By Tony Glass
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” - Yogi Berra
It is tough. And we know from experience that for every expert that predicted #thehotticket, there are #slowburners or worse, #strikeout. But whether or not all that was foreseen came to pass is perhaps not the point. What matters, rather, is the direction suggested and the reason behind said recommendation.
Predictions that gamification would dominate eLearning for 2016 may not have been accurate, but such projections showed that the people driving changes in the industry were cognisant of dismal employee engagement rates. L&D pros were attempting to address this lack of connection by making learning more like an extracurricular activity than work.
This focus on the learner is once more the driving force behind many of 2017’s predicted ‘hot’ trends in eLearning.
#1 It’s all about me
Expect a greater emphasis on individualised learning—customising and personalising the learning experience to ensure everything benefits the learner. While this in itself isn’t new, thanks to technology adoption, companies can use live social-polling to show the learner how their thinking compares with their peers’. Or, depending upon how the learner answered specific questions, suggest relevant content and next steps. Additionally, organizations will be able to capture employee inputs and save them as a learner notebook, or share with a coach or manager.
#2 To Sir/Madam with love
In the past, critics of online learning have objected to how flat and passive it was; users missed the interaction the traditional classroom naturally provides. That is changing. Now online learning will offer that two-way conversation with hosts/teachers appearing on the screen and features that facilitate dialogue with the instructor.
#3 NTK is the MO
Another idea that is falling by the wayside is the notion of larger, more expansive material. Instead, lessons will be on a ‘need to know’ basis, whereby specific tasks are taught in the context of where or when the task/issue might arise. In this way, not only is learning offered at the point of need—it is also reinforced, thereby increasing retention.
#4 Widening the net
Currently content is selected based prerequisites such as the author’s industry standing or expertise. But is that approach reflecting only one perspective? Learners—and L&D pros—are starting to explore what else is being said about the topic? They’re also increasing their focus on other less traditional sources. This year, expect to see training material offer a more diverse range of sources: everything from social media and blogs to more external voices.
#5 Video killed more than just the radio star
According to Cisco over the next two years, video will account for 80% of global Internet traffic, and nearly a million minutes of video will be shared every second. This means you should expect to see – pun intended – video take over a larger share of online education.
#6 “Would you like a training video with that?”
eLearning is moving beyond the traditional employee audience. Many companies see educating their customers as part of strengthening the relationship. These organizations will invest more in customer training as a way to increase loyalty and differentiate their brand from the competition.
#7 The ‘water cooler’ classroom
Watch for more “social eLearning” - the point at which learning and colleagues collide. The learner ends up with a collaborative learning exchange with peers—even in the online realm. In other words, learning happens because a colleague exchanges knowledge at a location other than the designated classroom, whether online, in a meeting, or at the actual water cooler.
#8 The 2 R’s
Stay tuned for more virtual reality and augmented reality. Yes, they were on previous years’ lists but their meteoric rise is well, still….rising. Cost continues to be a factor in just how pervasive VR and AR are in L&D, but a Towards Maturity report predicts the number of companies using AR and VR will triple over the next two years.
#9 What’s in a name?
eLearning might just be experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. Is it ‘online learning’ or ‘digital learning?” Will we see a new name this year? Regardless of a name change, the important thing is to note that eLearning encompasses so much more than it did when it first began. Thinking more broadly about what constitutes eLearning can help organizations build and deliver more flexible programs—no matter what the delivery method is called.
Now, all that remains to be seen is how quickly these new trends are adopted (or abandoned).
Tony Glass is General Manager, EMEA, at Skillsoft.