This year, the COVID-19 crisis has reset the trends leaving HR leaders and L&D teams to rethink the way they manage and train the workforce. In this article, I list 18 eLearning trends highlighting their relevance in the changed workplace dynamics.
Every July, I relook at the eLearning Trends and Predictions I released in January to ascertain how my analysis and recommendations panned out. Training remote learners and driving performance gain over distance is the new reality. So, I re-examined my original list against these pressing needs of today.
- Even though the overall impact of the crisis is still unfolding, it has clearly redefined the workplace in the future. With an increase in work from home, it has led to a need to have an Agile and Flexible Digital Workplace. Organizations need to create a digital workplace that can easily move from 100% in office to 100% working remotely.
- As a result, Rapid Virtual Training Transformation needs to be undertaken to provide online training for remote learners. Face-to-face trainings must move to a predominantly Online/Self-paced/Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)/Blended mode that can be consumed remotely.
- Also, a long-term plan to engage remote learners – with multi-pronged approaches to connect, reinforce, challenge, and nudge toward continuous learning must be drawn up.
This article lists 18 eLearning trends highlighting their relevance in the changed workplace dynamics. I have grouped them as:
- Trends that are in the spotlight (“must have”) trends to offer remote learning.
- Trends that equip remote users to learn quickly, apply the learning effectively, and get access to relevant content and just-in-time learning aids.
- Trends that foster continuous learning.
- Trends that help you deliver engaging, high-impact, and immersive Virtual Learning experiences for remote learners.
- Trends that help you assess the impact of remote training and aid you in maximizing the ROI.
eLearning Trends in 2020
Given the large number of trends, I have logically grouped them into 5 sections.
- Section 1: In the spotlight – “must have” trends to offer remote learning
- Section 2: Trends that equip remote users to learn quickly, apply the learning effectively, and get access to relevant content and just-in-time learning aids
- Section 3: Trends that foster continuous learning
- Section 4: Trends that help you deliver engaging, high-impact, and immersive Virtual Learning experiences for remote learners
- Section 5: Trends that help you assess the impact of remote training and aid you in maximizing the ROI
Do take a look at each one next…
Section 1: In the spotlight – “must have” trends to offer remote learning
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Mobile Learning
With changed workplace dynamics, training delivery must cater to remote learners and Mobile Learning is the way to go – Accelerated by what learners need today, this trend continues to be on top.
This trend will continue to be the dominant mode for online training delivery as well as to supplement facilitated or Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT).
You can use it to meet the entire spectrum of your training needs, including Formal training, Instant/Just-in-time learning aids, Informal learning, Self-Directed Learning, as well as Social or Collaborative Learning.
This is a “must have” trend and will continue to see accelerated adoption in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Mobile Apps for Learning
A close cousin of Mobile Learning—Mobile Apps for Learning—provides the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime.
Their real impact can be felt when they are used to offer Performance Support Tools to provide the required on-the-job support. They can be easily updated and deployed quickly, and you can easily push relevant Notifications to the learners. You can also personalize the assets for each learner (based on pre-tests or surveys).
They can be used to offer both Formal as well as Informal learning. Both Microlearning and Gamification techniques can be used very effectively to offer Gamified learning featuring a series of Microlearning nuggets. These can be easily Personalized (based on the learner’s role, region, proficiency, or interest).
With the ability to personalize and offer learning journeys from a distance, Mobile Apps for Learning are an “absolute must to invest on” in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Virtual Training – Conversion of ILT to Blended or Fully Online Learning
With remote working and social distancing at play, classroom training/ILT is not a feasible option right now and organizations must undertake a rapid Digital Transformation.
A notable part of this conversion exercise is to determine how to convert the fully facilitated or Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to a Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), a Fully Online mode, or a Blended mode. Depending on the budget and time frame for conversion, you can pick from Rapid development to Semi-custom or high-end fully custom designs.
