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11 New Elearning Trends & Predictions for 2020 and Beyond

Category: B2B News

Elearning first sprung to life in the 1990s as a method to augment face-to-face learning. Over the decades, elearning has metamorphosed into a trendy approach that outshines the method it was initially designed to support. Numerous technology, workplace, and elearning trends have driven profound changes, ultimately aggravating the waning fortunes of instructor-led training.

There is no doubt; the benefits of elearning significantly outweigh those of instructor-led employee training. For example, elearning is flexible, cost-effective, convenient, time-saving, and it’s suitable for tech-savvy millennials and Gen Zers. However, even with the best learning management platforms, without proper knowledge of the latest elearning developments, it can be challenging to reap these benefits.

In this post, we’ve culled the latest elearning trends to help you understand how the ground is shifting. Understanding these will enable you to execute training delivery for effective employee development. Besides, it will help you tweak your employee training strategies to reach the desired return on investment.

key elearning trends

Did you know that the first computerized training course was developed in the 1960s? Yes, this is true. However, it was not until the dawn of the internet (in the 1990s) that the elearning sector started to blossom. And since then, elearning industry revenue has been on an upward trajectory. In fact, since the turn of the century, elearning revenue has risen by 900%, and the speed of growth isn’t showing signs of letting up any soon.

So, what has compelled the exponential growth of elearning?

The first and most apparent reason why elearning is growing fast is digitization. The rapid growth of digital connectivity, information, and devices has given elearning the momentum it needs to remain afloat. Also, the inherent cost-effectiveness and flexibility of elearning have been driving market growth. Additionally, there is a burgeoning comprehension of just how significant elearning is to corporate training.

For example, organizations have realized that using the best elearning software tools can increase productivity by 30%. Not just that, elearning boosts employee engagement by 18%, and it typically requires up to 60% less employee time. Most importantly, elearning has better knowledge retention rates (up to 60%) compared with face-to-face training. These and other benefits have been too enticing to ignore. It’s hardly surprising, for example, that 77% of US organizations utilized elearning systems in 2017.

Benefits of of Elearning in Corporate Training

60%

Increase knowledge retention

30%

Increase productivity

18%

Boost employee engagement

Source: Shiftelearning

Designed by

The elearning industry has benefited greatly from changing learning habits, the rise of the multigenerational workforce, and the advent of the gig economy. The following elearning trends and predictions for 2020 will help you transform your learning and development to satisfy the needs of the modern workforce.

1. Mobile Learning

Mobility has become an indispensable part of daily life for billions of people. To illustrate, in 2019, there are over 6.8 billion mobile users, and the number is set to reach 7 billion by 2021. To put this in perspective, in 2019, the world population was 7.7 billion. This means that nearly everyone (89%) uses a mobile device.

As the number of mobile users grows, more and more people are developing a strong liking for mobile learning. 99% of mobile learners claim that mobile learning enhances their experience. Also, 67% of people access learning through mobile devices. As this happens, enterprises are making mobile learning part of their learning and development strategy.

Mobile learning is reaching maturity. It comes as no surprise, then, that in 2019, there was a proliferation of mobile learning solutions that mimicked desktop versions. We’ve not seen the best of mobile learning, but already we are mesmerized by the transformative power of mobile technology.

Mobile learning has delivered multiple benefits. For example, mobile learning allows learners to consume content when and where they want. Also, it helps instructors to monitor the learner’s performance closely. We believe that the benefits of mobile learning, like accessibility and flexibility, will keep this elearning trend blazing in 2020. So, do not be surprised if mobile technology merges with immersive technologies to deliver high-impact learning materials.

Mobile learning

Key Mobile Learning Takeaways

  • The freedom and convenience to learn on the go is the reason mobile learning is growing.
  • Additionally, mobile learning is poised to continue to grow, thanks to the increasing usage of mobile devices.

