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Preparing For The New Reality

In order to be able to keep your workforce training strategy optimized, you need to be up to date with the latest trends. Every July, I relook at the eLearning trends and predictions I released in January to ascertain how my analysis and recommendations panned out. Training remote learners and driving performance gain over distance is the new reality. So, I re-examined my original list against these pressing needs of today.

Even though the overall impact of the crisis is still unfolding, it has clearly redefined the workplace in the future. An increase in working from home has led to a need to have an agile and flexible digital workplace. Organizations need to create a digital workplace that can easily move from 100% in the office to 100% working remotely.

As a result, rapid virtual training transformation needs to be undertaken to provide online training for remote learners. Face-to-face training must move to a predominantly online/self-paced/Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)/blended mode that can be consumed remotely.

Also, a long-term plan to engage remote learners with multi-pronged approaches to connect, reinforce, challenge, and nudge toward continuous learning must be drawn up.

Corporate Training Trends In eLearning

This article lists 18 eLearning trends highlighting their relevance in the changed workplace dynamics and your workforce training strategy. I have grouped them as:

  1. Trends that are in the spotlight (“must-have” trends) to offer remote learning
  2. Trends that equip remote users to learn quickly, apply the learning effectively, and get access to relevant content and Just-In-Time learning aids
  3. Trends that foster continuous learning
  4. Trends that help you deliver engaging, high-impact, and immersive virtual learning experiences for remote learners
  5. Trends that help you assess the impact of remote training and aid you in maximizing the ROI

Do take a look at each one of them.

1. In The Spotlight: “Must-Have” Trends To Offer Remote Learning

Mobile Learning

With changed workplace dynamics, training delivery must cater to remote learners, and mobile learning is the way to go. Accelerated by what learners need today, this trend continues to be on top. This trend will continue to be the dominant mode for online training delivery as well as to supplement facilitated or Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT).

You can use it to meet the entire spectrum of your training needs, including formal training, instant/Just-In-Time learning aids, informal learning, self-directed learning, as well as social or collaborative learning. This is a “must-have” trend, vital to your workforce training strategy, and it will continue to see accelerated adoption in 2020.

 Mobile Apps For Learning

A close cousin of mobile learning, mobile apps for learning, provides the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime. Their real impact can be felt when they are used to offer performance support tools to provide the required on-the-job support. They can be easily updated and deployed quickly, and you can easily push relevant notifications to the learners. You can also personalize the assets for each learner, based on pre-tests or surveys.

They can be used to offer both formal as well as informal learning. Both microlearning and gamification techniques can be used very effectively to offer gamified learning featuring a series of microlearning nuggets. These can be easily personalized based on the learner’s role, region, proficiency, or interest.

With the ability to personalize and offer learning journeys from a distance, mobile apps for learning are an “absolute must to invest in” in 2020.

Virtual Training: Conversion Of ILT To Blended Or Fully Online Learning

With remote working and social distancing at play, classroom training/ILT is not a feasible option right now, and organizations must undertake a rapid digital transformation.

A notable part of this conversion exercise is to determine how to convert the fully facilitated or Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to a Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), a fully online mode, or a blended mode. Depending on the budget and time frame for the conversion, you can pick from rapid development to semi-custom or high-end fully custom designs.

However, the prevailing trend to transition to virtual training is a journey where the elements of training should gradually shift from primarily Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), a blended mode and, ultimately, to a fully self-paced training mode.

With benefits that include the flexibility to learn remotely, capability to scale quickly, ease of personalization, as well as acceptance of your multi-generational workforce support, this trend is a “must-have” in 2020.

2. Trends That Equip Remote Users To Learn Quickly, Apply The Learning Effectively, And Get Access To Relevant Content And Just-In-Time Learning Aids

Microlearning

Microlearning has moved to the center stage for virtual training and remote learning. It is action-oriented, and each bite helps learners meet a specific outcome. Featuring short, focused bites that can be easily consumed—between breaks, at home—it is certainly the learners’ favorite format to learn, explore further, or meet specific on-the-job needs.

Its versatility makes it a great choice for L&D teams to use it for the entire spectrum of their virtual training needs, including formal training, Just-In-Time job aids, learning aids to recap, reinforce, or challenge the learners to review the primary learning, and support VILT programs (pre-workshop assets, during-workshop assets, and post-workshop connections).

With the changed workplace dynamics and the need to offer short, focused remote learning, microlearning will continue to lead in 2020. This trend is absolutely a “must-have” for your virtual training delivery in 2020.

Personalized Learning

A significant challenge that L&D teams face as they offer remote learning is how to keep the remote users engaged. One of the measures that will get you learners’ attention is personalized learning that offers highly relevant, custom content to them. This customized journey can be drawn on the basis of their current knowledge, interest, future needs, or simple cues like role/region. This can be of immense value to your workforce training strategy.

It gives them complete control over what they want to learn and how they want to learn at the pace that works best for them. It enables L&D teams to align the learners with the business goals and upskill or reskill them far more effectively compared to generic training. It also fosters a culture of continuous and self-directed learning.

