eLearning Trends In 2020 To Look Out For
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Discover The Upcoming eLearning Trends In 2020

In December 2019, I began work on my eBook and this article on eLearning trends in 2020. This is the ninth in a series of articles and eBooks on eLearning trends since 2017.

To distinguish this release from other offerings, I was mulling over the approach I could use to thread various trends, and I came up with the following 3 important aspects:

  1. Look at various trends from the lens of how relevant they are for the learners, the business, and the L&D teams
  2. Evaluate how well they align and meet the expectations of each of these three stakeholders
  3. Assess how they align what we see as the workplace learning for the future

Here is my list of eLearning trends in 2020. I believe all of these will be an integral part of workplace learning in the near future.

eLearning Trends In 2020

Given the large number of trends, I have logically grouped them into 3 sections.

1. eLearning trends in 2020 that will help you achieve high learner engagement, performance gain, and behavioral change

  • Mobile learning
  • Mobile apps for learning
  • Personalized learning
  • Digitization of ILT to blended or fully online learning
  • Performance support tools
  • Informal learning
  • Social learning
  • Self-directed learning

2. eLearning trends featuring learning strategies that deliver high impact and immersive learning experiences

  • Microlearning
  • Gamification
  • Video-based learning (videos and interactive videos)
  • AR/VR and MR or immersive Learning
  • Curation and User-Generated Content

3. eLearning trends that will help you assess the impact and aid you in maximizing ROI

  • Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)
  • Learner analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning

1. eLearning Trends In 2020 That Will Help You Achieve High Learner Engagement, Performance Gain, And Behavioral Change

Mobile Learning

Today, the term eLearning is being replaced by mobile learning as more and more organizations are using this approach as the significant mode for training delivery. Accelerated by what learners ask for as well as the wider adoption of microlearning and most notably video-based learning, this trend continues to be on top.

Loved by learners, businesses, and L&D teams alike, this trend will continue to dominate online training delivery as well as supplement facilitated or Instructor-Led Training (ILT).

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
  • Social or collaborative learning

This is a “must-have” trend and will continue to see accelerated adoption in 2020.

Mobile Apps For Learning

Mobile apps for corporate training provide learners the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime. They can be used to offer both formal as well as informal learning. In fact, they can also be used to digitalize facilitated training or Instructor-Led Training (ILT).

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).

  • As a series of microlearning nuggets, they can be used to offer formal training.
  • Their real impact can be felt when they are used to offer performance support tools to provide the required on-the-job support.
  • Mobile apps can be easily updated and deployed quickly, and you can easily push relevant notifications to learners.
  • You can also personalize the assets for each learner (based on pre-tests or surveys).

With reducing costs and lower development time, mobile apps for learning are worth investing in.

Personalized Learning

This is the next big trend (after mobile learning and microlearning) to invest in. My assessment is that over the next two years, this will emerge as the “new normal” in workplace learning.

  • Learners see value in personalized learning on account of the highly relevant, custom content it offers. This customized journey can be drawn on the basis of their current knowledge, interest, future needs, or simple cues like role/region. It gives them complete control on what they want to learn, how they want to learn, and at the pace that works best for them.
  • It enables L&D teams to align the learners with business goals and upskill or reskill them far more effectively as compared to generic training. It also fosters a culture of continuous and self-directed learning.

You can use personalized learning for employee training needs at various levels:

  • Instant or Just-In-Time learning aids/job aids within the learners’ workflow
  • To practice and hone skills to manage the current job better
  • Specific skills that align with business goals
  • New skills or skills to grow in the organization
  • Leadership skills

Personalized learning is an approach that will impact your ROI positively and is absolutely worth investing in.

Digitization Of ILT To Blended Or Fully Online Learning

With increasing pressure on training budgets or driven by the need to maximize the dollar spend, more and more organizations are undertaking a digital transformation of learning.

