The following is my contribution to the Learning Guild’s ebook, 2022 Predictions from L&D Practitioners. Download it to see an array of predictions from other practitioners (accessible with free membership to Learning Guild).

Do you remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy has just landed in Munchkinland? She’s gone through a tornado in black and white and opens the door to a land of color and possibility. That’s the feeling we all might have opening the door on 2022.

People are talking about a “new normal” when the fact is that we collectively create what is normal. The pandemic can be the storm that brings us to a new L&D – one that is well aligned with the needs of our organizations and the people whose learning we need to support; one that combines rich digital learning with deep engagement with people as teachers, coaches, experts, and co-learners; one that is grounded in what we know about how adults learn and how to scaffold their learning with people, processes, and technology. The potential for a dynamic and impactful learning ecosystem has been there for a decade or more, and we may now be in a position bring it to fruition.

What will be capturing our attention in the coming years? In the immediate term, I think that we will want to strengthen our understanding of and support for social learning – all the ways that people engage with one another to develop capabilities. Our socially distanced lives have underscored just how important deep interpersonal interactions are for overall well-being, no less for our learning. We need to attend to learner experience in order to be sensitive and responsive to the individual and collective traumas we’ve been living through over the last several years. We need to be careful and ethical in our gathering and deployment of data, not only strengthening our data analytics skills, but more importantly asking hard questions about purpose and bias and unintended impacts.

Our field is already greatly expanding our repertoire of learning strategies and our options will continue to grow. We’re intentionally helping organizations cultivate learning environments, and we’ll need to respond to the changing nature of work and workplace configurations. We are tech-savvy, and we’ll continue to examine emerging technologies for their usefulness in addressing learning needs. Along the way, we’ll have to grapple with the proliferation of tools, the pressures of rapid change, and limited resources.

There is no doubt wreckage to contend with as the pandemic storm subsides, but there is also fierce optimism. We can step out into our own land of Oz and find friends to help us on our journey. With the tools and skills we have at our disposal, we can create a color-filled landscape that uses learning as an important stepping stone to the future. That is my hope for 2022 and beyond.

Best wishes for the rest of the holiday season – and happy new year!