2. Social Learning

During our early years, we learn purely from others. A baby who is learning to talk, for example, learn from his or her parents and the other people surrounding him or her. This mode of learning, known as social learning, is increasingly becoming a permanent fixture in the modern workplace. According to one report, 73% of organizations will increase investment in social learning (Brand Hall Group).

Social learning involves a simple collaboration between colleagues at the workplace. It’s learning that happens through various modes like informal chats, forums, learning circles, and sharing sessions. The organic nature of social learning makes it highly cost-effective. Moreover, social training is accessible, open, efficient, and applicable to the modern workplace, thanks to the exponential growth of social platforms and robust communication tools.

Over the last couple of years, organizations have realized the value of social learning. As a result, the mode of learning is increasingly finding takers in the corporate world. Social learning is gaining more ground and slowly becoming more popular than formal training.

Key Social Learning Takeaways

  • Social learning adoption in the modern workplace will only increase thanks to its benefits.
  • The next-generation LMS solutions for small businesses will propel social learning to the next level.

3. The Inevitable Rise of Immersive Technologies

Like artificial intelligence (AI), immersive technologies have the potential to shift the elearning landscape. These technologies include Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). Currently, these are still in the juvenile stage, but they are already making a real impact in elearning.

AR is the most prevalent immersive technology in elearning. This technology augments existing training material through intriguing images and graphics. The core aim is to deliver a truly immersive learning experience that thrills and engages learners.

For example, insurance companies can implement AR to enhance fire or disaster inspections training. All they need to do is to take a real house then overlay it with graphics of fire damages. Then, use the resulting visuals to train investigators on how to determine where the fire started.

On the other hand, virtual reality entails the use of 360-degree photography, real interactions, and other interesting elements. Together, these features combine to bridge the gap between theory and real application.

As you know, humans learn best by doing, and VR is designed to espouse this principle. Put simply, VR provides an immersive experience anchor to the theoretical part of learning. Better still, it delivers practical instructional design strategies that cut distractions and increase engagement.

Currently, VR is used in high-tech training in areas like military and medical niches. Also, VR technology has found a home in other areas, such as internship training and group learning. Its ability to support distance learning is a well-timed intervention for corporate training in the modern workplace where remote work is the new norm.

This was one of the top elearning trends in 2019, and there is a big chance that its influence won’t abate anytime soon.

Key Immersive Technology Use Takeaways

  • AR and VR will continue to provide immersive learning experiences for years.
  • Immersive technologies are set to further augment practical instructional design approaches.
  • The use of VR in high tech industries training will continue to grow.

4. Microlearning

Picture this–on average; an employee has time to dedicate a meager 1% of the workweek to professional development. To put this in perspective, an employee has only 24 minutes allotted for training in a 40-hour week. Let’s face it; with that limited disposable time, it is not practical for employees to consume in-depth content. This is where microlearning comes into play.

Microlearning is a method of supplying learners with bite-sized content to facilitate quick knowledge consumption and better retention. Generally, in microlearning, short learning nuggets (2-7 minutes) ousts the long text-heavy content. The easy-to-consume nuggets are designed to help learners meet a specific goal in their learning path. This way, learners in busy workplaces can make every minute of learning worthwhile.

Microlearning is a powerful option for corporate training for two main reasons. First, the approach allows organizations to deliver unbiased and purposeful knowledge tailored to the needs of each learner. Subsequently, the short-term, focused nuggets make learning more comprehensible for all learners.

Second, you can hold microlearning via any device, including desktop, video, and mobile. This is particularly one of the main reasons the microlearning trend is accelerating. Today, there are two constraints that prevent proper training delivery. One is time, and the second is dwindling attention spans. The flexibility to deliver microlearning on any device helps overcome these hurdles.

The adoption of microlearning has been on high gear over the last two years. And, judging by the benefits it provides, microlearning will only grow in importance and accelerate further in 2020.

Professional Development

Key Microlearning Takeaways

  • Microlearning is the best to deliver knowledge in the modern workplace where employees dedicate 4.8 minutes a day to training.
  • With attention spans dwindling, more and more organizations are set to adopt microlearning.

