E-learning

13 minute read

Elearning Trends: 9 Things to Watch For in 2020

Sara Meij

Sara Meij

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There are lots of reasons why you should be paying attention to eLearning trends, so let's go through a few.

You want your employees to keep learning, growing and adapting with your organization. Offering your staff opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills is a crucial part of employee retention and the benefits of a fit-for-purpose learning and development strategy are plenty.

Improving employee experience within organizations is one of the biggest challenges Deloitte identified in 2019, with 84% of survey respondents rating it important and 28% ranking it as one of the three most urgent issues facing their organization this year.

One of the ways to stand out as an organization and to retain your employees is to provide them with specialized training and development opportunities. This is especially key in retaining millennials, as two-thirds believe it’s management’s job to provide them with continuous development opportunities in order for them to stay.

Elearning-trendsWhat doesn’t work though is overloading your already overworked staff with more tasks to complete. When they don’t have the mental capacity for growth because they’re stressed to the max, they won’t retain new information as efficiently.

A survey by Deloitte showed 80% of organizations think their employees are overwhelmed with information and activity at work, but fewer than 8% have programs to deal with the issue.

Delivering specialized, bite-sized elearning when and how it suits your employees using a tool like the GoSkills LMS could be the answer. But before you can design or change the development strategy for your employees, it would be good to know what’s happening in the elearning space. Here are some of the biggest trends for 2020 and beyond.

The biggest eLearning trends you should know about 

Elearning is big business, with the worldwide market worth USD 165 billion in 2015 and estimated to grow 5% between 2016 and 2023 to over USD 240 billion. According to Brandon Hall Group:

Within the chaotic learning environment, the biggest priorities within technology are social and mobile solutions.

Let’s have a look at some major trends and game-changers for the next few years. It’s important to remember they’re all interconnected. For instance, adaptive learning and microlearning work well together and you can use VR and gamification with mobile learning.

This means that you can create a well-rounded development strategy by focusing on some of the trends below. The future of the elearning doesn’t lie with just one of these tools, but a combination of them.

1. Adaptive learning

One technique in the personalized learning space is adaptive learning, which uses a data-driven approach to instruction and remediation.

What an employee is being taught, and at what level, adjusts based on their interactions and performance. It delivers content at specific points when learners need it to make progress. For example, GoSkills courses allow you to take a skill test, which will sort lessons according to your strengths and weaknesses, so you can focus on what matters most.

In short, adaptive learning uses analytics and large stores of data with statistical modeling to monitor students' progress and predict the likelihood of success, and adapt course material based on performance. It has the potential to extend the benefits of individualized learning to a large number of students.

Because adaptive learning is based on analytics, it’ll improve as more data is collected on more students over the next several years, becoming increasingly more accurate.

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2. Virtual reality/augmented reality

The difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is that the latter immerses a user in an entirely simulated environment, whereas augmented reality is like experiencing the real world with an overlay of additional computer-generated content.

They both offer new opportunities to create a risk-free environment through which to train employees in a hands-on way. 

They also enhance learning for employees by allowing them to experience “reality” from multiple perspectives, in recreated, remote or hypothetical environments.

There’s massive development going on in this area, and in the next few years, the hardware used for VR and AG will be less cumbersome, less expensive and therefore more broadly accessible. There’s also an increase in smartphones supporting AR capabilities and the technology will become more sophisticated, especially tools such as eye-tracking and motion capture. 

3. Microlearning

Microlearning features short (usually between 3 to 6 minutes), focused lessons using videos, quizzes, and games, designed to meet a specific learning goal. Microlearning has been shown to increase engagement by 50 percent and boost knowledge retention while cutting development costs by half. 

According to the Association of Talent Development (ATD), the next generation of microlearning is all about motivation. To learn new skills and retain information, you need a lot of sustained motivation. But what we are motivated by, and whether we feel motivated at all, changes constantly. Not really a recipe for success when you’re looking for consistent development in your employees. According to ATD:

There are reliable triggers that open up motivational windows in which employees are willing, even excited, to learn and change their behaviors.

To get the best possible learner outcomes, organizations need to be prepared to offer learning experiences at a moment’s notice just in time to utilize these motivational windows before they close.

With the new generation of microlearning available through your LMS, employees have access to bite-sized content how and when they want. Which in turn makes it easier to have your learning opportunities appeal to a large cross-section of staff at the right time.