A notable part of this exercise is converting the fully facilitated or Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to a fully online mode or blended mode. In this transformation, you can opt for online resources to support ILT or transition to a blended/fully online training delivery:

  • To support core ILT programs these could include pre- and post-workshop resources, and you could also add online assessments.
  • Evaluate the transition from ILT to blended or fully online to:
    • Leverage the best in class solutions from mobile learning, microlearning, and video-based learning.
    • Opt for trending approaches from Virtual Reality to gamification to create immersive learning experiences.
    • Integrate Augmented Reality (AR) based learning assets to support the classroom sessions.
    • Use mobile learning apps to handle the facilitated session.

In 2020, the adoption of this trend will be accelerated.

Performance Support Tools/Just-In-Time Learning Aids

Today’s learners are an impatient lot! Multi-tasking and pressed for time, they do not want to log onto an LMS to locate a course that may have the answer to their need or their challenge.

They want learning resources to be within their workflow (e.g., read on their smartphone) and packaged specifically to help them or address their needs. The performance support tools (PSTs) can address their wide-ranging needs, including:

  • Apply what they have learned
  • Learn more about a given topic
  • Learn new concepts
  • Solve problems
  • Clear a bottleneck or a showstopper

The extensive use of PSTs or instant learning aids and job aids will continue in 2020 to help organizations improve employee performance.

Informal Learning

Most of us are familiar with the 70:20:10 model for Learning and Development:

  1. Experiential learning (70%) that happens on the job
  2. Social or collaborative learning (20%) that happens by learning with or from others
  3. Formal training (10%)

Organizations are realizing the need to shift their training spend, which is being used predominantly for formal training, to a more balanced approach. This is reflected in providing avenues for informal learning.

This trend will accelerate in 2020 and will offer strong support to formal training.

Social Learning

As kids, our key learning is learning with and from others and this continues to be a significant way we continue learning, even when we are working.

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

While determining the impact of social learning is difficult, it does work onn several levels. It helps you create communities of practice, and you can use it as a great lever for change and continuous learning.

This is a must-adopt trend for 2020!

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning (SDL) is a great way to empower learners and provide them with complete control over their learning.

  • 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. It would help you see a more engaged learner pool that is motivated and committed to this model of learning.

I believe this trend will be an important part of workplace learning in the future and is worth investing in.

2. eLearning Trends Featuring Learning Strategies That Deliver High Impact And Immersive Learning Experiences

  • Microlearning
  • Gamification
  • Video-based learning (videos and interactive videos)
  • AR/VR and MR or immersive learning
  • Curation and User-Generated Content

Microlearning

Microlearning has been the most talked-about training approach in the recent past.

As short, focused bites that can be easily consumed on the go, it is certainly learners’ favorite format to learn, explore further, or meet specific, on-the-job needs. It is action-oriented, and each bite helps learners meet a specific outcome.

Its versatility makes it a great choice for L&D teams to use it for:

  1. Formal training
  2. Just-In-Time job aids
  3. Learning aids to recap, reinforce, or challenge the learners to review the primary learning
  4. Support ILT/VILT programs (pre-workshop assets, during workshop assets, and post-workshop connects)

The wider adoption of microlearning does not mark the demise of macrolearning or traditional eLearning. They will continue to co-exist, and microlearning will be used to supplement or complement traditional eLearning. In fact, traditional eLearning courses will leverage the best of microlearning techniques to increase learner engagement.

While it is not the answer to meet all kinds of training mandates, it will continue to lead in 2020 too. This trend is absolutely a “must-have” in your training delivery in 2020.

Gamification For Serious Learning

In spite of the big question mark on the impact of gamification, it continues to be an important learning strategy to engage learners.

Learners are drawn to it as it makes learning fun, and it doesn’t appear to be a chore anymore. It can be used effectively to engage today’s multi-generational workforce.

