13 Corporate eLearning Trends For 2018
bbernard/Shutterstock.com

The Top Corporate eLearning Trends For 2018 In Delivery, Learning, And Content

Business learning has changed dramatically in the last two decades. From a standardized, classroom-based, instructor-led framework, organizations can now take advantage of a host of digital tools to create a new kind of learning experience. These tools can make training interactive, virtual, mobile, and available on-demand by the student. A Learning Management System (LMS) with robust capabilities can help a company build a training library, to ensure that employees are prepared with the skills and knowledge to meet current and future challenges.

But, to plan for a comprehensive training and development program, it is important to know what technologies are available, and what trends in content and delivery will best suit the needs of a specific population of eLearners. Does your organization require regulatory certification of employees? Or would training in a particular tool, device, or technological platform be more valuable?

Perhaps, as in most companies, employees in different departments or positions have different needs, requiring a mix of content and of delivery systems. Technology can help connect eLearners in many ways. It can help to customize training for individual needs (beginner to advanced), appeal to different types of learners (visual versus experiential), and can be created for dissemination at the learner’s convenience, eliminating many costly scheduling issues.

There are many advantages of eLearning compared to traditional, classroom-style training. It has higher levels of student engagement, offers a lower-cost, effective solution with faster delivery, and with a comprehensive Learning Management System it makes tracking, certification, and reporting easy and accurate. Let's take a look at the top corporate eLearning trends for 2018.

Trends In Delivery

2018 promises to be an exciting year of advancements in eLearning, particularly as technological advancements are translated into new, better methods of delivering training throughout the organization.

1. Video Instructor-Led Training (VILT)

While instructor-led training (ILT) is still a preferred method of delivering training to employees, video-based ILT (VILT) is on the rise. Video and audio equipment required to make a quality training video is becoming less expensive and is readily available. In fact, with the correct audio enhancement, a quality video can be produced and edited on many types of smartphones.

The advantages of VILT are many. There is no limit to the number of employees who can take part in video-based training, and they are not limited by physical location or schedule availability. VILT training sessions can be viewed at any time, and on a video-enabled LMS system, employee participation can be noted and tracked for reporting purposes. Also, with VILT you can be sure that each participant receives exactly the same information.

In traditional ILT classes, a small variation in the presentation could result from using different presenters, or stem from a question asked by a participant in one session but not the other. These inconsistencies could lead to future problems with the message or information meant to be conveyed by the training. Ultimately, assurance that you are sending a consistent message to all participants is a positive aspect of VILT.

2. Interactive VILT

Another exciting aspect of video-based training is the rise of interactive video-based learning. Interactive videos might feature a live instructor, interacting with students in an online, geographically diverse setting. Essentially, this is an instructor-led class that can accommodate live learners in different locations, without the need for on-site arrangements.

Alternatively, a recorded video may be created that incorporates a branching scenario, where a participant can make a choice at a certain spot in the presentation. This allows for the benefits of pre-recorded VILT, while still engaging the student by incorporating letheir participation in the content delivery. It is important for corporate training and development managers to ensure that their eLearning or LMS has functional video capabilities.

As video and interactive video continue to be a preferred method of content delivery, both from the educator and the student side, harnessing the power of recorded, live, and interactive video learning will be a powerful tool in corporate eLearning.

3. Gamification

Turning eLearning efforts into a game for participants is an emergent approach to instruction that is gaining traction throughout the eLearning sphere. Gamification has the power to engage students and encourages continued participation using the elements of gaming (points, achievements, scoreboards), the mechanics of gaming (moving through levels, scoring, avatars) and game-based thinking.

In 2016, the game-based learning market reached $2.6 billion, while projected growth figures estimate that it will reach $7.3 billion by 2021. Used properly, gamification of eLearning applications can help to increase engagement and illustrate progress toward a goal, while creating challenges and meeting them helps to instill and reinforce a sense of accomplishment specifically connected to training and development. In one study, 89% of people surveyed said that they would be more engaged with an eLearning application if it had a point system, while 80% said that they would be more productive if their organization was more game-like. An additional 60% said they would be motivated by leaderboards and increased competition among students. Gamification can be applied in different ways to motivate people with different types of reward systems.

