L&D Tech: The Essential Guide to Learning and Development Technology

November 2, 2023

12 min read

Learning and development technology is one of the most impactful types of tech out there.

Learning and development technology is one of the most versatile types of tech out there. L&D tech is great for educational environments like schools or workplaces, but it can also be used on an individual level too.

If you’re unfamiliar with this type of technology, you’re definitely not alone. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about L&D tech, including what the most common types are, seven worthwhile apps to check out, the benefits, the drawbacks, and the emerging trends making a splash in the industry.

What Is Learning and Development Technology (L&D Tech)?

Learning and development technology — also called L&D tech — is a branch of technology designed to enhance and improve learning and development. L&D tech can be used in environments like schools, universities, or workplaces. 

Depending on the user’s goals, learning and development technology can: 

  • Track student (or learner) progress
  • Create and distribute educational content
  • Measure the return on investment (ROI) of learning and development technology 
  • Give learners opportunity to practice new skills and get actionable feedback

Types of Learning and Development Technology (L&D Tech)

Like all other areas of technology, there are many various types of learning and development technology for people to leverage and take advantage of, especially in educational environments. 

Here are seven of the most common types of L&D tech out there. 

Authoring tools

For educators, authoring tools can be a complete game-changer. This type of L&D tech gives teachers the ability to make and deliver engaging online courses that are usually interactive.

For example, an authoring tool could give educators access to assessment development features, multimedia integration elements, and template creation.

Learning management systems (LMS)

Software platforms like learning management systems (LMS) are another important type of learning and development technology that helps educators and learners manage the programs they use. Similar to authoring tools, LMSs allow for course creation and delivery, data tracking, and other helpful insights. 

Microlearning platforms

Because students — especially younger students — are less engaged during class, microlearning platforms have quickly risen to the top in terms of the best types of learning and development technology.

These types of tools focus on bite-sized lessons and learnings so students can absorb information in short bursts. Microlearning also incorporates other L&D tech trends, such as gamification, interactive elements, and video courses. 

Learning experience platforms (LXPs)

Personalized, individualized learning experiences are extremely effective amongst learners and learning experience platforms (LXPs) make this even more impactful. LXPs can give students an individualized experience that also prioritizes engagement and interactive elements. 

An LXP is a newer type of learning platform that is designed to provide a more personalized and engaging learning experience for learners. These platforms often use machine learning and generative AI to serve up content to learners based on what they need to learn, what they’re struggling with, and what they’re most interested in. 

Learning analytics tools

Because data and metrics are being used more in educational settings, learning analytics tools have emerged as a critical type of learning and development technology. Through the data from analytics tools, educators can pinpoint learners who need more support while also improving their lesson plans for the class as a whole.

Mobile learning apps

Because smartphones are so central to many people’s lives, mobile learning apps have made a name for themselves in the world of learning and development technology.

These apps can provide students with courses and assignments they can engage with directly from their phones. Mobile learning apps are often paired with microlearning to provide snackable lessons that are also interactive and engaging to students.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have solidified their place as a worthy type of learning and development technology thanks to the engaging, immersive experiences they can provide for students and teachers. 

For example, both AR and VR technology can simulate realistic situations, help students learn new skills, and offer a hands-on learning experience in a safe, controlled environment.  

7 Best Learning and Development Technology Apps

Just like other areas of tech, like communications technology, learning and development technology has come a long way.

If you’re interested in experimenting — whether you’re the instructor or the student — here are the seven best learning and development technology apps to check out. 

1. Yoodli

Effective communication is a huge aspect of learning and development technology, and Yoodli is the shining star in this area. It’s a speech coach app that improves a person’s communication skills, whether they’re practicing for an upcoming presentation and looking to boost their impromptu speaking skills

Through AI technology, Yoodli analyzes a user’s speech and speaking patterns to make actionable suggestions and tips for improvement. As a learning and development app, it has much to offer for teachers and students alike. 