5. Work-Life Skills Coming to the Fore

When digital learning first came, much of the effort was put into building resources for context-specific techniques. Besides, organizations made considerable investments in creating materials to bolster the existing stock of knowledge. Back then, these were unprecedented moves that perfectly suited the learning needs of the workplace environment.

Fast forward to today. The workplace has evolved, and there is a paradigm shift in the way employees consume knowledge. Not just that, the old learning tricks, alone, lack the spark to deliver the sustenance needed to keep employees motivated and productive. Most importantly, more subject areas and learning objectives are cropping up.

Today, soft and work-life skills are as critical as hard skills. It’s becoming nearly impossible for employees to thrive harmoniously and deliver top performance without soft skills. Skills like problem-solving, communication, leadership, and collaboration have taken precedence over hard skills. And it’s easy to understand why.

Work-Life and soft skills empower employees, helping them to succeed across roles. Additionally, the set of skill imparts the knowledge needed by employees to embrace changes in the modern workplace. Better still, organizations are offering the perfect blend of work-life and hard skills to gain a competitive advantage and retain top talents.

The increase in study areas and objectives comes at a time when employees’ time for professional development is at a steep decline. Also, the employees’ attention span in the place of work is dwindling. Even worse, 49% of employees are selective about the content they read today. (Prezi.com)

All these factors combined make it difficult to effectively impart work-life skills. Fortunately, with elearning, and by combining aspects like gamification and video-based learning, organizations can overcome these hurdles.

Key Work-Life Skills Trends Takeaways

  • Thanks to the significance of work-life skills and soft skills, more and more organizations are seeing the need to create elearning programs to fine-tune them.
  • Hard skills alone don’t provide enough spark to help employees navigate the changing workplace. As such, soft skills and work-life skills are now seen as necessary by employees to succeed across roles.

6. Video-Based Learning

Is there a hotter mode of training right now than video? Over the last couple of years, video has exploded, propelled by the rapid growth of video-sharing platforms. For example, YouTube users watch over one billion hours of video every day.

In addition, a survey by Wyzowl revealed that 68% of consumers prefer watching a video over consuming any other form of content to learn about new products and services.

Surely, with these statistics, video-based learning is giving static elearning content a run for its money. Today, learners would prefer to see demos, explainers, interviews, and how-tos in video format than in plain text instructions.

There are plenty of reasons to believe video is the future of learning. First, video is visually appealing, interactive, and more engaging. All these elements help video content hold the learner’s attention longer than other forms of learning. Better still, it promotes a quick distribution of knowledge, enhances content consumption, and increases retention rates.

Notably, the broader adoption of interactive videos is creating ripples in the elearning industry. The best thing about interactive videos is that they overcome the passivity of traditional videos. Also, they boost learners’ engagement via assessments and interactivities. Given that the attention span of today’s learner is on a downward spiral, the interactive video is a timely intervention.

Second, video content is easy to absorb and deliver in bits. With video, you can take advantage of other hot trends like microlearning and mobile learning. Lastly, the rise of 360-degree video has given this trend a new incentive to flourish in the coming years.

How Consumers Prefer To Learn About a New Product or Service

Short video

Test-based article or post

Manual or ebook

Infographics

Sales call or demo

Presentation or pitch

Others

Source: Wyzowl 2018

Designed by

Key Video-Based Learning Takeaways

  • The ability to capture learner’s attention without fail makes video learning a must-try for organizations.
  • With all its benefits, video-based learning is fast becoming the standard model of elearning.
  • Interactive videos will continue to gain popularity in elearning.

7. Adaptive Learning Going to the Next Level

Adaptive learning has been around for a while now. In 2017, Donald Taylor conducted an annual L&D Global Sentiment Survey. The results showed that adaptive learning was the top L&D trend, beating Microlearning, AR, and social learning. The fortunes for this trend have declined, but the trend is hot enough to claim a spot on our list.

