People have always had a fascination with the future. There are those who want to know everything in advance and employ all sorts of non-orthodox methods to take at least a glimpse and there are those who enjoy imagining what it can bring – the latter ones have given us some of the greatest science fiction literature.
For businesses, however, it is necessity rather than curiosity and they don’t make use of crystal balls nor do they design wild tales. Luckily enough they have the possibility to draw informed predictions and forecasts about the foreseeable future.
Top e-learning trends to keep an eye on in 2018
E-learning already is the preferred method for corporate training and it is developing as fast as the technology behind it. Here are the trends to look for in this field in 2018.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
These are probably the biggest novelties to be incorporated in e-learning design. Of course neither are new but up until now the technology was slightly sub-standard and the costs rather high. It is now becoming easier and a lot less expensive to use AR and VR for delivering knowledge.
The potential is immense since immersive learning is preferred by the new digital generations that make up the workforce of today. What was achieved by informative videos or animations could be done by creating realistic environments. This way learners will be able to perform tasks they never could before in a completely safe environment.
Learning by doing is the most efficient so the potential for AR and VR is huge. Engagement is also a prerequisite of information acquisition and it can be greatly improved by such an immersive approach. In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”.
Following the same user-centric logic, gamification of the e-learning programs will also hold the headlines for a while. With the majority of today’s employees belonging to the digital tribe, raised on technology and constantly looking for immediate gratification it is only logical to adapt the learning content to accommodate them.
Employing game mechanics leads to greater engagement, increased competition and ultimately, better learning. This is not new information. Back in 2010, a study conducted by Dr. Traci Sitzmann, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver Business School proved that “employees who used video games during their training had a nine percent higher retention rate, an 11 percent higher factual knowledge level and a 14 percent higher skill-based knowledge level.”
Back then there was not much of an alternative to video games but today technology allows for a lot more with minor investments so online courses are bound to become more and more game-like.
The 2016 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report showed that an overwhelming 98% of organizations are working on sharing good practice across the business by setting up in-house social networks. This represents a 55% increase and makes social networks one of the fastest growing tools for corporate learning.
The new generation’s appetite for this sort of interaction is rather obvious and that’s why it could prove to be quite the challenge for L&D professionals to differentiate between professional knowledge sharing and social media. Collaborative learning platforms need to be clear enough about their purpose and encourage communication between employees and departments as part of the normal, everyday workflow.
Social networking may have its space but it should not be the focus as there are already great platforms to support and encourage that outside businesses.
While widespread adoption of the Experience API may still take some time, the concept of experience-based learning programs is already being considered by more and more businesses. The idea of having all the different systems used within an organization communicate with the LMS platforms holds great promise.
The xAPI gives opportunities for greater training and HR collaboration to create stronger links between learning and talent management. Employee development should be an integral part of career planning, succession planning, and performance management.
All this can be achieved by formalizing and tracking career accomplishments and projects and matching them with formal and informal learning programs, and xAPI plays an important role in this. Furthermore, combining formal and informal learning shift the goal from knowledge retention to performance improvement.
All the great universities of the world now share many of their courses and seminars with anyone interested. Expert opinion and advice is always just one click away. With more and more great courses and resources available online, companies are moving away from expensive proprietary learning management systems and opt for more open, flexible systems.
In order to respond to current needs, the modern LMS needs to easily integrate other systems that are in use within the organization as well as tend to some of the more niche requirements of specific businesses.
Customization is a must as L&D specialists need an open framework in order to do their job right. Business needs change constantly and rapidly so shifts in direction may occur with rather high frequency. Technology should allow for integration of new content and extension in functionality. Inflexible roadmaps will soon be a thing of the past.
In the end
Of course, if there is one thing to be said about the future is that nobody can know precisely what it holds. There may still be some surprises but the above five trends are definitely landmarks on the online learning road ahead.
Roxana is a learning and development professional with over 10 years experience in corporate training.