4. Mobile learning

Technology has changed our society in ways we would have never been able to imagine back in the day. There are more active mobile devices on earth today than there are people, according to data from the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 

This shows it’s absolutely crucial that whatever learning and development tools you choose, your employees should be able to access them via their smartphones. It’s important that your elearning materials are mobile-friendly, allowing learners to access their course material on smartphones in the same user-friendly way as on their desktop. This makes learning new skills easier. It also sets the stage for implementing microlearning when your employees aren’t tied to their desks during set work hours in order to learn new skills.

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5. Game-based learning

Game-based learning product revenues are estimated to surge to $7.3 billion by 2021 worldwide, from $2.6 billion in 2016. There’s a variety of approaches in game-based learning, from fully developed games to “gameful learning”, which hopes to increase engagement and enhance learning. With a gamified LMS, when you achieve certain goals, such as completing a specific number of lessons of a course, you unlock badges, which is a positive reinforcement of the effort you’re putting in.

One of the reasons to use gamification in the learning and development of your employees is to reinforce the fact that failure is neither a setback or an outcome but more an indication that more work is needed to master the skill or knowledge at hand. 

According to Growth Engineering, we should move beyond the gamification of learning in L&D and move towards the gamification of behaviors and practice in business. According to Growth Engineering:

In the future, gamification will be a strategic management tool rather than a set of gameful design features or a technology solution. Gamification will be about how we think, how we collaborate and how we co-create a different way of learning, working and building community.

6. Social learning

The way to sum up the future of social technology is with one single word: “engage”.

You can implement social learning by creating an environment where employees interact and communicate before, during and after each training session. This is where gamification and social learning for instance overlap. 

As gamification or game-based learning develops, more collaborative games are on the rise where it’s impossible to win without a concentrated team effort. That means learners will have to share the information they’re being provided with for them to progress as a team. That, in turn, encourages a culture of knowledge sharing within your organization. 

Informal, social learning is estimated to make up to 75% of learning within organizations. Learning through self-reflection, or from colleagues, supervisors, and mentors all form part of a well-rounded development strategy.

Social learning bridges the gap between knowledge and behavior change. It’s key if you want to create a “social learning” culture within your organization.

Looking forward, social learning will be more about helping employees and less about delivering content, when it’s viewed in terms of how it can engage employees.

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7. Curated content

Curated content has been around for a while, but in the elearning space, it’s moving from creating one bespoke elearning course to a curated learning experience in and out of the office.

According to Deloitte, the best learning systems can “easily integrate any type of digital content and allow learners, as well as business managers, to add and suggest content”.

Through a learning management system (LMS) you’ll be able to deliver, track and report on curated courses. LMS admins can also select which courses learners should take, as well as add external links to, for instance, Ted Talks or one of your company resources. 

8. Artificial intelligence and learner assistance

Artificial intelligence (AI) are computer systems that apply algorithms to find patterns in large amounts of data, to undertake tasks usually thought to require human cognitive processes and decision-making capabilities. 

AI has the potential to work much like adaptive learning but in a much more sophisticated and nuanced way. The possibilities for teaching aids are endless, by giving every student a computer-simulated personal mentor. An AI mentor can also function as a scheduling assistant, can set up interactive immersive simulations and form human vs robot partnerships. 

9. Video-based learning

Visual learning is powerful and the combination of sound and visual content makes it easier for people to retain the information being taught. Employees can rewind or pause the video and they never need to miss any part of the lesson. Unlike classroom-style training, they can go back and have another listen. 

According to Elearning Industry, interactive video platforms are the way forward. Keeping concentration and engagement levels high while watching online video classes can be difficult. But the technological developments with AI and AR could bring face-to-face interactions to the online learning experience in the near future, making it easier for learners to stay engaged and get the most out of their session.

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Wrapping up

There are no two ways about it; if you want your staff to get the most out of training and development opportunities, you have to include elearning tools as part of the mix. Knowing what’s hot and happening in the elearning space and what the industry is moving towards is crucial to success.

To recap, here are the nine biggest elearning trends for 2020 and beyond:

  1. Adaptive learning
  2. Virtual reality/augmented reality
  3. Microlearning
  4. Mobile learning
  5. Game-based learning
  6. Social learning
  7. Curated content
  8. Artificial intelligence and learner assistance
  9. Video-based learning

Use a combination of these tools to create a development strategy your employees need to thrive and reap the benefits with increased employee satisfaction, better staff retention and more knowledge sharing across your organization. 

Are you keen to stay ahead of the trends and offer your employees the best online learning tools available? Check out the GoSkills LMS today.

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Sara Meij

Sara Meij

Sara is an online communications expert and former journalist. In her spare time she loves Latin dancing and getting outdoors to run, hike or mountain bike.

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