The development of new technologies like AI and AR has given adaptive learning a lift to another level. This mode of learning emphasizes personalized learning. It leverages robust analytics, confidence-based assessments, and pre-learning tests to help organizations sidestep the drawbacks of generalized learning.

Before the advent of adaptive learning, learners went through the same modules. This ignored a lot of critical factors like learners consume knowledge uniquely, and the attention spans are different. Ultimately, it was difficult to derive positive results from corporate training.

Then adaptive learning came and revolutionized corporate training. What adaptive learning does is accentuate the creation of customized learning activities for each learner. It relies heavily on two modes.

The first one is the algorithmic adaptivity. This depends on personalized feedback to deliver content that meets the unique needs of each learner. As the name suggests, this mode depends on algorithms that analyze the learner’s learning habits to stipulate the most effective training adventure. The second is designed adaptivity. This mode of adaptive learning funnels learners through different learning paths based on their specific preferences and needs.

Generally, adaptive learning ensures that each learner goes through the most effective learning path. This way, the learner can enjoy learning and make the most out of the process. On the other hand, organizations can optimize resources purposefully to reach optimal training ROI. With the benefits of adaptive learning, this trend will only get stronger in 2020.

Key Adaptive Learning Takeaways

  • Adaptive learning delivers personalized learning. This is the reason this approach keeps flourishing.
  • Both adaptivity and algorithmic adaptivity help organizations deliver effective training.

8. Big Data in Learning

Everything about the modern workplace is changing. The mode of work, employee behavior, and learning habits. Better still, the demographic shifts in the last few decades mean that a new type of employee is gracing the workplace. All these factors, combined, means that the mode of training of yesteryears may not be effective in today’s corporate environment. For that reason, your training ought to evolve with changing needs.

This is where big data comes into the picture. Big data is about harnessing the power of the data collected by systems (LMS, social media, and more) you use. For example, if you are running a training module, the data could be the learners’ progress, test results, course completion rates, online training efficiency, or any other data that is relevant to your training.

By collecting and analyzing these data, organizations can adapt training to the unique needs of their learners. It keeps track of learner activities during training, such as the mistakes they make, the difficulties they face, and more. The system then provides insights that enable you to tweak your learning process to make it more adaptable.

The elearning industry claims organizations are using Big Data to analyze learning in a process known as Learning Analytics (LA). The advancement of digital technologies has opened new horizons for learning analytics (eLearning Industry). Today, businesses are reaping multiple benefits, like eliminating ineffective learning.

What is more, Big Data helps you stay on top of your elearning strategies. You can easily predict which strategy will work for a specific group during training. Organizations are using Big Data to understand customers. The success it has had in this realm can be replicated in corporate training.

Big Data Tracking

Key Big Data Takeaways

  • Big Data provides helpful insights that can be used to tweak training approaches accordingly.
  • Also, Big Data helps track training KPIs including course completion rates, online training efficiency, the scope of improvement, and personalized learning experiences.

9. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest elearning trends in higher education as well as the corporate and business world. And, this emerging technology has unleashed its disruptive power on modern learning and development (L&D). AI packs the potential to shake up the entire elearning realm. The most exciting developments (both new and upcoming) in elearning are AI offsprings.

Already, AI has made commendable headways in contextual support and continuous learning. For example, AI is showing extensive capability in the personalization of learning. AI-powered models use algorithms to collect data such as learner’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and proficiency.

Then, they analyze this information to understand learner’s behavior and derive insights that streamline the creation of highly customized learning paths. This way, L&D teams can prescribe learning modules and assets based on challenges faced by learners. This helps create more personalized and relevant learning experiences.

On the other hand, large organizations with comprehensive knowledge repositories are making the use of voice-enabled bots to simplify content searches. The bots use AI to help knowledge seekers explore critical materials with ease. Not just that, L&D teams are making use of intelligent robots to help kids and learners with special needs to make the most out of learning.

