eLearning Trends To Watch Out For In 2021

Technology And Content Trends For 2021
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Summary: This article outlines the technology and content trends that will make an impact on the digital learning space as well as the training space in the coming year. The article also covers how you can take advantage of these trends and enhance your learning strategy in 2021.

Technology And Content Trends For 2021

With COVID-19 taking a grip over the world, organizations across the globe are forced to rethink how they conduct business, train, and equip their employees to meet the challenges posed by the disruption and business dynamics. How are organizations gearing up for the coming year in upskilling and reskilling their employees? We will look at some key trends that will reshape the learning landscape in the coming year and beyond.

The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges that have forced organizations to look for alternative forms of work such as work from home or remote working and bring virtual training to the fore. Earlier, virtual training was used only for the remote workforce or people spread across geographies.

Working from home is the new normal now. Several surveys have shown that working from home has helped people improve their productivity several notches. While the pandemic has forced this disruption, it is essential to understand that this will become a growing trend in the coming years. Organizations see the benefits of working remotely, and in some cases, businesses see work from home as the permanent solution and not a survival strategy.

Let us first look at technology trends to watch out for in 2021.

Technology Trends

1. Artificial Intelligence

Several surveys indicate that Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to grow and will continue to be the number one trend in the technology space for years to come. No wonder, many big names are latching on to it as it will help people get access to content and assistance.

We firmly believe AI is an important trend. It is increasingly being used for automating several mundane or routine tasks that were done by humans just a few years ago, enabling humans to focus on tasks that require higher-order thinking skills. One of the biggest trends has been process-based automation.

In the digital learning space, Artificial Intelligence has a big role to play in 2021 and beyond. It will help personalize learning experiences, interpret the data or the reports generated for the courses taken, and make better recommendations.

2. Learning Analytics

Learning analytics is where Big Data meets traditional quantitative methods in education. Governments, universities, testing organizations, and Massive Open Online Course providers are collecting data about learners and how they learn. However, it has been mostly untapped until the advent of tools, methods, and algorithms that have helped in capturing the real intent of learners.

Learning analytics helps in measuring the key indicators of learner performance and helps learners understand their strengths and areas of improvement, which they can work on. Learning analytics is going to play a major role in 2021 as more learning happens through the digital medium.

3. Personalized Learning

Personalized learning in simple terms means providing learning content and activities based on learner choice as well as performance. To help learners take the learning modules of their choice, learning paths are used along with pre-assessments or recommended learning paths based on previous choices.

We believe personalized learning will continue to be a top trend in 2021 as well. We see it being used in conjunction with Artificial Intelligence, assessment engines, and other tools, becoming a must-have in the armory of L&D teams. It will continue to make waves in the coming years as an essential form of learning.

4. Adaptive Learning

In adaptive learning, personalization of learning happens using algorithms, confidence-based assessments, and competency mapping to the training.

With adaptive learning, employees can have flexible learning schedules. Learners can choose their learning path. Learners can learn from the content at their own pace. Thus, employees perceive this training as an opportunity and not as a task to be completed.

Adaptive learning will ensure that learners get the right knowledge provided in the right dosage and intervals. Adaptive learning will be a prime trend in the year 2021 and beyond.

5. Learning Experience Platforms

Learning experience platforms or LXPs are increasingly used by organizations to provide personalized interactive learning experiences to help employees scale up to the next level. The objective of LXP implementation is to provide learners with a platform where exchanging subject expertise is easy and open. LXPs are increasingly seen as a good alternative to the traditional LMSs that are administrator-driven rather than learner-driven.

LXPs are bound to grow further and add many more learner-friendly features in the years to come.

6. Microlearning Platforms

Microlearning platforms have grown in the last year and will continue to grow as a strong tool for learners to access impactful bite-sized learning. There are several microlearning platforms now that aim to help learners learn subjects quickly and effectively. While some use assessment as their core strategy, others use courses and gamification to make the learning stick. The emphasis has been on performance, and that is helping organizations reap rich rewards.

Tesseract Learning also launched a powerful Microlearning platform, KREDO. KREDO helps organizations create and publish microlearning courses in minutes, roll-out seamlessly, and track the performance of learners with built-in intuitive analytics. KREDO helps organizations utilize the continuous learning paradigm for all types of learning interventions, including pre and post formal virtual classroom or digital learning sessions.

Let’s next look at the learning content trends that will dominate 2021 and beyond.

Learning Content Trends

1. Virtual Classroom Training

Virtual training has been the defining trend of the year and will continue to be a strong trend in the foreseeable future. However, for many organizations going virtual was not an automatic step.

Many were apprehensive at first about its viability and were skeptical of its success. The pandemic induced disruption of working from home and remote working forced organizations to adopt virtual classroom training. However, what they found was that it was working quite well, contrary to their expectations.

There were few caveats though. Training via a virtual medium requires a different approach and skills. The sessions cannot be overly long. Technology needs to work effectively for people in remote locations. Many people are averse to using webcams as they work from home, creating another challenge to address. Virtual training is more flexible as compared to traditional classroom sessions with live interactions, ready-to-use features, polls, and more that give you real-time data. With virtual training, you can administer tests in real time, collect feedback immediately, and conduct sessions for teams spread across geographies.

Virtual classroom training is here to stay and will be one of the top trends for the year 2021 and beyond.

2. Microlearning

Microlearning has been a top trend in the last few years. It will continue to be a part of the learning strategy for every organization, big or small.