However, the prevailing trend to transition to Virtual Training is a journey, where the elements of training should gradually shift from primarily Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), a blended mode and, ultimately, to a Fully Self-paced Training mode.
With benefits that include the flexibility to learn remotely, capability to scale quickly, ease of personalization, as well as acceptance of your multi-generational workforce support, this trend is a “must have” in 2020.
Section 2: Trends that equip remote users to learn quickly, apply the learning effectively, and get access to relevant content and just-in-time learning aids
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Microlearning
Microlearning has moved to the center stage for Virtual Training and remote learning. It is action-oriented, and each bite helps learners meet a specific outcome.
Featuring short, focused bites that can be easily consumed (between breaks, at home), it is certainly learners’ favorite format to learn, explore further, or meet specific on-the-job needs.
Its versatility makes it a great choice for L&D teams to use it for the entire spectrum of Virtual Training needs, including Formal training, Just-in-time job aids, Learning aids to recap, reinforce, or challenge the learners to review the primary learning, and Support VILT programs (Pre-Workshop assets, During workshop assets, and Post-Workshop connects).
With the changed workplace dynamics and need to offer short, focused remote learning, Microlearning will continue to lead in 2020. This trend is absolutely a “must have” for your Virtual Training delivery in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Personalized Learning
A significant challenge that L&D teams face as they offer remote learning is how to keep the remote users engaged. One of the measures that will get you learners’ attention is Personalized Learning that offers highly relevant, custom content to them. This customized journey can be drawn on the basis of their current knowledge, interest, future needs, or simple cues like role/region.
It gives them complete control on what they want to learn, how they want to learn, and at the pace that works best for them. It enables L&D teams to align the learners to the business goals, upskill, or reskill them far more effectively as compared to generic training. It also fosters a culture of continuous and Self-Directed Learning.
Personalized Learning offered as a learning journey that matches the career pathways that learners want is an approach that will impact your ROI positively and is absolutely worth investing on in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Performance Support Tools (PSTs)
Today’s learners are an impatient lot! Multi-tasking and pressed for time, they do not want to log on to an LMS to locate a course that may have the answer to their need or their challenge.
With work from home being the new normal, they want learning resources to be within their workflow (read – on their smartphone) and packaged specifically to help them or address their needs.
Performance Support Tools can address their wide-ranging needs, including, apply what they have learnt, learn further on a given topic, learn new concepts, solve problems or clear a bottleneck or a showstopper.
The extensive use of PSTs or instant learning aids and job aids will accelerate in 2020 to help organizations improve employee performance over a distance.
Section 3: Trends that foster continuous learning
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Informal Learning
Most of us are familiar with the 70-20-10 model for Learning and Development that maps the learning to be – Predominantly experiential learning (70%) that happens on the job, Social or Collaborative Learning (20%) that happens by learning with or from others and Formal training (10%).
Organizations are realizing the need to shift their training spend that is being used predominantly for Formal training to a more balanced approach. This is reflected in providing avenues for Informal learning.
This trend will accelerate in 2020 as organizations leverage this to facilitate continuous learning for the remote learners. It will offer a strong support to Formal training.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Curation and User Generated Content
Content Curation is a great way to offset the challenge of categorizing vast data and offering on-demand, relevant content to the users. It enables users to find access to information that they can use at the moment of their need. It can provide a recommended learning path (personalized) that can be further customized by the users. It is a great way to encourage Informal learning and, more significantly, Self-Directed Learning at the workplace.
If you are new to Virtual Training, you can begin by curating content from your existing knowledge base as well as from the public domain. This can be used to support Formal training and keep the costs down. Over time, it can also facilitate user contribution (User Generated Content) to keep the knowledge base current and relevant.
With the wider usage of LXP as well as Next Gen LMS platforms that use AI and Machine Learning to offer curated and Personalized Learning, this trend is becoming an important part of the training delivery. Its ability to offer on-demand and relevant content to the users are the key reasons to adopt it in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Social Learning
In the last few years, many organizations have invested on providing platforms to promote Social or Collaborative Learning. The Next Gen LMSs as well as the LXPs (Learning Experience Platforms) provide a strong core to leverage Social Learning and foster a culture of continuous learning.
