The world of online learning is developing very quickly. Along with already known trends in eLearning, like gamification, mobile learning, and microlearning, L&D experts are adopting innovations from other fields: social media, chatbots, user experience, etc.
This fall, the iSpring team attended DevLearn, one of the world’s biggest eLearning events. There, we had a chance to speak to leading experts about key eLearning trends 2020.
Trend #1 | From Static Courses in LMS to Integrated, Result-Oriented L&D Environment
Experts believe that in the future, eLearning will go beyond courses in an LMS to become an integrated part of employees’ work process.
Clark Quinn, an expert in cognitive science and learning technology and executive director at Quinnovation, shared his vision that the information dump and knowledge test should be replaced with contextualized practice.
According to Clark, to do that, L&D should be ahead of performance support and become the agent for successfully leveraging social and informal learning.
We should see L&D stop trying to own learning, and instead become learning facilitators, developing the ability of the organization and its people to learn together – efficiently, effectively, and vibrantly.
Steve Foreman, head of management consulting firm InfoMedia Designs, also highlighted that L&D should move away from static courses in the LMS towards meaningful learning in practice. According to Steve, in the future, the approach to training will become broader: we will look not only at the worker and their skills and knowledge but at their performance. This way, we will be able to measure the impact of learning on business metrics.
L&D is increasingly focusing on multiple ways of supporting human performance, not just training and courses, but also learning in the flow of work and talent management, professional development solutions – all kinds of things that support your organization strategy.
Trend #2 | LMS of the Future: From Online Portal to Performance Ecosystem
Learning management systems will have to change too so that they can adapt to this new, more comprehensive approach to employee training. According to experts, the following features will be critical for an LMS to be successful in the future.
Integration with the workflow
An LMS should be an integral part of the employees’ workflow so that they can receive relevant, on-time assistance right in their workplace and, as a result, improve their work performance.
LMSs are course management systems, and we need to look beyond the course. First, we have to look to performance support, making resources accessible. Then it’s about social communication and collaboration, using shared documents and interaction platforms. It’s also about tracking and contextual sensing via sensors and triggers. And, ultimately, it’s about content management systems, allowing content to be pulled together by rule and models, not hardwired. It’s what I call the performance ecosystem.
According to Clark, this performance ecosystem may not be just one platform, but rather a graceful integration of different tools to create an individual-centric experience.
David Patterson, eLearning consultant and expert in training technologies and best practices, noted that an LMS that offers an excellent UI and UX, elegance, and ease of use for the learner is heading in the right direction.
Karl Kapp, a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA, mentioned that the future belongs to invisible LMSs, which are deeply integrated into the workflow process and work seamlessly.
In addition, LMS vendors should pay more attention to learning experience design. Experts highlight that human-centered LMSs have a higher chance to survive in the future than those that are built around content.
With the amount of information growing exponentially every day, a convenient search feature is becoming vital for any LMS. A well-thought search allows employees to quickly find the required information in the moment of need and, as a result, achieve better results in their work.
The search feature in the LMS is fundamental to address the “just Google it” generation and to handle the growing amounts of content (created and curated).
David noted that the tendency to Google for content must be catered to by organizations (and their instructional designers) though making curated or created courses searchable with lots of tags, slugs, and the full gamut of SEO to evidence relevance and provenance.
Flexibility and adaptability
One thing all experts agree on is that the future of existing LMS solutions will depend on their ability to adapt and evolve.
Our industry is a slow-moving beast at times. For example, despite advances, including SCORM 2004, HTML5, and xAPI, we still have LMS platforms that utilize SCORM 1.2. My hope is that LMSs move past antiquated protocols like SCORM 1.2 and offer insight on aligning our content towards more current and future technology.
Flexibility and the ability to grow, adapt, and innovate with the time will be important, as will a human-centered design focus.
To have longevity in L&D, technology solutions must continuously evolve with the needs of end-users, leverage data to shape right-fit user experience and take advantage of new techniques and approaches, including artificial intelligence, to maximize human potential and business impact.
Trend #3 | Captivating Content to Provide Immersive Learning Experience: VR, AR, Chatbots
Along with learning management systems, training materials will change as well. The time of boring presentations and not-fit-for-purpose bullet points has gone. As Clark Quinn pointed out, learning is emotional as well as cognitive, and it sticks better when learners are engaged via intrinsic interest and meaningful applications.
It’s about creating transformative experiences that develop new and relevant competencies.
Richard Goring, director at BrightCarbon, the specialist presentation and eLearning agency, stated that they’re seeing a strong acceptance of interactive content.
Clients are really starting to understand the transformative power of meaningful interaction, beyond recalling facts and figures, and it’s not just learners that are reaping the benefits, it’s the people investing in L&D and eLearning.
David Patterson noted that 360° VR videos are becoming more and more popular, offering learners much more immersive learning experiences than presentations and computer-based courses.
Joe Ganci, president of eLearningJoe, a consulting and training eLearning company, shared some interesting examples of how augmented reality (AR) can be used in eLearning:
[At DevLearn 2019], there was a keynote about augmented reality, which was fascinating. What I really loved was seeing blind people using gloves in augmented reality. These gloves feel as if you’re touching exhibits, which is a whole different experience than just hearing someone describe them.
Another trend that is gaining popularity is using chatbots for eLearning. Chatbots are used in many areas, like sales and marketing, social media, and CRM systems, but have not been used that much for learning. At the same time, chatbots offer great possibilities for helping purge the gap between the learner and the instructor.
In a classroom setting, you can ask questions, even do a role play with the instructor. You miss all that when you do eLearning. The ability to have a chatbot pretending to be a patient or a client in real-time, being able to respond to what you’re typing instead of just having choices on your screen, it’s gonna be big.
eLearning Trends 2020: Key Takeaways
- Learning will be integrated into employees’ workflow and directly linked to their performance results and business metrics.
- LMSs will go beyond courses and test results to become performance ecosystems that employees can use to get relevant, on-time assistance right in the workplace.
- Learning content will become more captivating and diverse because even today, it’s obvious for many companies that learning effectiveness depends heavily on employee engagement.
With L&D constantly evolving, what can instructional designers do to keep up with all the trends and tech innovations? Which ideas should be brought to life and which are nothing but fads?
We’ve put together a collection of skills and ideas which, according to DevLearn experts, will be crucial for instructional designers to be successful in the future. Stay tuned for our next article!