The workplace is increasingly dominated by technology.
The trend is especially apparent in corporate learning. As learning leaders look to cut costs and improve efficiencies, e-learning, point-of-need performance support and other Web-based tools have taken over the space formerly occupied by the classroom.
The shift has been particularly effective at teaching technical skills. A call center worker can easily and efficiently master the process of fielding calls through a business simulation or e-learning module. Likewise, a generous portion of sales training can happen over a mobile application.
But as more businesses look to virtual classrooms, webinars, self-paced e-learning courses and mobile technology, many wonder whether being on the cutting edge — and saving money — is better when it comes to developing employees’ soft skills, the kind organizations are keen to develop in the next generation of leaders.
Technology plays an important role in leadership development: 86 percent of companies report a significant investment in learning technology such as webinars, videos, mobile applications and simulations in soft skill development, according to a 2013 survey by Impact Instruction Group, a corporate training and development firm.
Technology overall is also making up a bigger piece of the learning pie. Technology-based methods accounted for 37 percent of formal learning hours in 2012, according to a report from the American Society for Training & Development. That’s a nearly 21 percent increase from 2000, when technology-based learning methods accounted for 16 percent of formal learning hours.
Still, many industry professionals question whether technology is the most effective means for soft skill development — skills that learning leaders say are difficult to master even in a face-to-face environment.