Social Learning helps you create communities of practice, and you can use it as a great lever for change and continuous learning. In today’s context of spread out remote workforce, this can help employees not only stay connected but learn together.
This is a must adopt trend in 2020 and you must leverage it to connect your remote learners easily and effectively!
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Self-Directed Learning
In the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) mode, the onus of learning, determination of learning paths, and how they consume it is with the learners. They can pull learning resources from the organization’s knowledge base or from external resources to meet their specific learning goal
As this is not tracked, organizations are rather weary of this. However, the investment cost (of providing relevant, curated resources and possibly rewards or recognition for consuming them as well as contributing to the repository) is not high.
My assessment is that this is going to be a vital element to facilitate continuous learning – particularly, in today’s situation where the majority of learners work remotely.
I believe this trend is worth investing on in 2020. It would help you see a more engaged learner pool that is motivated and committed to this model of learning.
Section 4: Trends that help you deliver engaging, high-impact, and immersive Virtual Learning experiences for remote learners
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Gamification
Learners are drawn to Gamification as it makes learning fun and features rewards and recognition – that all of us love! For L&D teams, its variant “Gamification for serious learning” is the one that delivers the required ROI as it focuses on delivering specific learning outcomes (much the same way any other learning strategy does). Gamification based techniques can be applied across all corporate training needs.
It finds application in the changed dynamics as an important strategy to engage remote learners during VILT or Blended trainings.
A well-crafted Gamification for serious learning (across VILT/Blended/Fully Self-paced, Online training) will help you achieve a high engagement quotient, better completion rates, higher recall and retention, quicker application of acquired learning on the job, proficiency gain (practice and move toward mastery) and influence or trigger behavioral change.
With reducing costs, shorter time to design and deploy, several use cases and success stories, this trend is worth a serious look in 2020 if you haven’t looked at it thus far.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Scenario Based Learning and Interactive Story Based Learning
Scenario Based Learning is a highly immersive learning strategy that can be used across corporate trainings – notably, Compliance, Soft Skills, Professional Skills, Product training, and Sales trainings. It provides learning in a safe environment and helps learners learn the impact of their choices and learn from their mistakes.
Scenario Based Learning can also be used alone or paired with the Interactive Story Based Learning to create higher retention and recall, leading to a memorable and sticky learning experience.
In today’s context of changed workplace dynamics – with distributed teams and remote learners, the need to help employees align to the new normal is very high.
You can use scenarios and stories to drive attitudinal change as well as to sensitize learners on specific issues. They can be used very effectively to drive the desired action. They can be also used to simplify a complex subject or to convert an abstract concept into something that is relatable and easy to assimilate for the remote learners.
This trend is worth a serious look in 2020 if you haven’t looked at it thus far.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Video Based Learning (Videos and Interactive Videos)
With an acceleration in the adoption of Microlearning and reduced costs of development, the usage of Videos will continue its upward trend in 2020. You will see an extensive use of Microlearning videos as well as learning pathways (Read More/Explore Further) that are curated from public domain assets.
You will also see an increase in the use of Interactive Videos that provide a high degree of engagement through learning interactions and assessments, similar to traditional eLearning courses. Unlike classic videos, the Interactive Videos can be tracked from the LMS.
Their versatility enables them to be used across the Learning and Performance Improvement mandate that facilitates learning journeys from a distance:
- To create the buzz or awareness and establish WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
- To set the context or teach concepts.
- To offer learning followed by practice, application, and summaries.
- To checkpoint learners’ progress and understanding.
- To reinforce and keep the “Forgetting Curve” at bay.