Personalized learning offered as a learning journey that matches the career pathways that learners want is an approach that will impact your ROI positively and is absolutely worth investing in in 2020.

Performance Support Tools (PSTs)

Today’s learners are an impatient lot! Multitasking and pressed for time, they do not want to log in to an LMS to locate a course that may have the answer to their need or challenge. As working from home is the new normal, they want the learning resources to be within their workflow and packaged specifically to help them or address their needs.

Performance support tools can address their wide-ranging needs, including applying what they have learned, learning further on a given topic, learning new concepts, solving problems or clearing a bottleneck or a showstopper. The extensive use of PSTs or instant learning aids and job aids will accelerate in 2020 to help organizations improve employee performance over a distance.

3. Trends That Foster Continuous Learning

Informal Learning

Most of us are familiar with the 70-20-10 model for Learning and Development that maps the learning to be predominantly experiential learning (70%) that happens on the job, social or collaborative learning (20%) that happens by learning with or from others and formal training (10%).

Organizations are realizing the need to shift the time spent predominantly in formal training to a more balanced approach. This is reflected in providing avenues for informal learning.

This trend will accelerate in 2020 as organizations leverage this to facilitate continuous learning for remote learners. It will offer a strong support to formal training and it will greatly influence their workforce training strategy.

Curation And User-Generated Content

Content Curation is a great way to offset the challenge of categorizing vast data and offering on-demand, relevant content to the users. It enables users to find access to information they can use at their moment of need. It can provide a recommended learning path (personalized) that can be further customized by the users. It is a great way to encourage informal learning and, more significantly, self-directed learning at the workplace.

If you are new to virtual training, you can begin by curating content from your existing knowledge base as well as from the public domain. This can be used to support formal training and keep the costs down. Over time, it can also facilitate user contribution (User-Generated Content) to keep the knowledge base current and relevant.

With the wider usage of LXPs as well as Next-Gen LMS platforms that use AI and machine learning to offer curated and personalized learning, this trend is becoming an important part of the training delivery. Its ability to offer on-demand and relevant content to the users is the key reason to adopt it in 2020.

Social Learning

In the last few years, many organizations have invested in providing platforms to promote social or collaborative learning. The Next-Gen LMSs as well as the LXPs (Learning Experience Platforms) provide a strong core to leverage social learning and foster a culture of continuous learning.

Social learning helps you create communities of practice, and you can use it as a great lever for change and continuous learning. In today’s context of remote workforces, this can help employees not only stay connected but also learn together.

This is a must-adopt trend in 2020, and you must leverage it to connect with your remote learners easily and effectively!

Self-Directed Learning

In the self-directed learning (SDL) mode, the onus of learning, determination of learning paths, and how they consume it is with the learners. They can pull learning resources from the organization’s knowledge base or from external resources to meet their specific learning goals.

As this is not tracked, organizations are rather weary of this. However, the investment cost of providing relevant, curated resources and possibly rewards or recognition for consuming them as well as contributing to the repository is not high.

My assessment is that this is going to be a vital element in facilitating continuous learning, particularly, in today’s situation where the majority of learners work remotely. I believe this trend is worth investing in in 2020. It would help you see a more engaged learner pool that is motivated and committed to this model of learning.

4. Trends That Help You Deliver Engaging, High-Impact, And Immersive Virtual Learning Experiences For Remote Learners

Gamification

Learners are drawn to gamification as it makes learning fun and features rewards and recognition—that all of us love! For L&D teams, its variant, "gamification for serious learning,” is the one that delivers the required ROI as it focuses on delivering specific learning outcomes—in pretty much the same way any other workforce training strategy does. Gamification-based techniques can be applied to all corporate training needs.

It is applied in the changed dynamics as an important workforce training strategy to engage remote learners during VILT or blended training.

Well-crafted gamification for serious learning through VILT/blended/fully self-paced, online training will help you achieve a high engagement quotient, better completion rates, higher recall and retention, quicker application of the acquired learning on the job, proficiency gain (practice and move toward mastery) and behavioral change.

With reducing costs, shorter time to design and deploy, several use cases and success stories, this trend is worth serious research in 2020 if you haven’t looked into it thus far.

Scenario-Based Learning And Interactive Story-Based Learning

Scenario-based learning is a highly immersive learning and workforce training strategy that can be used in corporate training—notably, compliance, soft skills, professional skills, product training, and sales training. It provides learning in a safe environment and helps learners learn the impact of their choices and learn from their mistakes.

Scenario-based learning can also be used alone or paired with interactive story-based learning to create higher retention and recall, leading to a memorable and sticky learning experience.

In today’s context of changed workplace dynamics, with distributed teams and remote learners, the need to help employees align with the new normal is very high.