Overall, AI is the technology THAT enterprises needed to build learning designs that appeal to knowledge seekers. What we know is that AI in elearning is not a buzzword anymore. The technology has taken off, and it will continue to redefine the elearning landscape in 2020 and beyond.

Key Artificial Intelligence Takeaways

  • AI-powered chatbots are finding increased use in elearning.
  • Voice-based chatbots enhance training and help learners find the resource they are looking for with ease.
  • AI helps understand learner behavior and personalize training.

10. Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Leveraging gamification and game-based learning is not a new concept in L&D. The elearning trend started gathering steam in 2018, and despite maintaining an upward trajectory, it has never climaxed.

Gamification in elearning refers to the use of fun game mechanics to drive learner engagement and boost retention rates. Initially, it was written off as a buzzword. However, the technique has gone on to defy all odds and establish itself as a pillar of modern elearning strategies. Today, businesses of different types and sizes are using gamification to increase the effectiveness of learning.

There’s no data to accurately tell how this elearning trend will pan out in the coming years. However, going by the latest statistics and its growing relevance, gamification is not going to fall off its zenith anytime soon. For example, revenues from game-based learning will increase by a whopping $4.7 billion between 2016 and 2021.

Gamification allows enterprises, as well as learning institutions, to create intangible incentives that drive successful training results. The incentive can be a gift card or a financial reward, designed to induce a dose of internal competition among employees. Organizations use gamification to improve employees’ skills in an engaging way.

For example, an online course can be designed to reward learners points or badges based on the modules they complete. The goal is to inspire learners to surpass benchmarks set by colleagues and improve training ROI.

Overall, gamified elearning courses simplify the learning process. They make course content appealing to the learner, boost motivational levels, and enhance the retention of content. Most importantly, when used in corporate training, gamification helps foster an emotional and intensive learning experience.

Game-based Learning

Key Gamification and Gamified Learning Takeaways

  • The use of game-based approaches in learning helps deliver knowledge in fun ways.
  • There will be increased use of rewards in learning to boost motivational levels.
  • Gamification will find increased use across multiple corporate training needs.

11. Content Curation

Internet and organization knowledge bases are comprehensive repository packed with a sea of information. On the one hand, this means that there is plenty of information about any subject you want to learn. On the other, the abundance of information makes it challenging to identify the relevant pieces of content. According to ICD, an average employee spends about 570 minutes looking around for the information they need. (ShiftLearning.com)

This is where content curation comes into play. Curation helps you overcome these pain points and present the appropriate learning resources to learners. It makes it easy for learners to find the valuable information they need without a struggle.

Most importantly, content curation helps users create learning paths or pick those recommended by instructors. What is more, with curation, organizations can take advantage of resources that are already in the public domain without recreating them.

Content curation and user-generated content were on an upswing in 2019. By 2020, we predict that more organizations will benefit from this technique.

Key Content Curation Takeaways

  • Content curation helps organizations use videos that are in the public domain without recreating them.
  • Besides, with curation, it’s easy for learners to configure customized learning paths.

Reinforce Your Elearning Efforts With These Trends

Trends come and go, but the elearning trends we’ve highlighted have refused to fade. While we cannot precisely tell the direction that elearning will take, these trends provide a hint of where the industry will travel in 2020. Already, signs are clear that the elearning industry will only grow stronger in the coming years.

For forward-thinking organizations, this the time to pay close attention to these new developments. You need to rethink your training programs, keeping in mind the aforementioned elearning trends. Think, how best can you incorporate emerging technologies like AI, AR, and VR into your training? Are microlearning, adaptive learning, social learning, and mobile learning the best ways to deliver knowledge to your employees? Plus, as an organization, are you using Big Data to understand the learning habits of your employees?

Spend time and reevaluate your training approach. Use the trends as a guideline to redefine the learning process and make it relevant to the modern generation of learners. Besides, endeavor to deliver accessible, customized, interactive, and engaging elearning. You can also read our compilation of the latest LMS and elearning statistics to understand the industry better and know how to fashion your elearning strategy.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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