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 (much the same way any other learning strategy does). Well-crafted gamification for serious learning will help you achieve the following:

  • A high engagement quotient
  • Better completion rates
  • Higher recall and retention
  • Quicker application of acquired learning on the job
  • Proficiency gain (practice and move toward mastery)
  • Influence or trigger behavioral change

You can multiply its impact by combining it with other successful techniques like microlearning and mobile apps for learning as shown here:

  1. Gamified mobile apps for learning
  2. Gamified microlearning
  3. Gamified Virtual Reality (VR)
  4. Gamified interactive videos

Gamification techniques can be applied across all corporate training needs. With reducing costs, shorter time to design and deploy, several use cases and success stories, this trend is worth a serious look if you haven’t looked at it thus far.

Video-Based Learning (Videos And Interactive Videos)

With an acceleration in the adoption of microlearning and reduced 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 degree of engagement through learning interactions and assessments, similar to traditional eLearning courses. Unlike classic videos, interactive videos can be tracked from the LMS.

Videos are a high-impact medium and are a great way to handle your varied corporate trainings. They can be used:

  • To complement or supplement most of the corporate training needs.
  • As a stand-alone learning nugget (job aid) or as a series of microlearning nuggets connected through a narrative or a learning path (for formal training).
  • To support ILT/VILT.
  • To promote informal learning.
  • To step up social or collaborative learning.

Their versatility enables them to be used across the learning and performance improvement mandate:

  • 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.

AR/VR And MR Or Immersive Learning

While there is no debate on the strength of immersive learning strategies, like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR)—for multiple reasons, their usage hasn’t quite matched the hype. Given the higher costs and lack of justification for ROI, there have been relatively fewer takers for these strategies. With easy-to-implement solutions (including players like Adobe and Trivantis as well as niche AR/VR platforms), the cost and the lead time to develop these solutions are going down. There are also several use cases that pair microlearning-based nuggets with AR/VR. With low 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 supplement formal training.

Curation And User-Generated Content

Today, the internet provides access to information in seconds, but we still need to review the maze of data to identify what we really need.

Content curation is emerging as a great way to offset this challenge and offer on-demand, relevant content to the users.

  • It also enables users to find access to information that they can use at the moment of their need.
  • You can curate 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.
  • It offers a recommended learning path that can be further customized by the users.
  • It is a great way to encourage informal learning and, more significantly, self-directed learning in the workplace.
  • It can also facilitate user contribution (User-Generated Content) to keep the knowledge base current and relevant.

With the wider usage of LXP as well as NextGen LMS platforms that use AI and Machine Learning in this effort, this trend is becoming a key part of training delivery. Its ability to offer personalized learning is another reason to adopt it in 2020.

3. eLearning Trends That Will Help You Assess The Impact And Aid You In Maximizing ROI

  • Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)
  • Learner analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning

Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)

The significant values that LXPs offer over traditional LMSs are:

  • They offer a highly personalized learning experience that 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 facilitate User-Generated Content.
  • They feature social learning and offer recognition to active participants. They feature assessments along with badges and certifications.
  • They are fun, engaging, and relevant for learners (and they will help learners meet specific learning outcomes).

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

Learner Analytics To Enhance Learning Experiences

As organizations increase the focus on the impact of training on the learners as well as the gain for the business, learner analytics is a crucial aid in this endeavor.

Learner analytics can provide valuable insights into the learner's behavior to validate what is working and what is not. It can also provide actionable insights to enhance or change the current approach to align better with the goals.

It can also provide cues on what more can be done to:

  • Improve learner motivation
  • Improve learner engagement
  • Facilitate the application of learning

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

This is an investment you must plan for in 2020.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) In Learning

In the previous trend, I had 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 chatbots as a virtual coach for the learners has also begun. This offers a huge value-add 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. I hope my article stands out (from the other similar offerings) by giving you useful insights into each eLearning trend, its value, and how you can leverage it to create higher impact training and maximize your ROI.

On January 21, 2020, I will be releasing an eBook on the same topic and I will share the link to download this soon. Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

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