"Microlearning mainly focuses on a specific objective, cuts out all the fluff, and supports the primary training or learning journey. Thus, it helps in better understanding and therefore, better retention of the concepts learned [1]." Microlearning can be used as one of the primary modes of training delivery for some learning programs or just before an eLearning or VILT session, or a few days after the formal training as a reinforcement of key learnings to help the learners remember the concepts well.

"Another advantage of microlearning is that it can be created and administered in a variety of formats. The formats include videos, gamification, quizzes, podcasts, activities, and much more [1]." Microlearning will continue to be one of the top learning trends during 2021 and the years to come.

3. Gamification And Game-Based Learning

Gamification is an important strategy that will continue to hold the attention of L&D and experts to provide the right learning.

"Gamification features like unlockable achievements give employees instant feedback whenever they do something positive [2]." You can also assign badges to specific pieces of content, like assessments.  "Gamification gives a sense of advancement to the employees. Employees get to learn something new by feeling in charge of the whole training, resulting in executing the tasks effortlessly, and thereby performing the best at what they know [2]." Gamification will continue to help organizations create engaging, fun, immersive, and memorable learning experiences.

4. Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality has been a popular mode of implementing a variety of training. Whether it is assessing an insurance claim or working in a hazardous environment or learning a high-risk or high-cost skill such as flying an aircraft, Virtual Reality is the training mode to lean on.

Instead of conducting drills, companies can help employees gain exposure to concepts such as emergency response in a hazardous situation, like a fire or flood or a tornado alarm, through a VR based module. Virtual Reality need not be implemented using 3D only. It can be implemented and still be effective with 360-degree photographs or videos. Using an appropriate mix of photographs and/or videos and overlaying them with interactions, VR can be a fun, useful learning experience.

With highly sophisticated tools, the development of VR material is easier and cheaper. Today you can experience VR across platforms. Based on the increased adoption and good business cases, the use of VR will continue to grow in 2021,  and it will grow stronger in the coming years.

5. Catalog Courses

You might be wondering why catalog courses? How can it be a trend? Well, this year the catalog course industry has seen a massive revamp. With more organizations going digital, the demand for catalog courses has gone up. Many new players are vying for the catalog business pie. The primary advantage of catalog courses is that they are on varied subjects and ready to use or deploy without much effort.

This offering will continue to grow, and it gives an option to the learners to learn new skills faster as they are available readily.

6. Continuous Learning Journeys

The continuous learning journey is a relatively new concept wherein there is a tacit understanding that people need to learn continuously to retain the learning imparted during formal training sessions.

It is important to note that people tend to forget or lose the information that they have learned after a few days. Sometimes it may be a few days or a few weeks. This is known as the Forgetting Curve. The curve shows how quickly we forget information over time when there is no attempt to retain it.

For example, microlearning can be used as reinforcement in the continuous learning journey of a learner. A continuous learning journey can be implemented from the time a learner joins an organization to when a new product is launched, when employees need to be updated about changes happening across the organization or any new piece of training. Microlearning platforms, like KREDO, make implementing continuous learning journeys for employees very easy.

Continuous learning journeys are the need of the hour. We have seen an increase in its adoption, and it will continue to grow in the coming years.

7. Video-Based Learning

Video-based learning strategy continues to be one of the preferred methods to communicate crucial messages to employees. They work well in a variety of situations such as raising awareness of organization practices, or when making learners understand crucial aspects of their work.

Video-based learning nuggets can be both self-running and interactive. Increasingly, we are seeing the growth of interactive video-based learning to make a better impact on the learner.

Be it a product launch, or a newly designed process, change management, key messages from the management team, performance support in the moment of need, video-based learning can serve a variety of learning needs.

Video-based learning adoption will continue to rise, considering its continued popularity among learners.

8. Social And Collaborative Learning

Social learning has increasingly gained the attention of organizations as an important form of learning. Social learning as well as collaborative learning have more takers in organizations looking to leverage the strengths of these forms of learning.

Collaborative learning, as the name suggests, is about the collaboration between individuals in the workplace through various modes, such as forums, informal chat sessions, sharing sessions, and learning circles. The social and collaborative learning methods are cost-effective as compared to other forms of learning. Further, social training is effective and efficient thanks to a plethora of platforms and tools that are now enabling this form of learning. The learning is open or transparent and encourages learners to overcome their fears of seeking new knowledge.

Social and collaborative learning is here to stay and will grow by leaps and bounds.

9. Smarter Content Curation

Many organizations are aware that the internet as well as their knowledge bases have a massive repository of content and information. They also know that users would prefer content that is the most relevant to the subject that they want to learn. For this, organizations are adopting content curation. However, content curation must be done in an effective or rather, smart way. Smarter content curation helps find the right learning content for the learners.

Content curation will become more sophisticated and turn into one of the best ways to create high learner engagement.

Conclusion

These are the trends we foresee as preferred modes of learning in the coming year.

Whether they are learning technology trends or the learning content trends, the trends will continue to impact the way learners learn and organizations benefit from these modalities and interventions. While learners will be able to apply their learning to the job better and retain the learning, organizations will save several manhours in training if these tools and methodologies are implemented effectively. These must be utilized by the organizations to make progress in their quest for becoming more agile and adaptive learning organizations.

We would love to hear your thoughts on what other trends will contribute to enhancing the learning space during 2021. This will help us in making a more meaningful contribution to the learning space.

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

References:

[1] How To Improve Training Outcomes With Microlearning Interventions

[2] 5 Key Benefits Of Enterprise Gamification