6 eLearning Trends: What can we expect going into 2019 and beyond?
The history of “distance learning” can be traced as far back in time as the 1840s, when Isaac Pitman used correspondence courses to teach short-hand to millions around the world. Ever since, the trends for delivering learning far away from classrooms have kept changing. “eLearning” (digital learning) only really came into existence in the late 1990s, when Computer-Based Training (CBT) became popular.
Since the 1990s there has been a significant change in eLearning trends. Internet-based courses, Learning Management Systems (LMS), Collaborative and Social Learning (CSL), and the explosion of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are all trends that we’ve experienced in the past 10 years or less.
So, what eLearning trends can we expect to witness over the next 5 years or so?
2018 saw microlearning, a trend where learners choose bite-sized learning modules to consume educational content, become extremely popular. A research report by Enterprise Learning Solutions developer CGS confirmed that microlearning accounted for over 60.7% of learning in 2018.
So, what was the reason behind that trend? Well, perhaps a report by global consulting firm Deloitte can explain. In Deloitte’s research report, titled “Leading in Learning” , they found that the modern learner has “1% of a typical work week….to focus on training and development.”
And what does that mean in real terms? Well, let’s put that “1%” into perspective. Assuming a typical 5-day, 8-hour day week, today’s workers are only able to spare 24 minutes to self-development! And how can they best achieve their learning objectives in that short amount of time? They gravitate towards compressed learning solutions, known as microlearning.
A typical microlearning experience would include short videos, 10 to 12-minute in length, followed by interactive quizzes and tests. Because of its light content structure, microlearning is particularly adept for “learning on the go” and “mobile learning.” These trends will continue to balloon over the next few years.
2. Artificial Intelligence For Learning Assistance
According to IBM, one of the pioneers of using Artificial Intelligence for learning assistance, learning behavior can be predicted. The trend for using AI in eLearning is being embraced by more businesses every day, and that tendency is likely to grow in the coming years. That’s because the use of AI not only effectively removes the “human element” from learning, but it also removes the resulting biases that humans bring into education.
According to Deloitte, by 2020 we will have made a transformational leap from digital learning to intelligent learning, all in a single generation! Here’s why:
Artificial intelligence can help personalize the learning experience beyond what human instructors and learning counselors can. And that makes AI a powerful friend in eLearning settings.
Today, corporate trainers use web-based interfaces to customize employee training needs. But because AI can take a much broader set of learning variables and quickly turn them into personalized learning paths, its more aggressive use in eLearning is a natural next step in the coming years.
3. Gamification And Game-Based Learning
When someone talks about gamification and game-based learning, one wouldn’t blame you for thinking it’s the use of games in learning. You wouldn’t be entirely incorrect, but the two aren’t exactly synonymous. Game-based Learning (GBL) uses games to deliver defined outcomes during the learning process. Gamification, on the other hand, is the broader application of a concept that turns the entire learning process into a gaming experience.
Gamification and game-based learning aren’t exactly new phenomena, but they have gone mainstream with innovative solutions with real-world application. For instance, cloud-based CRM solution market leader Salesforce.com has shown that since 2015 its gamification approach made customer engagement spike dramatically.
One of the most successful game-based learning experiments of modern day is likely McDonald’s till training program. The company used gamification and game-based learning leader Kineo to quickly train and equip its employees to learn and adapt to its new cash register system. Articulate’s Broken Co-worker is yet another successful adaptation of gamification and game-based learning to train corporate employees on critical company values and policies.
These success stories have guaranteed that gamification and game-based learning is here to stay, and that trend will only continue to grow.
AR/VR/MR is an emerging set of technologies that are becoming increasingly popular in corporate and eLearning environments. Collectively known as immersive technologies that cover Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), AR/VR/MR transform learning by redefining how learners experience and interact with the physical world. And therein lie untapped eLearning opportunities that are poised to be exploited in the coming years.
One reason that makes AR/VR/MR so promising for future eLearning projects is the ability to integrate existing information and content, and superimpose them onto augmented or virtual environments. For instance, one very successful AR/VR/MR real-world training experience came from Walmart, where over 140,000 associates used immersive technologies to train for Black Friday-type experiences.
Boeing is another corporate educator that’s using AR/VR/MR to train its employees on the intricacies of building world class aircraft. The result: Not only have employees embraced the immersive training experience, but it has cut training time by nearly 75%! With real world results like these, it’s hard to see this trend moving anywhere but upward!
5. Video Learning
Video learning, whether it’s through Facebook shares or openly-accessed YouTube content, has easily established itself as an effective eLearning medium. And that trend is only expected to grow. The proliferation of mobile devices, advancements in video technology, and the impending roll-out of 5G networks will all cooperate to make video learning a dominant eLearning trend in 2019 and beyond.
Because creating video content is so much more efficient than producing text-based notes and presentations, a number of video learning platforms have become popular among video learning consumers, both individuals and businesses.
Video learning platforms like Udemy (100,000+ online video courses) and Lynda.com (serving 10,000+ organizations with video-based learning content), Coursera, Khan Academy, and edX have set the standard for how video content can very effectively be integrated into a comprehensive learning plan.
So, what could be the catalyst for making video learning more ubiquitous in 2019 and beyond? Cost and technology! According to one estimate, in 2017 it costs an average of roughly $21,345 to create 1 hour of online content. That price tag dropped by nearly 12% to $18,760 in 2018. One contributing factor for this was declining cost of video editing.
This trend is bound to draw more video producers into the field in the coming years.
6. Big Data
More than any single trend discussed above, the tendency to use Big Data in facilitating personalized eLearning was probably a predominant theme in 2018. Advances in data analytics, cloud computing, and real-time mass data collection have meant that Big Data is now prized as a commodity to facilitate eLearning.
More companies, like IBM, are investing in corporate Machine Learning and Deep Learning solutions for their clients. And that means Big Data’s role in every aspect of the future organization will expand in the coming years. eLearning offers large amounts of valuable data, both structured and unstructured, and it will be the most logical place to capitalize on this trend.
Technological developments in massive number-crunching capabilities, and the ability to analyze and interpret that data in nanoseconds, means data on employees and learners can now more quickly be turned into usable information, like spotting performance deficiencies and creating personalized learning plans on the fly. The move is towards using Big Data for continuous assessments and personalized adaptive eLearning.
No longer will “generic” corporate curricula be offered to the broader workforce. In the coming years, we see a shifting trend for many more companies looking to leverage Big Data to create customized learning plans for each individual employee.
The Trend Is Your Friend – Embrace It!
So, what do these future trends mean for eLearning professionals and Instructional Designers?
Well, the first piece of advice I would give to anyone in the eLearning business is this: The trend is your friend. Embrace it! Bucking a popular trend isn’t a wise idea at all. A case in point: Training specialists who scoffed at the idea of eLearning ever being rolled out on smart “phones” have long since bit the dust!
The second piece of advice would be to be proactive, and not wait until a trend becomes “mainstream.” Start learning all you can about these trends now, so that you are well positioned to incorporate them into your own training environments as they become even more popular. That does not mean you have to become a “techie” overnight – far from it! Although it would be great for eLearning content designers to master each of these trends, you don’t need to.
At this stage, simply becoming familiar with them is all that’s needed to embrace them. As they become more mainstream, and your clients start demanding that you build content around some of the trends, studying about them now will give you a head start. That knowledge will allow you to pull in experts with the needed skills – which you might not have – to develop trending eLearning content for your clients.