Predicting learning trends is not easy as it may sound, as some of the trends have been there for quite some time, and some have not seen the maturity or traction that is required of them. Let’s look some of top eLearning trends that will become stronger as we step into 2018.
eLearning adoption is growing steadily across the globe in the last few years. With newer technologies and devices, the approach and mode of eLearning adoption are changing rapidly, too.
Having spent more than 14 years in the eLearning space and working closely with seasoned learning professionals at Tesseract Learning servicing global customers, I am sharing my thoughts on the trends for 2018.
1. VR And AR
Virtual and Augmented Reality are currently the hottest modes of implementing training. Virtual Reality has been there for quite some time now. However, with Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality added to the mix, we have exciting new possibilities in the immersive learning space. Traditionally VR and AR are used more for gaming and movie experiences.
Their application in learning is picking up now. VR will continue to be used for teaching skills for handling high-risk tasks and performing complex procedures. AR will be used to trigger just-in-time learning. A typical scenario of AR would be a learner wanting to learn more about a device or tool, technology, or a place. Using a QR code, the learner can scan the object and get more information about it.
With prices of wearable glasses and headsets reducing, VR and AR will become more affordable for organizations willing to experiment with them. We will see more traction as 2018 unfolds. Organizations will invest and explore more of these technologies in 2018 and beyond.
2. Intelligent Assistants/Chatbots
The popularity of Siri on iPhone indicates that people are now looking to explore intelligent voice assistants. It is too early to say how intelligent voice assistants or Machine Learning-enabled chatbots will be programmed, given that Artificial Intelligence itself is taking its baby steps in the world of computing. Having said that, I feel that organizations will look to develop prototype chatbots for specific topics, like information security or data protection, compliance and so on, and implement them as an intelligent search app. These smart apps will help learners to learn as they go and augment learning in the “moment of need”. My take is that it will become popular as and when we see the results of the first implementation. This will be another key trend to watch out for in 2018 and beyond.
3. Gamification And Game-Based Learning
Gamification will continue to be an important trend in 2018. It is well established now that game-based learning and gamification have a greater impact in imparting critical role-based information.
Organizations will continue to invest in serious games, as well as gamifying their custom courses, to retain learner interest and coax them to take learning seriously by having fun. As paradoxical as it may sound, gaming increases the “seriousness” in learners, as they fully “immerse” themselves in the process of gaming.
Traditional compliance courses, information security, procedural training, product training, sales training, and many more can be easily gamified and made interesting enough for the learners to “invest” their time and energy in an activity that they traditionally don’t enjoy. Gamification will enhance the training implementation further during 2018.
4. Adaptive Or Personalized Learning Customized To Specific Learning Needs
Adaptive or personalized learning is all about customizing existing modules available in libraries to specific groups. The biggest benefit for organizations is that they don’t provide all modules for all learners. Instead, they provide focused training and increase their ROI. Now, how can this be achieved? Pre-tests can be used to gauge the current understanding of the audience. Based on the performance of learners, the modules are provided to them. Areas where a learner has scored low are addressed/remediated.
Learners are provided with specific modules, series of questions, and materials to improve upon those areas. This is going to be an important trend in relooking at the custom space. Companies really don’t have to invest more. It will be a one-time effort where pre-tests, libraries of modules, and assessments are created. Individual learners get only what they require, which is like social media feeds. The existing LMSs can be used to implement these. Thus, adaptive learning will be an important trend to implement and further experiment with during 2018.
Microlearning has already become a strong trend, as organizations look to reap benefits of this new way of delivering targeted, objective-specific, no-nonsense learning bytes. Specific benefits include quick deployment, quick learning through regular refreshers, increased productivity, and easy tracking.
Microlearning has been understood as short videos or clips, but my experience shows that it can be a learning nugget, interactive video, short game, quiz, or even an interactive infographic.
Microlearning works well when organizations create modules that have specific learning objectives. It is not about chunking complex procedures or teaching problem-solving skills. Microlearning works best when it is just in time and addresses a specific question that the learner may have about their job.
Microlearning units can be taken on any device. However, with increased smartphone usage, the demand for microlearning will only increase. I feel microlearning will make its impact felt in 2018 and beyond.
6. Content Curation
Content curation is another trend that is finding traction. In the year 2018, more organizations will invest in content curation, as its potential in creating an alternative and reliable source of providing standard learning remains strong. There are open-source tools that can help in curating information and providing learners with just-in-time information. Content libraries can be augmented and curated to give the right experience to learners. Organizations will focus more on Custom eLearning and mobile learning solutions, and use content curation for standard regulatory content.
7. Interactive Video-Based Learning
The popularity of video-based tutorials on YouTube and other online video services continue to grow. Organizations are leveraging on the popularity of videos to impart learning by having their own videos shot, adding interactivities/questions to them, and then posting the videos on internal sites. Interactive videos can have branching scenarios, too. The upside of this method is that employees will be more engaged and invested in the learning process. With organization branding added to the mix, a strong repository or library is being created with strong content. In a nutshell, it’s a win-win situation for all. Interactive video will continue to be a strong trend during 2018, too.
8. Social Learning
When learning is distributed or when sharing happens amongst peers, education improves. Forums, chat boxes, note sharing help people share ideas in a collaborative environment. Organizations will be willing to experiment with social learning platforms that are strictly built for a collaborative workspace. Social learning is not the same as social media sharing, though people tend to consider them the same thing. Tools like Facebook or Twitter are not for professional environments. Professional environments require more robust tools that aid in learning and not for sharing personal information. With popular LMSs providing social learning features, it is becoming feasible for organizations to experiment with social learning. Social learning implementation will continue to grow during 2018.
9. Workforce Enablement
As organizations are looking to move beyond automation and improve the productivity of their employees, there will be a continued focus on workforce enablement. Research supports the fact that learners tend to retain only 10 percent of what they learned after 4 weeks of attending a training or eLearning program. It is thus important to constantly motivate employees through regular learning interventions, chat sessions, learning forums, and so on. Organizations will look beyond standard learning nuggets and look for more tools that can enhance learner productivity. Workforce enablement through targeted interventions will be a strong trend in 2018.
I enjoyed writing this blog. I think I have just touched upon some important trends in the coming year. I would love to hear from you, with suggestions on what other trends can contribute to enhancing the learning space during 2018. If you have questions, please do reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.