What Are The eLearning Trends And Predictions For 2018?
We are going through a phase of significant and rapid “learning transformation“. This has led to an adoption of new, immersive approaches to creating impactful learning that can lead to the required performance gain. This is not all. We also see that L&D teams are on the look-out for measures to evaluate the effectiveness of learning.
As a Chief Learning Strategist, I have been part of many such opportunities across the world. The pointers shared by me here reflect my insights from this close interaction and collaboration.
For ease of applicability, I have banded various trends and predictions in 2018 into 3 tracks:
- What will continue to offer value
- Coming of age – An increase in adoption
- Emerging or maturing – Watch out for
Section 1 – What Will Continue To Offer Value
mLearning Or Mobile Learning
Usage of mLearning or Mobile learning adoption in corporate training saw a significant increase in 2017 and this trend will continue. With the maturing of authoring tools that are completely responsive, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) flexibility in training policy will see an even more effective use of mLearning or mobile learning in 2018.
What I see changing in 2018, would be its wider application across all corporate training needs as well as its increased use to support informal learning and digitization of Instructor Led Training (ILT).
I also envision increased usage of formats that learners use in their daily life (notably, Apps and videos) to offer both formal and informal learning and more significantly reinforcements (through assessments supported by practice exercises leading to skill acquisition and mastery).
Digitization Of ILT (To Blended Or Fully Online)
In my assessment, the digitization of ILT (particularly to blended rather than fully online) will see further acceleration.
- I see training programs like induction and onboarding adopting a blended approach.
- Others like application simulation training programs will opt for the fully online model (supported by practice sessions on the actual tool).
- Similarly, I see soft skills training moving to largely online (for knowledge acquisition), but being supported by coaching and mentoring on one hand (to retain the human touch) and leverage on platforms for social learning and curation.
- I see training programs for professional skills opting for predominantly online delivery supported by Performance Support Tools over learning paths.
I envision a higher usage of microlearning for pre-workshop and post-workshop collateral to support predominantly ILT programs.
The usage of microlearning began as nuggets to support traditional eLearning courses a few years ago. 2017 saw an acceleration in its adoption across most corporate training programs.
In 2018, I continue to see this momentum grow with more training programs using the power of microlearning for primary (formal training) and as just-in-time performance support (learning aids or job aids).
I also see an increase in the richness of the formats to offer microlearning. More significantly, I see leveraging on “learning paths” to not only offer a clear learning journey to the learners but also continuing the connection through the year (through a variety of nuggets).
Performance Support Tools (PSTs)
Offering Performance Support Tools on smartphones, so that these learning aids are within the learner’s work-flow and available to them exactly at the moment of their learning need, will see an acceleration in 2018.
Leveraging on the popularity of microlearning, in 2018 too, PSTs will be used extensively to support primary formal training enabling organizations to see the application of the learning.
They will continue to support ILT training as well.
Till 5 years ago, gamification in corporate training was viewed with skepticism. From this perception to today’s reality, gamification (full or partial) has increasingly become a part of the organization’s learning strategy.
I see an increase in gamification for serious learning to continue and extend to the programs that have traditionally not used it or used it rather sparingly (for instance compliance and application simulation-based training).
Although learning from others and with others is intrinsic to human beings, we have seen a recognition for using social learning as an important part of corporate training only in last few years.
With options for platforms or portals, I see an increase in usage of social learning to foster a spirit of collaborative learning in organizations.
Mobile Apps Or Apps For Learning
The total number of app downloads across the world in 2017 was a staggering 197 billion. Given the fact, that we use apps several times during our day, its usage for learning is a logical extension.
I see an increase in the usage of mobile apps for learning, and this will become a significant part of corporate training in 2018. They, too, will leverage on microlearning (including learning paths) as well as on gamification. The flexibility of personalization and connect with learners through notifications (on updates) continues to establish their value.
Video-Based Learning (Videos And Interactive Videos)
I don’t even need to highlight the role of videos in learning. If you were to poll the learners, this would definitely be in their top 3 formats for learning. The only challenge with classic video-based learning is the passivity and most of us forget what we learned after 60 seconds.
In 2018, I see more investment in videos that offer interactivities (similar to traditional eLearning), interim knowledge checks, branching based on the choices learners make as well as the end of program assessments.
Furthermore, you will see an integration of videos from YouTube to create a specific learning path (similar to topics in other online courses) and track learners’ progress and performance.
In 2017 eLearning Trends and Predictions, I had highlighted how LMS/LCMS platforms need to align to the way the learners want to learn. I see the trend continuing in 2018, and a shift from corporate LMS platforms that “push” training programs to personalized learning paths that learners can “pull”. Flexibility to learn offline and sync back with the LMS once you are online are no more desirable but essential features.
Rapid And Completely Responsive eLearning Tools
The next year will see further enhancements in ease of development (rapid and fully responsive designs) to keep pace with microlearning needs as well as flexibility to incorporate trending learning strategies and high impact formats.