This trend is also a “must have” in 2020 in your training delivery to offer highly engaging and immersive learning experiences.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – AR/VR and MR or Immersive Learning
Immersive learning (in the context of Virtual Training) is essentially training that’s facilitated through a learning environment that moves learners away from just learning through PPTs, visuals, videos, and audios and trains them by using virtual and artificially augmented environments. These environments mimic the settings where learners will not only learn better but also apply the knowledge learned through such training. Through specific measures (like spaced repetition), they can effectively trigger behavioral change too.
This is where you can leverage the strength of immersive learning strategies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR).
With easy-to-implement solutions (including from players like Adobe and Trivantis as well as niche AR/VR platforms), the cost and the lead time to develop these solutions is going down. There are also several use cases that apply Microlearning-based nuggets with AR/VR. With lower costs and high impact, the adoption of this kind of solution will increase further.
In 2020, you will certainly see more traction on this trend as these solutions become more affordable and can be offered to augment or supplement Formal training.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Next Gen Learning Strategies
Next Gen Learning strategies are a combination of multiple successful strategies and will help you achieve a manifold increase in the impact.
For instance, you can combine Gamification and Microlearning and deliver them as Mobile Learning or Mobile Apps for Learning as shown here:
- Gamified Mobile Apps for Learning.
- Gamified Microlearning.
- Gamified Virtual Reality (VR).
- Gamified Interactive Videos.
You can play with infinite variants, including Microlearning nuggets in the Gamified learning journey that feature immersive techniques like Virtual Reality (VR). Alternatively, you can have a completely VR-driven learning path that is Gamified.
If you haven’t thought of the Next Gen strategies yet, do so in 2020!
Section 5: Trends that help you assess the impact of remote training and aid you in maximizing the ROI
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Learner Analytics
With a large remote workforce, the need to analyze their learning patterns and ascertain the impact of training (on the learners as well as the gain for the business) is at an all-time high. Hence, Learner Analytics is emerging as a significant aspect to invest on. It can provide valuable insights on the learner behavior to validate what is working and what is not.
It can provide actionable insights to enhance or change the current approach and align better to the goals. It can also provide cues on what more can be done to improve learner motivation and engagement as well as what would facilitate a better application of learning.
This trend aligns to the key area of “continuous improvement” as well as provides actionable insights to enhance the learning experience. Both will go a long way in positively impacting the ROI on the training spend. Besides SCORM 2004 and Tin Can API, the AI techniques (that LXPs and the Next Gen LMS platforms offer) can be used to mine the analytics to provide a more custom, relevant, and Personalized Learning.
This is an investment you must plan for in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)
The coming years will see a steady shift from traditional LMS to LXP adoption on account of the significant value that LXPs offer:
They are fun, more engaging, and relevant for learners (and they will help learners meet specific learning outcomes). A highly Personalized Learning experience can be crafted by the learner through learning pathways.
They leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand learning patterns and make further recommendations. As a result, they encourage exploration and Self-Directed Learning.
They offer inclusive learning, Content Curation, and facilitate User Generated Content. They feature Social Learning and offer recognition to active participants. They feature assessments along with badges and certification.
There is a major churn in the LMS space, and there is clear movement toward the adoption of LXPs and this will accelerate in 2020.
eLearning Trends in 2020 – Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Learning
Earlier in the section, I had highlighted the use of AI in Learner Analytics. It will also be a trend to watch out for in the context of enhancing learning in 2020.
While it has been the talk of the town for a while, we are seeing its practical value now. It is being leveraged to offer highly custom learning pathways for the learners. Based on the data of their content consumption pattern, further recommendations can be made.
On a related note, the usage of the Chatbot as a Virtual Coach for the learners has also begun. This offers a huge value-add to an engaged, connected, and Personalized Learning that today’s learners want.
We can look forward to more applications of AI for learning in 2020.
I hope my article helps you revise your training strategies to handle the changed workplace dynamics. As you embark on your Virtual Training Transformation or accelerate it, this will help you pick the right trend for its successful implementation.
Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.
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