It works like this. You’ll upload or record a video of yourself speaking and Yoodli takes care of the rest. As soon as you’re finished with your recording, you’ll receive instant analytics and insights that show you what you need to work on when you speak. For example, these metrics include insights on things like your:

  • Filler word usage
  • Speaking rate (how fast or slow you talk)
  • Word choice
  • How loud your voice is

Based on that data, Yoodli can make suggestions, just as a human speech coach would. To learn more about how it works, check out the below explainer video:

Yoodli is a shining star in the realm of learning and development technology.

2. Khan Academy

Created in 2006 by Sal Khan, Khan Academy is a non-profit organization focused on accessible education. This learning and development tool has many resources online for students. 

Completely for free, students (and anyone for that matter) can learn about almost everything under the sun, including subjects like:

  • Art
  • Medicine
  • Economics
  • Math
  • History
  • Programming
  • Chemistry
  • Finance
  • Biology

In each of these subject areas, Khan Academy offers short, bite-sized video lessons, as well as practice questions and exercises. There are even some materials for teachers available as well. 

3. Udemy

Another similar learning and development tool like Khan Academy is Udemy. This option also features online classes and videos meant to be a resource for educators and students. 

Anyone can participate in the loads of free classes offered, from time management skills to coding games to photography and aromatherapy. 

While Khan Academy is focused on common subjects in school, from grade school to high school, Udemy offers some courses outside the norm. For example, there are classes on topic areas such as:

  • Best practices for working remotely
  • Hyperthinking
  • Meditation
  • Coping with stress and anxiety
  • Making a WordPress website
  • Drawing cartoons

4. Kahoot!

Gamification is an up-and-coming trend of learning and development technology and Kahoot! is a prime example. 

Kahoot! is a wildly popular learning and development technology app that allows teachers to create questions that students can answer directly from their smartphones. Although these quiz games are pretty common in K-12 learning, Kahoot! can also be used in professional work environments too. 

Learning games are a great way to engage students in a classroom and its point-based system keeps kids interested in the topic at hand.

5. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is almost like the Khan Academy of the corporate world. Here, you can learn or brush up on professional skills. Some companies even offer LinkedIn Learning subscriptions to their employees as part of the available learning and development technology. 

However, this app doesn’t just offer corporate and professional skills. It also offers tech skills and even personal development opportunities. The courses are mainly divided into three categories: business, creative, and technology. 

For example, some of the classes currently offered include options like:

  • “The Six Morning Habits of High Performers”
  • Executive Presence on Video Conference Calls”
  • “Learning Personal Branding”
  • “Developing Your Emotional Intelligence”
  • “Giving Your Elevator Pitch

6. Duolingo

With regard to language learning — another significant part of learning and development — Duolingo is the option you want to explore first. 

Duolingo is an app for both the web and mobile devices that helps people learn new languages and brush up on their existing skills. The lessons offered are quick, snackable sessions that make learning languages a breeze. It’s free and pretty effective based off customer reviews. 

Some of the languages offered include:

  • Spanish
  • Czech
  • French
  • German 
  • Hindi
  • Arabic
  • Italian
  • Hebrew
  • Irish
  • Welsh
  • Haitian Creole
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Danish
  • Greek
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • Japanese
  • Finish 

Duolingo even offers fictional languages, like High Valyrian and Klingon. 

7. Google Classroom

Many K-12 schools in the U.S. are already taking advantage of Google Classroom. This Google product is a management app for teachers and other educators. 

Teachers can manage, personalize, and measure learning in their classrooms all in one place. In particular, Google Classroom helps educators with class assignments. For example, teachers can create, assign, and grade class assignments directly on the platform. 

This app also optimizes the process of sharing files with other teachers, which can definitely be a hassle otherwise. 

Benefits of Learning and Development Technology

The benefits of learning and development technology are more apparent now than ever, thanks to emerging research. Some of the most significant benefits to this type of tech include:

  • Better overall performance for learners
  • Decreased expenses for training
  • Boosted engagement among learners 
  • Increased job satisfaction for employees

Boosted learner performance

The key to boosted performance among learners is personalization. Personalized learning is an emerging trend in learning and development technology and leads to this exact benefit: improved learner performance.