Organizations are realizing that the budget spent on only formal and structured training (that is only one of the many ways we learn) is not enough. Providing learners with more channels to learn from, having access to precise information they need when they have a challenge and foster collaborative learning are some key aspects that will see increased focus in 2018.
The usage of Performance Support Tools (PSTs) needs to be an integral part of the training to provide just-in-time learning aids to the learners and I see this trend certainly picking up momentum in 2018.
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Section 2 – Coming Of Age – An Increase In Adoption
Learning portals were initially conceptualized for certain key programs that needed a different degree of engagement from the learners (in contrast to traditional LMS platforms). Today, they can be designed as stand-alone platforms or co-exist with the LMS.
They are learner-centric and provide a higher degree of control to the learners. The reason for their popularity is a niche and a definitive need they are often designed for. They typically feature a learning path (featuring resources in different formats) and some collaboration features (extending to curation). Most of them offer a highly personalized path to the learners. More significantly, they capture learner analytics at levels that a traditional LMS cannot or does not capture.
In 2018, I see an increased adoption of learning portals as many of the legacy LMS platforms do not provide this capability. It would be interesting to see with similar features being available in next-gen LMSs, how learning portals do evolve in 2019.
“One size does not fit all” and learning is no exception. Personalized learning will see an increase in 2018.
Using assessments (pre-test) or surveys (to determine learner’s interest and their assessment of proficiency) will help organizations create personalized learning paths for the learners. Interim check-points (with formative feedback) can be used to redirect learners to other aspects of the training that may not have been the recommended path but which would be useful. Looking at the way learners engage with various assets can lead to other, new recommendations to be made.
I believe this is one trend that is worth a closer look in 2018.
Thanks to the internet, today we have tremendous knowledge at our fingertips. However, sifting through various options to determine relevancy is often a time-consuming process. This is precisely where content curation fits in. The curator (an expert) sifts through the data and creates a learning path that meets defined objectives.
Learners are provided with learning paths, and they have the flexibility to re-configure them if required. They can also share and recommend assets from the portal. The process can be made more inclusive by having learners contribute and enrich the repository.
I believe that 2018 will certainly see an increase in content curation solutions.
Section 3 – Emerging Or Maturing – Watch Out For
Artificial Intelligence (AI) In Learning
Do I see a world where AI can replace the tasks L&D teams do in terms of defining what courses learners should take and what additional resources they have access to? Not quite!
However, using cues from learning analytics (notably, xAPI) AI can add tremendous value in recommending assets that can help the learners reach the desired goal (skill enhancement or behavioral change).
As we begin understanding learner motivation, behavior and the dynamics in the current learning path (how they navigate, what they browse, where they spend time, and so on), we can potentially use AI to direct them to areas they may not have explored.
It would be interesting to see which of the current LMS providers turns out to be the first mover in offering this capability in 2018.
AR/VR For Immersive Learning
Without any doubt, AR/VR provides one of the most immersive learning experiences. Although this has seen a considerable traction in 2017 and shows promise in 2018, it does come with a hefty price tag (and longer lead time to develop).
With early adoption in training intended for hazardous workspaces (Health and Safety training) or complex simulations, we are already seeing the beginning of usage of mobile apps that embed AR features.
Now, it is anticipated that this will eventually substitute scenarios including branching scenarios as well as video-based learning for behavioral change. This will open doors to its application in soft skills and to a wider application for corporate training.
Big Data-Reporting And Analytics And Its Usage In The Determination Of ROI
Big Data refers to voluminous data that is aggregated from various sources (typically, LMS, LCMS, learning portals, and surveys/polling or assessments in the context of eLearning). Given its large volume, complexity and the fact that it is dynamic, there is no tool that can manage and analyze it.
Big Data reporting and analytics encompass the approaches through which this data can be presented in formats that are relevant for analysis, decision making, and action. When processed right, this can give us tremendous insights on how learners learn, the impact of training on skills or behavioral change and the impact on business. It can then help in the determination of ROI on training spend.
I see an increase in Big Data reporting and analytics in 2018 leading to the further optimization of the training delivery.
This analysis can be used to understand the learner’s behavior, and the way they want to learn, the learning paths that are chosen by the learners and update the existing training delivery. These cues can be further used to create personalized and more effective learning paths that enable learners to learn, practice, obtain feedback and remediation, and so on.
Learner Analytics To Enhance Learning Experiences
Although learner analytics is an integral part of the overall Big Data that is being collated through multiple, I am highlighting this as a separate aspect. In 2017, we have seen an increased focus on understanding the learners’ behavior and what can be done to improve the motivation, engagement, and application of on-the-job learning.
Usage of Tin Can API can give a very detailed view of how learners are interacting with the eLearning courses and validate it against the assumptions and revise the learning designs/learning paths, if necessary. I see this trend seeing further traction in 2018 resulting in learning designs that appeal to learners and create the required value that businesses seek.
Over the next 2-3 years, I see an extensive use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in using this analytics and creating recommended and highly personalized cues for the learners.
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I hope you find these pointers as part of my eLearning Trends and Predictions for 2018 useful and I also wish you are now able to use them in your organization. If you have any queries, do contact me at email@example.com.
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