to learn how to live smartly with it). Instead my video was about the impact of the pandemic on L&D in Australia. I hope it was still of some value to the conference organisers – who were nice enough not to point out that I had missed the brief and ask me to re-do it!
I made this video in early September, two months ago. It’s short – only 3min 26 seconds. It’s also captioned. I’ve copied the transcript below.
At the end of the video I invite viewers to explore the Learning Uncut Emergent podcast series where I explored how L&D can emerge stronger and more relevant than ever from the pandemic. Earlier this week I recorded the series wrap-up episode with co-hosts Laura Overton and Shannon Tipton. My views on the impact of the pandemic continue to evolve, particularly when I look outside of Australia where the impact to this point has been deeper in many countries. I will share more on my evolving views in upcoming Daily Dispatches.
Hi, it’s Michelle Ockers. I’m joining you from Australia to share a little bit about the impact of the pandemic six months in in my region in the world.
Some industries have been hit quite hard and there’s been this general economic tightening. So some Learning and Development teams have reduced in size. However, the general pattern, the more common pattern is one of greatly increased demand for the services of Learning and Development inside organisations. Many Learning and Development professionals are reporting feeling really energised and well engaged, if not a little overwhelmed, by the demand exceeding their capacity to deliver right now.
Learning and Development were critical to helping organisations pivot in those early stages of reacting to the pandemic, both in terms of helping organisations and people to shift to remote working as well as enabling rapid upskilling where people needed to be moved around organisations to adjust to the demand for services for customers in different places. There was a lot of trialing of new technologies for collaboration, for work and for learning, and this general lowering of barriers to change and adoption of new approaches to learning which for many was like a big breath of fresh air.
Now that people are starting to return to the office the consumption of online content, which peaked, it went right up in the early part of the pandemic, is starting to drop. Now, it’s not clear why that is, whether it’s because people have less time because of commuting or catching up with a backlog of work or different types of tasks in the office, or whether it’s because there may be some sense of reduced discretion or freedom to allocate time during the working day to learning activities and content consumption – it’s unclear.
However, there is the shift and there’s this concern about “will we return to the way it was?” So the opportunity now is actually to leverage the gains made in the shift in digital strategy and to take it further – because learning requires much more than content consumption of course – so now is the time to be looking at user experience and digital strategy and moving beyond content as the core of your digital strategy and how can you use the digital environment to support learning in a whole range of other ways, particularly peer-to-peer and interaction, but also to support people to apply learning back in the flow of work and embed it into their work.
So digital learning strategy needs to go a lot further. We’re still in a period of considerable upheaval and change in the world of work and now is the time for Learning and Development to be really bold with the things you’re doing to leverage the current situation and move forward in your organisation and support them to adapt and move forward and emerge stronger, and for L&D to emerge stronger. If you’re curious about how Learning and Development can emerge stronger from the current period you may want to check out my special Learning Uncut podcast series, the Emergent series, for a stack of interviews with different guests about approaches that will help us to be even more relevant and effective into the future.