Some employees respond better to intrinsic rewards; in gamification, this could be represented by the unlocking of achievements or receipt of a badge at the successful completion of a training segment. Employees who respond better to extrinsic rewards will be more motivated by incorporating competition to the segment, for example, with a public leaderboard. However, gamification must be implemented properly to be most effective. Some tips to incorporate gamification into your eLearning strategy include:

  • Align gamification strategy with measurable goals
  • Track engagement
  • Make it aesthetically pleasing
  • Combine intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Keep it simple

4. Podcasts

Podcasts are appealing because they are inexpensive to create and distribute, and offer similar benefits as video-based learning, but are even more portable and accessible. Additionally, as podcasts of all kinds grow in popularity, it is likely that your employees are familiar with the basics of the podcast format.

In 20173, 112 million Americans have listened to at least one podcast, with 67 million regular monthly listeners, and 42 million weekly. These numbers have risen steadily year-over-year, with the largest gains in the 25-54 age group over the past year. Educational podcasts are the second-most popular category of podcast, with 40% of all podcasts falling into the educational category. Employees become more familiar with the podcast and comfortable with it as a means of receiving practical, informative content.

5. AR/VR

Augmented and Virtual Reality offer exciting new ways to deliver training to eLearners. Virtual Reality, in particular, has been a technology to watch for many years now. However, recent advancements in technology are making AR and VR technologies that are accessible and increasingly cost-effective.

With the runaway success of AR game Pokemon Go last year, the potential of Augmented Reality to expand beyond gaming is of rising interest. Augmented Reality applications may be cheaper and easier to develop than Virtual Reality, but each is best suited to different scenarios. The immersive experience available in Virtual Reality may be best suited to teaching high-risk, complex, or dangerous procedures.

For example, a Virtual Reality program can help a pilot or surgeon gain experience without risking lives or expensive equipment in the hands of inexperienced practitioners. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, is suited to those learners in need of on-the-spot information. For example, if an employee is confronted with a new tool, or technology, a mobile-enabled app with AR capabilities can be used to disseminate information with immediacy in the learner’s actual environment.

Trends in Learning

6. Adaptive / Personalized / Customized learning

Adaptive learning is the result of taking a learning module from an existing library and customizing it for different companies, or departments, or jobs within those companies. Often, a learner will take a pre-training assessment to determine where, within the module, the greatest need for training lies, and then the module is personalized to focus on the areas where learner knowledge is weak at the outset. Personalized learning then addresses the specific needs of the learner, making the best use of training time by providing a focused, individualized experience. In this way, customization down to the individual level is achievable, but in a cost-effective, modular framework.

7. Artificial Intelligence

One method that can be used to create adaptive, customized learning is by using artificial intelligence. With AI, educators can understand employee behaviors and predict training needs by recommending content based on this understanding. AI can be used to create a chatbot or learning wizard that can recommend training content based on new projects, teams, career development paths; both current and future development needs.

Using AI to anticipate training needs and make recommendations on modules available in the LMS to answer those needs is one way that learning and development will become more individualized and responsive, and ultimately of more value to the organization.

8. Microlearning

Microlearning is one of the top trends in learning for 2018 and beyond. The concept behind microlearning is the understanding that human concentration and focus is limited, and that breaking down information into smaller pieces and spacing it out can lead to higher rates of engagement and retention.

Microlearning condenses the actual dissemination of necessary information into 90-120 second sessions formatted as videos, visuals, slides, or exercises, followed by quizzes with instant feedback. Giving information in short snippets and spacing it out with quizzes helps with learner engagement and retention of information, and is best suited to a targeted, objective-specific training module. It also works well with roles that require constant training including IT, customer service, or sales.

9. Social Learning

Social learning is education that is collective, making it a group experience or shared activity. Incorporating social tools to your LMS is one way to take advantage of social integration as part of the learning experience, creating engagement and reinforcing training materials with active participation and discussion.