To do this, tools can make learning experiences more individualized while also tracking the student’s progress. Doing so allows for better overall performance among students. 

For example, if a teacher reviews a student’s progress and identifies that they’re struggling with algebra, the teacher can pivot their personalized learning plan and give that student additional support in math. Some L&D tech tools can actually suggest learnings to students based on what they need or what they’re interested in. 

Lower training costs

Training can get very expensive, but learning and development technology can slash training costs so as to extend the budget. 

Certain tasks can be streamlined with automation so educators don’t have to be trained on that particular task. For example, although school districts could spend money training teachers on how to track data points for student learning, they can instead automate this with L&D tech. This allows teachers to put more time into tasks that are more important and can’t be automated. 

Better learner engagement

Keeping students engaged has always been a challenge, but even more so during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, learning and development technology can help in this area, too. 

To keep students engaged, educators can use this L&D tech to make lessons interactive, for example. Other learning and development technology trends can be leveraged to boost engagement too, such as gamification and microlearning. 

More employee satisfaction and productivity

The education space can be a tough industry to work in and as such, teacher job satisfaction hit an all time low in 2022. However, learning and development technology can give employees the knowledge and training they need, which in turn helps boost job satisfaction among educators. 

This kind of technology also increases productivity through the same means: providing employees with high-quality training that they can use to build on existing skills and learn new skills, too. 

Employees who have access to this kind of training are not only more productive, but also more satisfied with their position, as they have the skills (and more) that they need to be successful at work. 

Disadvantages of Learning and Development Technology

There are pros and cons to everything, and learning development technology is no different. Some of the primary drawbacks to L&D tech include things like:

  • Increased costs due to expensive tech 
  • Its complexity and lack of accessibility
  • Distracting devices

Higher costs for expensive tech

Although learning and development technology can lower training costs, it can also be pretty expensive itself. For start-ups and medium-sized companies — as well as school districts in low income areas — L&D tech can be out of reach. 

Still, there are some learning and development tech tools that are lower cost and more affordable. A few are even free, like Yoodli or Duolingo. 

Complexity and lack of accessibility

Learning and development technology in particular can be complex, especially for people who haven’t used these types of tools before. This can make using L&D tech difficult for educators and others interested. 

In the same vein as high-cost L&D tech solutions, this kind of technology is also inaccessible to an extent. Money aside, for those who don’t have internet access or live in remote areas, learning and development tools are often out of reach. 

Distraction

Although there are tons of benefits to learning and development technology, it shares a disadvantage with communications technology: it can be distracting.

For example, students and teachers alike could be distracted by their smartphones, email, or social media accounts if they use tools that provide easy access. This can put students at a disadvantage, especially when they’re in an environment where they’re supposed to be learning. 

Learning and Development Technology Trends

The emerging learning and development technology trends are revolutionizing the education space. Two of the primary trends captivating students and teachers are social learning and gamification. 

With social learning, the idea is to encourage education through social interaction in the classroom. This type of learning allows students to better collaborate, connect, and help each other learn through shared knowledge. When it comes to soft skills like teamwork or effective communication, social learning is perfect.

Gamification in learning has taken over schools across the country. With this type of learning, educators use game-like features to engage students during lessons and other education experiences. For example, gamification elements include things like leaderboards, badges, and earning points and rewards when they complete a lesson or assignment. 

This helps learners be more engaged, especially young learners. 

Of course, there are many other L&D tech trends worthy of mentioning. For example, some other up-and-coming trends include things like:

  • Incorporating data and analytics to track student progress
  • Using learning experience platforms (LXPs)
  • Honing in on personalized learning experiences 
  • Using decentralized learning
  • Integrating L&D tech with other types, like MarTech

The Bottom Line

Learning and development technology includes some of the most useful tech in existence and leverages it to improve the performance of learners and educators, among others. Both students and teachers can use free L&D tech solutions like Yoodli, Google Classroom, or Khan Academy to improve education outcomes.

There are new tools in development even now, and following L&D tech trends is an exciting way to keep up with learning and development technology.

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