6 Corporate eLearning Trends Shaping eLearning Initiatives

6 Corporate eLearning Trends Shaping eLearning Initiatives
Summary: Corporate eLearning has been around almost as long as computers have been in the workplace, but it hasn’t always been effective or engaging. We’ve all, at some point, experienced the mandatory computer training course whose biggest deliverable was mind-numbing boredom. But on the coattails of new technology and employee engagement initiatives, corporate eLearning is experiencing seismic shifts some for the better, others which have yet to prove their value.

Corporate eLearning Trends Shaping eLearning Initiatives

If you’re considering launching an eLearning program or implementing eLearning technology, it’s good to be aware of the latest trends and know where the industry is headed. This awareness will help you avoid wasted investments and choose a program that provides the most long term value for your company.

Below are 6 of the biggest trends in corporate eLearning, some related to technology, others to strategy and innovation.

  1. Continued Proliferation Of The Learning Management System Market.
    Over the last several years, dozens of new Learning Management System (LMS) software vendors have entered the market, and existing vendors that previously specialized in recruiting and Human Resources have added Learning Management System modules to their platforms. Research predicts the global Learning Management System market -currently worth about $4 billion- will reach $11.3 billion by 2020, which would prove a 23 percent annual growth rate. This continued growth means more competition, which is ultimately a good thing for businesses (better products, more diverse product offerings, etc.). But what is a Learning Management System, exactly? In simple terms, a Learning Management System is a platform for tracking and administering employee training and development - whether through self-guided learning, mandatory training courses, or regular assessments. Unless you’re planning to outsource, you’ll need to conduct a thorough learning management software comparison to find out which solution is best to administer most types of corporate eLearning programs.
  2. Gamified eLearning.
    As the hype settles and true success stories emerge, more companies are experimenting with gamification. Gamification is the strategy of adding game elements (points, level progression, leaderboards) to a non-game environment in order to boost engagement and improve end results. Instead of making eLearning yet another corporate obligation, this strategy gives employees intrinsic motivation to learn by tapping into their primal desire for achievement, mastery, and recognition. Research has shown that employees are 54% more likely to perform a task if it has game elements. Vicki Kunkel, CEO of Digital Wit, recently told eLearning Industry about her firm’s experience developing a gamified training program for an insurance call center. Kunkel used team competition and a points/rewards system to help phone agents reduce hold time and transfers and engage with eLearning video modules. “Three months after the project was implemented, call hold times decreased by 17%, and transfers were reduced by 52%”, Kunkel recounted.
  3. The mLearning Movement.
    The “m” in “mLearning” stands for mobile, and the term itself was coined to describe the growing presence of mobile technology in corporate eLearning. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults now own a smartphone. Those smartphones and other mobile devices don’t become unrealities in the workplace. In fact, as many as 84% of employees use the same device for work and personal use. Many companies see this as an opportunity to extend access to training tools, curriculum, etc. For mLearning to recognize its full potential, program developers will need to format content for small screen sizes and may also need to use HTML5, instead of Flash (HTML5 supports a wider variety of media types across devices; Adobe discontinued Flash for mobile devices in 2011). Similarly, curriculum writers will need to divide information into smaller, digestible chunks to accommodate shorter mobile learning sessions; some refer to this as “microlearning”.
  4. Wearables In eLearning.
    A lot of the conversation surrounding eLearning and wearable technology is still speculative, but there are some real opportunities for hands-on industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and field service to enhance their training programs. One common example is the use of wearables for training simulations, where an augmented reality device (Oculus, Google Glass, etc.) lets the trainee “perform” tasks in a virtual environment and interact with lifelike models. Many companies have already begun experimenting with similar technologies. To give an example, Scope AR provides custom augmented reality training solutions for aerospace, medical, heavy industry, energy, and military use. Scope AR programs let the users “see” procedures animated directly on the equipment they are using by combining 3D modeling with wearable technology and eLearning content.
  5. Outside Curriculum Sales.
    As more companies author their own curriculum, many are extending learning services beyond employees, to external audiences (clients, partners, and resellers). Some Learning Management System vendors like Cornerstone On Demand use an eCommerce model that lets companies organize and sell their courses through a digital storefront. But the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) approach is also gaining popularity. This essentially means making your training course or certification open to the public through an online learning institution like Coursera, Udacity, or Udemy. By extending eLearning to an outside audience, companies can use their training materials to generate revenue. Considering the time and resource investment involved in course creation, this is a smart way to offset costs, and in some cases, even make a profit.
  6. Data Analytics.
    Corporate eLearning, along with many other business units, is being swept up in the “big data” trend. A greater focus on ROI (Return On Investment) means program stakeholders need ways to monitor user engagement and connect training initiatives with measurable end results (e.g. increased productivity, reduced downtime). The fusion of data analytics and eLearning makes this possible. Using reporting tools in their Learning Management System, course designers can now paint a clearer picture of the learning process by tracking specific metrics (completion rate, average scores, time elapsed, etc.) and identifying group patterns. For example, if a particular training module is taking users too long, you can zero in on which piece of content or question is causing the delay. Companies also use big data tools to calculate program ROI by analyzing correlations between several data sources. Using the call center example again, this might include a CRM, a VoIP phone system, and a Learning Management System.

As you can see, corporate eLearning is on the cusp of substantial changes. Though they take many different forms, most are aimed at improving user engagement and maximizing return. If your employees are still beeping through monotonous CBT modules and delivering sub-par job performance, consider how some of these trends can benefit your programs and develop a practical plan for implementation.