2020 has shaken us up in every possible way. I am sure, you must have read millions of write ups on the impact of the pandemic on the economy and society. While knowing and understanding this is of great importance, it is time we focus on the future and what needs to be the next chapter for us.  This is precisely what Learning and Development (L&D) stands for. Hence, being a learning organization is key to being successful in this everchanging business environment.

Why become a ‘learning organization’ in 2021?

The answer to this question can simply be explored through the words of Darwin - “It is not the strongest of the species who survive, nor the most intelligent; rather it is those most responsive to change.” To remain relevant, learning fast and better is essential and this can be leveraged through the vast array of tech-based tools available to enhance the learning experience.

Here are a few L&D tools that you should consider using in 2021:

Collaborative tools:

1.       Slack:

Slack is a very powerful team collaboration software which makes all your tools work better by letting you integrate industry-leading software and custom apps. This is the perfect platform to host your firm’s regular huddles and maintain a track of intra team communications.

The key features are:  

·         Recording all conversations, project history and teams change

·         Keeping clients, vendors, or partners in the loop via a shared channel

·         Connecting to other application suites like Google and Office 365

2.       Microsoft Teams:

This is a well-known chat-based collaboration platform complete with document sharing, online meetings, and many more extremely useful features for business communications developed by Microsoft.

The key features are:

·         Channels which act as conversation boards for teammates

·         Automatic document storage facilities

·         Screen-sharing facilities in a video call

·         Audio conferencing facilities

3.        Notion:

This collaboration platform that unifies all working apps into one. This platform also provides a common workspace for your work teams and groups to collaborate, share notes and manage projects collectively. Notion hosts a Kanban board interface, which simplifies digitally working over detailed projects.

The key features are:

·         Powerful notetaking

·         Assigning tasks and create projects for your team

·         Creation of templates and to-do lists

Project management and execution tools:

1.       Jira:

This project management software helps users map out, prioritize, delegate and organize their tasks. Jira is simple yet intuitive interface allows teams to seamlessly collaborate and execute projects. This platform also has a wide variety of supported integrations that you can tailor the system to include functionalities that you need at any point in time.

The key features are:

·         Scrum boards which help teams stay focused iterative and incremental value without consuming much time

·         Kanban board that helps in gaining full visibility about what is coming up next

·         Roadmaps which help in communicating the bigger picture to stakeholders

·         Connecting issues to codes and helps in tracking bugs and issues

2.       Trello:

Trello is another powerful Kanban – style project management software. This platform’s boards, lists, and cards enable teams to organize and prioritize projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.

The key features are:

·         Detailed & Quick Overviews of Front/Back Cards

·         Secure data encryption facilities

·         Easy Organization with Labeling, Tags, and Comments

3.       Asana:

This project management and execution platform organizes work so teams know what to do, why it matters, and how to get it done. Asana provides the much-needed single shared platform enabling each member to collaborate remotely and view projects suited to their own styles.

The key features are:

·         Task assignees- Dedicated a clear owner to a task, so everyone knows who’s responsible

·         Creating drop-down, number, or text custom fields in projects and Portfolios to capture information uniformly, track the status, and to sort and filter information

·         Top integrations with other applications like Jira cloud, Google and Microsoft

Innovation, Product Design, Creativity:

1.       Mural:

This innovation and brainstorming platform enables work teams to collaborate visually and solve important problems. Mural's USP lies in its easy to work with interface, which makes creating diagrams and visual charts easy.

The key features are:

·         Shapes and connectors which facilitate easy diagram making

·         Collaborative frameworks to organize content and ideas to uncover insights

·         Enabling multiple ways of communication among project teams

·         Company dashboard including powerful insights and easy to access controls

2.       Miro:

Miro is one of the best online whiteboard tools making it easier for remote teams to get their work done. Partnering with Miro also involves a dedicated Account and Customer Success manager ensuring your team’s success.

The key features are:

·         Entire toolkit for user story or customer journey maps, wireframing, roadmap or sprint planning, retros, and more

·         Infinite canvas and customizable to create your own creative content

·         Asynchronous and synchronous collaboration for better engage distributed and remote teams
in brainstorming, processes, workshops, and decision making

3.       Stormboard:

This collaborative creation and design platform aims at the exchange of ideas beyond within the confines of the boardroom or a conference call. Stormboard is an all-in-one digital workspace hosting high performing team meetings and projects.

The key features are:

·         Seamless remote collaboration enabling instant sharing of ideas

·         Certified data security

·         Built-in business processes

·         Instant meeting notes

PowerPoint Alternatives:

1.       Canva:

This is a graphic design platform, used to make interactive social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. This is a device agnostic platform and offers paid subscription like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise for additional features and downloading content.

The key features are:

·         A large stock of images and illustrations

·         Drag and drop editor which makes the design process seamless

·         Custom ready to use templates

2.       Prezi:

Another powerful presentation platform is that of Prezi which enables slide shows with visual movement and transitions. What sets Prezi apart is that it helps creating interactive visuals alongside your presentation, hence making it more engaging.

The key features are:

·         Presenter notes to record ideas and reminders and then revisit them while presenting

·         Live Prezi- helping in presenting content to anyone form anywhere in the world

·         Prezi Viewer- helping one navigate through the presentation using a phone or a tablet

Knowledge Base Tools:

1.       Zendesk:

This is a helpdesk software for managing internal & external customer queries and support. The major advantage of using Zendesk lies in its ability to be used as either an internal knowledge base, an IT knowledge base, a support agent-only knowledge base, or a customer facing FAQ tool.

The key features are:

·         Control access enabling you to choose who can view your knowledge base

·         Restoration of deleted content

·         Customization of themes across multiple brands or products

2.       Confluence:

Confluence is a knowledge base software that aims to give your team quick and easy access answers to their queries. The main idea behind having such a platform is to help employees, clients, and customers to help themselves via a repository for how-to and troubleshooting information.

The key features are:

·         Integration of the knowledge base with other Atlassian products

·         Provides scope for interaction with your audience via blog and comment features

·         Customization of the how-to and troubleshooting article template

After going through the list, it can be agreed on the fact that tech-based tools are becoming  the building blocks of L&D. Hence, choosing the right tool based on a clear understanding of the business processes and knowledge of work systems can help your organization remain relevant.