You can use scenarios and stories to drive attitudinal change as well as to sensitize learners on specific issues. They can be used very effectively to drive the desired behavior. They can be also used to simplify a complex subject or to convert an abstract concept into something that is relatable and easy to assimilate for remote learners. This trend is worth serious research in 2020 if you haven’t looked into it thus far.

Video-Based Learning (Videos And Interactive Videos)

With an increase in the adoption of microlearning and a reduction in the costs of development, the usage of videos will continue its upward trend in 2020. You will see extensive use of microlearning videos as well as learning pathways (read more/explore further) that are curated from public domain assets.

You will also see an increase in the use of interactive videos that provide a high level of engagement through learning interactions and assessments, similar to traditional eLearning courses. Unlike classic videos, interactive videos can be tracked by the LMS.

Their versatility enables them to be used across the learning and performance improvement mandate that facilitates learning journeys from a distance:

  • To create the buzz or awareness and establish WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)
  • To set the context or teach concepts
  • To offer learning followed by practice, application, and summaries
  • To checkpoint learners’ progress and understanding
  • To reinforce and keep the “forgetting curve” at bay

This trend is also a “must-have” in 2020 in your training delivery to offer highly engaging and immersive learning experiences and enhance your workforce training strategy.

AR/VR And MR Or Immersive Learning

Immersive learning (in the context of virtual training) is essentially training that’s facilitated through a learning environment that moves learners away from just learning through PPTs, visuals, videos, and audios and trains them by using virtual and artificially augmented environments. These environments mimic the settings where learners will not only learn better but also apply the knowledge learned through such training. Through specific measures—like spaced repetition—they can effectively trigger behavioral change, too.

This is where you can leverage the strength of immersive learning strategies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

With easy-to-implement solutions—including players like Adobe and Trivantis as well as niche AR/VR platforms— the cost and lead time to develop these solutions are going down. There are also several use cases that apply microlearning-based nuggets with AR/VR. With lower costs and high impact, the adoption of this kind of solution will increase further.

In 2020, you will certainly see more traction on this trend as these solutions become more affordable and can be offered to augment or supplement formal training.

Next-Gen Learning Strategies

Next-Gen learning strategies are a combination of multiple successful strategies and will help you achieve a manifold increase in the impact.

For instance, you can combine gamification and microlearning, and deliver them as mobile learning or mobile apps for learning as shown here:

  • Gamified mobile apps for learning
  • Gamified microlearning
  • Gamified Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Gamified interactive videos

You can play with infinite variants, including microlearning nuggets in the gamified learning journey that feature immersive techniques like Virtual Reality (VR). Alternatively, you can have a completely VR-driven learning path that is gamified.

If you haven’t thought of the Next-Gen strategies yet, do so in 2020!

5. Trends That Help You Assess The Impact Of Remote Training And Aid You In Maximizing The ROI

Learner Analytics

With a large remote workforce, the need to analyze their learning patterns and ascertain the impact of training on the learners as well as the gain for the business is at an all-time high. Hence, learner analytics is emerging as a significant aspect to invest in. It can provide valuable insights into the learners' behavior to validate what is working and what is not.

It can provide actionable insights to enhance or change the current approach and align it better with the goals. It can also provide cues on what more can be done to improve learner motivation and engagement as well as what would facilitate a better application of learning.

This trend aligns with the key area of “continuous improvement,” as well as provides actionable insights to enhance the learning experience. Both will go a long way in positively impacting the ROI of the training. Besides SCORM 2004 and Tin Can API, the AI techniques that LXPs and the Next-Gen LMS platforms offer can be used to mine the analytics and provide a more custom, relevant, and personalized learning.

This is an investment you must plan for in 2020.

Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)

The coming years will see a steady shift from traditional LMSs to LXP adoption because of the significant value that LXPs offer:

  • They are fun, more engaging, and relevant for learners and they will help learners meet specific learning outcomes. A highly personalized learning experience can be crafted by the learner through learning pathways.
  • They leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand learning patterns and make further recommendations. As a result, they encourage exploration and self-directed learning.
  • They offer inclusive learning, content curation, and they facilitate User-Generated Content. They feature social learning and offer recognition to active participants. They feature assessments along with badges and certifications.

There is a major churn in the LMS space and there is clear movement toward the adoption of LXPs. This will accelerate in 2020.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) In Learning

Earlier in this section, I highlighted the use of AI in learner analytics. It will also be a trend to watch out for in the context of enhancing learning in 2020.

While it has been the talk of the town for a while, we are seeing its practical value now. It is being leveraged to offer highly custom learning pathways for the learners. Based on the data of their content consumption pattern, further recommendations can be made.

On a related note, the usage of the chatbot as a virtual coach for the learners has also begun. This adds huge value to the engaged, connected, and personalized learning that today’s learners want.

We can look forward to more applications of AI for learning in 2020, especially regarding workforce training strategies.

I hope my article helps you revise your training strategies to handle the changed workplace dynamics. As you embark on your virtual training transformation or accelerate it, this will help you pick the right trend for its successful implementation.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

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