December is a hard month. There are only four weeks until the end of the year, and millions of things to be done by then. Supermarkets show off specific isles for the holiday season, people are thinking of what gifts to buy for their loved ones, New Year’s Eve plans are on everyone’s lips.

As if that wasn’t enough, the amount of work in December seems to triple. Well, maybe it’s not exactly three times more than in any other month, but it sure seems that way. Making end-of-the year reports and thinking about strategies for the year to come definitely add up to the so-called normal work. But hey, how else could you afford holiday season shopping, being Santa for your friends and family, and a nice location with a lot of food on the table in the night between the years if you don’t work in December? (Ignore this question if you’re a millionaire, please.)

The good news is that all the extra work is worth it. End-of-the-year reports clearly show the progress you and your team made during the entire year. They also show weaknesses to strengthen, and opportunities to follow. When should these become real if not in the next year?

Company strategies — and department strategies within company strategies — are easy to do once you look at the numbers, both internal and external to one’s organization. While internal ones are specific, and come from end-of-the-year reports, external numbers usually translate into industry trends.

7 e-learning trends for 2017

If you have to contribute to your company’s training and professional development strategy for the year to come, you might want to keep an eye on a few e-learning trends for 2017. Some are rather new to the L&D arena, others are currently under the spotlight, while others are proven tactics that will continue to lead to great results.

Let the drumroll begin for seven e-learning trends that could shape up business training strategies in 2017:

  1. Mobile learning. With growing numbers of mobile devices ownership, it’s no wonder more and more people use them as tools for workplace learning. Being able to access training courses on mobile devices helps employees get the right piece of information just when they need it. E-learning experts and enthusiasts have been talking about the advantages of the use of mobile devices for quite a while now, but 2017 will see more LMSs built with responsive design, better on-off sync with mobile apps, and more training courses specifically created for mobile learning.
  2. Gamification. Receiving instant feedback on every step of the way, being rewarded for a job well done, getting recognition for your great results, all while having a little fun — these concepts are made possible in training courses through gamification. Serious games and simulations destroy any triviality associated with the idea of playing games at work, and emphasize their usefulness in training people for high-risk situations. Gamified learning content increases learner engagement, as well as retention rates. Gamification is no longer the new kid on the e-learning block; it’s a tested and proven technique that leads to great results when used in an L&D strategy, and 2017 will have its fair share of it.
  3. Personalized learning. Learning experiences at work come in all shapes and sizes, from formal courses to individual research and study to social interaction with peers and managers. Considering that people also have different learning styles, it’s really hard for instructional designers to deliver training that fits each employee like a glove. But with xAPI and LRS (learning record stores) trainers can gather much more learning data and create personalized learning paths for employees. More LMS vendors will offer xAPI integration in 2017, so more L&D professionals will be able to offer more personalized training.
  4. Machine learning. Or deep learning. Often used interchangeably, these terms actually refer to different things: machine learning is an approach to achieve artificial intelligence (AI), while deep learning is a technique for implementing machine learning. When learning management systems will be so intelligent as to be able to know how to use big data and innovative tools (like VR and AR for example), trainees will have truly immersive learning experiences. Perhaps it’s too early to see a big progress, but I’m sure there will be a lot more discussions in 2017 about machine learning and how it can transform training programs.
  5. Social media learning. Social media channels can be powerful tools for workplace learning. As long as people will be working together, there’ll always be some social learning involved in training programs. And since technology is always developing, and out digital fingerprints are getting bigger and more complex, we might as well learn new things through using social media. LinkedIn is the leader here, with its acquirement of professional learning platform Lynda.com, and developing LinkedIn Learning. Users can already find thousands of online courses and video tutorials on various topics related to business and personal development. Maybe more – or new – social media platforms will follow through in 2017.
  6. Bite-sized learning. Recent studies found that intense focus lasts for around 20 minutes for humans. This means that we need new information delivered to us in shorter, more manageable chunks. Keeping in mind that the average employee spends quite some time on their mobile devices, which impose some screen resolution restraints for course designers, learning content can no longer come in just big forms. In fact, in 2017, instructors will have to chunk and reorganize many more of their courses, and create new ones with micro-learning modules.
  7. Video-based training. Whenever employees realize the existence of a learning gap, one of the first knowledge sources they go to is YouTube. YouTube’s repository of searchable, immediately available video content makes it a top preference for filling in missing skills. Video is a powerful way to reach employees’ attention, as it involves more senses in the learning process. Seeing similar people, or recognizing familiar working activities in a video are unconscious triggers that contribute to learners’ better retention of the new information. In 2017, more instructional designers will lean towards video-based training.

 
So, if you are in any sort involved in developing the learning and development strategy in your organization for the year to come, I hope you’ll find these 7 e-learning trends for 2017 useful. Maybe you’ll follow all of them, maybe you’ll follow only a few. The most important thing is to follow whichever are the right fit for you.

Author: Livia M

Livia is the lead online voice of MATRIX by CYPHER LEARNING. She writes about workplace learning and L&D strategies for businesses, as well as other training and e-learning related subjects.