Some social tools include chat boxes, which can be a part of the eLearning system, allowing for real-time discussion among participants. Forums are similar to chat boxes, but are actively moderated by a discussion leader and are intended for longer, more in-depth interactions. An email system dedicated to training, called intramail, is another way to keep learners connected and engaged with the material when not actively participating in the class.

All of these methods may be used to improve communication between participants so that they have several avenues to discuss materials and potentially collaborate on assignments.

10. App-Based / Mobile Learning

Mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, are becoming more important to employees off and on the job. Preparing your eLearning strategy to ensure that content is available and can be completed on mobile devices will be vital to the future of eLearning.

Mobile learning is a key method of reaching and engaging millennials, in particular - an entire generation of digital natives that are most comfortable accessing information and managing their daily activities in the digital environment. Mobile learning is poised to meet the training needs of millennials as it can be structured to accommodate microlearning, and is responsive, easy to access, and available at the user’s convenience. With device-based mobile learning, it will also be easy to access social learning applications such as chatbots, forums, intramail, and other types of participative discussion and reinforcement groups.

11. Self-Directed Learning

In a self-directed learning environment, the students take the initiative and responsibility for their own learning. Self-directed learning makes students more motivated and goal-oriented, as well as rewarding independence and self-discipline, two characteristics of successful employees in almost every position.

Self-directed learning, or SDL, may include assistance in the form of quizzes and assessments, for students to use in determining their own training needs. Once needs are determined, goals should be set, content discovered and mastered, and suggestions for continued learning or related topics given. Some of the aspects of SDL that are gaining traction include: incorporating SDL options into an existing Learning Management System, creating individual learning plans for students, and merging SDL techniques with other trends of eLearning, including social learning, gamification, and mentoring programs.

Trends In Content

Just as eLearning systems and technology are changing, the types of content that are the focus of eLearning are evolving as well. In 2018, expect to see an increased demand for training in work-life skills, and leadership and management training.

12. Work-Life Skills

Finding a balance between work and home is important to employees, but can also have an impact on the organization, in terms of productivity and employee burnout. Poor health, caused or aggravated by work-life imbalance, affects medical costs and PTO. Employee turnover increases, a further cost to the company. Work-life balance is a high priority for employees.

The 2017 Mercer Global Talent Trends Study4 showed that 53% of employees want their company to increase focus on employee health and wellness, while 56% are looking for more flexible work options. However, studies have shown5 that a company that values work-life balance benefits from increased worker productivity, reduced turnover, increased engagement, and greater employee motivation, commitment, and loyalty.

One way to reinforce your organization’s commitment to work-life balance is to offer training in this area: to employees, on how to achieve it, and to managers, on how to support it. As companies are confronted with the cost of stressed, burned-out workforce, work-life skills training will continue to grow in importance.

13. Leadership And Management Training

Across all industries, functional and departmental silos are breaking down, as the focus of strategic management and strategy implementation becomes more project- and team-based. This requires a different kind of leader, one with soft skills in collaboration, team-building, and project management, combined with cross-functional knowledge and flexible, adaptive reasoning skills.

The 2017 Mercer Global Talent Trends Survey also found that the number one skill gap according to CEOs is in leadership. Top management is concerned about finding future leaders to manage growth and make organizations successful. To address the skills gap in leadership and management, content related to building future leaders will be a high priority in development in 2018.

Final Word

More and more companies are recognizing that in a competitive environment, upskilling of existing employees is to the benefit of the organization as a whole. Training and development are an important part of the modern company’s strategic growth plans. The overarching trends in corporate training and development are to take continued advantage of technology, to make development opportunities more accessible and tailored to the learner. Customized, interactive and tailored learning will be at the forefront, helping to make course materials even more relevant to the employee themselves.

In that vein, it is important to note that there are characteristics and behaviors of learners that will make them more likely to be successful students, and these attributes can be recognized and encouraged by L&D executives to help their students succeed.

A successful eLearner is self-motivated and organized, with strong communication skills and technical competencies. They are committed and motivated to participate regularly and have a strong connection to systems of goals and rewards. Keeping this in mind will help to make all types of educational efforts more successful in the end.

Helping to create the types of students suited for achievement in an eLearning environment is one of the best ways to ensure the ongoing success of eLearning and LMS programs.

Close