How To Create Next Generation eLearning

How To Create Next Generation eLearning
Rock and Wasp/
Summary: Way back in October 1999, during a seminar on Computer Based Training (CBT) in Los Angeles, a new phrase was introduced to the audience for the very first time – eLearning. Back then, while Internet access to the masses was restricted, training course developers (mostly programmers and IT professionals) still managed to produce eLearning courseware accessible through intranet, CD-Rom, and – to a lesser extent, via a handful of websites. Today, with instant communication available to the masses and cloud-based learning on the rise, the next generation of eLearning is poised for takeoff. In this article, we’ll talk about what it will take to create next generation eLearning.

Guiding Principles On How To Create Next Generation eLearning

The next generation of eLearning will be based on an eclectic view of learning, and not focused on single viewpoints such as socio-constructivism or behaviorism.  The guiding principles for an eclectic-focused eLearning environment of the future will therefore be drawn from a cross-pollination of various educational views- including cognitive constructivism, behaviorism and socio-constructivism.

5 Characteristics Of Next Generation Learners

Before we do a deep delve into what’s required of Instructional Designers and eLearning developers to create next generation eLearning courses, let’s take a look at some of the salient features of next-gen learners:

1. They Are Dynamic

That means your courses must be flexible and adaptable to learners’ changing needs and schedules. For instance, in the future, learners may expect assignment submissions to be acceptable via social media postings or text messaging.

2. They Are Pressed For Time

Which means you need to produce courses that are concise and succinct.

3. They Dislike Stereotypes

They’ll expect their eLearning to go beyond the cookie-cutter that most of today’s courses follow. Instead, you’ll need to produce courses that can be personalized for individual learners.

4. They Are On The Go

That means mobile, on-demand, any-time-anywhere courses, which support multiple platforms (desktops, smartphones, tablets, TVs), and have seamless transitions – e.g.: Start on a smartphone, continue on a tablet, and end on a big-screen TV at home.

5. They Are Looking For Holistic Learning

That means you need to integrate a lot more cross-platform content (video, games, TV, simulation, audio) into your courses.

All of the above characteristics should be kept in mind when developing the guiding principles that will help you create next generation eLearning. While some of today’s online learning has already started to include some of these points, increasingly, course developers tend to stick to niche approaches for course development. Unfortunately, that method may not work!

The next generation of learners will expect more cooperation and integration between various aspects of their courses (e.g. traditional learning with social media platforms) to provide them a one-stop, complete learning experience.

What’s needed?

11 Trends To Keep In Mind When You Create Next Generation eLearning

eLearning, as it happens today, will change significantly over the next few years. That’s because not only will technology evolve, but resulting changes to social behavior will also dictate how learners consume training content.

Here are some trends and thoughts for consideration when creating next generation eLearning courses:

1. Micro Modules

The next generation of eLearners will be pressed for time. Therefore, eLearning will need to be lean and light, with content that can be consumed in micro-bite sizes.

2. Social Learning

eLearning courseware will need to leverage a much broader array of content, videos, news feeds and live streaming events. Your eLearning content will need to be enabled for consumption through an array of social platforms.

3. Measurable Content

Core content in next-gen eLearning will have to be more measurable than what Learning Management System tools offer today. Course developers will need their content to interface with features like predictive analytics and other advanced learning tracking and management tools.

4. Tighter Integration

Today's eLearning platforms offer limited integration with communication tools. Expectations for next-gen eLearning are likely to include content based on integrated video, audio and multi-media content.

5. Alternate Content

With workforces dispersed across geographical areas, organizations will need to give serious consideration to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) as alternate eLearning options.

6. Open

Content will need to be designed for sharing across public and open forums, as opposed to just intranet or private cloud-based corporate infrastructure.

7. Virtual

When designing eLearning courses, courseware builders will need to leverage more 3D, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (VR) techniques.

8. Peer-To-Peer Learning

While today's eLearning offers a variety of learner-to-learner communication opportunity, next gen eLearning will require greater learner involvement in their eLearning endeavors. Ideally, content and courses will need to be developed to facilitate greater peer-to-peer learning and collaboration, empowering learners with the ability to learn from each other.

9. Customization

Millennial learners will expect greater personalization of their courses than is available today. From widgets and tools, to themes and navigation – next gen eLearning courses will need to offer it all!

10. Multilingual

The coming generation of learners will be more adept at multiple languages than their predecessors. And this means they will expect a lot more eLearning content in various languages that they understand and speak. Therefore, you’ll need to build multi-language support into your courses.

11. Supplemental Learning

Next-gen eLearners are curious about what they learn. That means that while you provide concise and abridged learning, you must also provide supplemental opportunities for your learners (for instance, by offering additional resources in your content).

In addition, as if these weren’t sufficient challenges for next generation eLearning producers to deal with, the next wave of eLearning will be based on rapid development and faster deployment. That’s because technology and social demands will make tomorrow’s learning content obsolete faster than today’s development tools can develop and implement them!

Course developers will have to start embracing SCORM/Tin Can compliant development tools now, so that they can position themselves for tomorrow’s rapid development/deployment cycle.

Getting Ready For Next-Gen eLearning

Instead of waiting until the dust settles and additional clarity is apparent on where next-gen eLearning is headed, instructional designers and eLearning developers should start thinking today about what’s needed to produce next-gen eLearning. The best way to be prepared is to conduct an organizational readiness, comprising of the following steps:

  • Assess where the organization is now in terms of its eLearning capabilities and strengths.
  • Take a full inventory of all existing eLearning assets, including content, infrastructure and talent.
  • Brainstorm, ideally with the help of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), on where the organization needs to be in the next 5 to 10 years, in terms of its eLearning capabilities.
  • Produce a detailed road map of how to prepare the company to reach its goal of next-gen eLearning readiness.
  • Identify all strategic, program-specific, platform centric and infrastructure-related changes needed to support that roadmap. Crucial decisions will need to made about budget allocation, sourcing (in-house, contract, outsourcing) and timelines.
  • Revisit existing corporate eLearning assets (lesson plans, curriculum, video, audio, exercises, tests and assessments) and identify which ones (if any) need to be re-engineered or updated to support the company’s next-gen eLearning roadmap.
  • Design short-term (3 months, 6 months, 1 year etc.) plans to produce appropriate eLearning courses, or update existing content to support the company’s overall next generation eLearning strategy.

It is important to understand that, just as CBT evolved since its early days in 1999, to what it subsequently became; next generation eLearning will continually evolve too. As such, when corporations start preparing themselves to leverage next-gen eLearning, their strategies will need to be dynamic in nature. Roadmaps, Action Plans, Project Plans and Programs will need to adapt with technological and social behavioral changes of eLearners.

If you want to learn about various interactive ways to develop eLearning, get a copy of the Instructional Design For eLearning: Essential Guide To Creating Successful eLearning Courses book where you will find instructional design and eLearning tips, tricks, suggestions, and best practices. This book is also available in Spanish.

In addition, you may be interested in the Instructional Design For eLearning course, which also focuses on creating successful, results-oriented training materials, games, and simulations.