6 eLearning Trends To Look Out For In 2021

6 eLearning Trends To Look Out For In 2021
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Summary: Wondering about 2021's eLearning trends? Here are the eLearning trends for 2021 compiled under 3 sections: emerging online training areas, learning and design, and learning technology.

eLearning Trends To Train Like a Pro

It’s that time of the year again, where L&D managers get busy studying eLearning trends for those that can make a difference to their existing corporate training. However, this year it’s going to a bit different. With COVID-19 training disruptions [1], organizations need to rethink how they operate, train, and equip employees to combat the challenges posed by market dynamics.

Here are some interesting stats. According to our survey, over 47% of organizations have had a negative impact on their training budgets due to the pandemic, and more than 23% of organizations are trying to completely migrate from face-to-face classroom training to other formats.

In this context, how is your organization planning to upskill and reskill employees in 2021?

To help you plan your training initiatives better, I’ve compiled a list of trends that’ll give you an idea of what’s going to rule the corporate training [2] circuit in 2021. To make it easy, I’ve divided the trends into three sections: emerging online training areas, eLearning and design, and learning technology.

Emerging Online Training Areas

1. Soft Skills Training

There has been a growing demand for soft skills training—more so after the pandemic—across all roles and functions, especially for those leaders who have to manifest high levels of emotional intelligence and empathy to effectively communicate and support their teams.

While in-person training methods—classroom, on-the job, workshops—have been the norm till now, we are now seeing a rising demand for online training methods, courtesy of social distancing.

Here’s how you can use online training methods for soft skills training:

  • Blended learning that includes Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) to replicate the essence of in-person instruction;
  • eLearning for self-paced learning: expanding on what was covered in the VILT sessions. Instructional strategies such as scenarios, simulations, and case studies can be used to increase engagement while giving a taste of real-life problems;
  • Mobile learning for anytime-anywhere access to learning assets, including for performance support;
  • Microlearning nuggets: videos, problem-based exercises, audio podcasts to reinforce and refresh learning to beat the forgetting curve;
  • Social learning elements—discussion forums, activities on social sites, ask an SME—can be used to encourage learners to seek and share information and best practices that they can use in their jobs; and,
  • Personalized learning paths with the help of a new-age LMS (Learning Management System). A Learning Experience Platform (LXP) is even better for adaptive learning.

 2. Customer Education And Training

Conducting in-person training sessions for customers might not be the most feasible or practical option, especially in the present scenario. It’s true that nothing can beat seminars or webinars for customer training. But your customers would likely prefer the convenience of logging onto your organization’s website for information and training rather than traveling for training on-site. This year, online customer education is seeing a new rise.

With online training, customers can study at their own pace and time and from the convenience of their own homes. What are the biggest benefits of online customer training? It can:

  • Cater to millions of customers across the globe from a single LMS. A new-age LMS will let you create cohorts (sub-domains) to provide unique learning experiences. You can also customize the LMS based on your specific products and services and the roles or functions of customers.
  • Offer different types of online learning assets [3], such as presentations, product videos, client testimonials, case studies, podcasts as well as AI and VR-based solutions for a real-life experience.
  • Track and report learning progress and provide in-depth analytics on all aspects of your customer education program.
  • Conduct periodic webinars and virtual seminars to announce updates and get feedback in real time.

Learning And Design

3. Classroom To VILT Migration

According to our survey, 34% of the organizations are considering virtual classrooms while 44% would like a blended approach (digital + virtual) for organizational training. Virtual classrooms offer incomparable convenience and flexibility as against in-person classroom methods. Leveraging virtual classrooms is definitely a fail-safe option in the midst of these unprecedented changes.

However, virtual classroom training is very different than classroom instruction or eLearning. Unlike popular thinking, a virtual classroom is not the same as conducting an ILT session using virtual conferencing tools.

The success of virtual classrooms depends on content and technology, which have to be planned, designed, and delivered carefully.

  • Content
    To create a brand-new VILT program or build on existing content, you will need a facilitator guide, learner handouts, reference material, and "getting started" webinars for hands-on practice.
  • Technology
    Based on the types of collaborative activities required, you can choose from platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect, Vedamo, Skype, Google Classroom, Zoom, etc. 

4. 4 Rs Of Rapid eLearning Conversion

What are some of the pressing problems for organizations? Dynamic markets, changing internal operations, and unprecedented external factors! Engaging, effective employee training at the speed of business is the need of the hour.

Enter the 4 Rs of rapid eLearning conversions!

Whether you want to convert your existing legacy courses to responsive eLearning or create online training assets from scratch, the 4 Rs come in handy for all urgent training needs.

  • Record to save SME time
    Make the most of your Subject Matter Expert’s (SME) limited time. The quick 'n dirty Record strategy reduces SME touchpoints in eLearning design and development to rollout training within timelines.
  • Republish for mobile compatibility
    Convert mobile-incompatible legacy courses developed with obsolete software (Flash) or older versions of an authoring tool with the Republish strategy. This allows you to upgrade to a newer version of an authoring tool, revamp the look and feel of existing courses, and make courses compatible with mobile devices!
  • Rebuild for microlearning
    Rebuild your lengthy eLearning courses or curriculums into microlearning—bite-sized learning assets dealing with one learning objective [4] each—to offer personalized learning experiences.
  • Redesign for blended learning
    Get over the limitations of in-person classroom training—high logistics costs, gathering learners and trainers in one place, etc.—and migrate to online training with the Redesign strategy. 

Learning Technology

5. Learning Experience Platform LXP

Unlike a conventional Learning Management System, an LXP allows you to aggregate the content with a focus on learner experience. It brings together content from different sources, content libraries, intranet, LMS, collaborative platforms (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect), SharePoint Portal, and more.

LXPs can be powered with emerging technologies such as data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) along with their inherent ability to integrate resources from different learning environments.

In a nutshell, LXPs make each learner the architect of their own learning journey, build individual learning paths, and offer truly personalized learning based on past preferences, learning history, skills to be developed, and so on.

6. Immersive Learning Technologies: AR And VR

Unlike conventional learning approaches (where learners merely receive information), immersive learning technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) as well as Mixed Reality (MR) let learners experience what’s taught. Even though these technologies are still evolving, they are already making a mark in online training.

AR is one of the most immersive technologies in online training, delivering a truly immersive learning experience that engages learners.

For example, in the manufacturing industry, employees can stand in front of equipment or machinery with their AR-enabled devices (smartphones or tablets) and see how an app places information of the specific features in 3D. This allows for in-depth exploration in real time with unmatched accuracy.

On the other hand, Virtual Reality includes the use of 360-degree visuals, real interactions, and other interesting elements. These features work together to fill the gaps between theory and practice.

VR immerses learners in an imagined or simulated environment (for instance, video games, flight simulations) by completely shutting out the real world. In a nutshell, VR simulates presence in real life to offer hands-on experience in a risk-free environment.

Adoption of VR is gradually picking up in sectors such as the military, tourism, and healthcare. In addition, sectors such as retail, aviation, construction, automotive, real estate are some of the biggest users of VR. While VR in corporate training is used for offering enhanced eLearning simulations, complex scenario-based training, and high-impact game-based courses to name a few.

Wrapping It Up!

These are just a few of the trends we foresee as the preferred modes of learning in 2021!

Whether learning technology trends or the learning and design trends, these modalities and interventions will continue to impact the way learners learn. While learners will be able to apply their learning to the job better and retain the learning, organizations will be able to offer high-impact training to become more agile and adaptive learning organizations.

References:

[1]Training Disruption due to COVID-19: Rapid eLearning to the Rescue!

[2] 10 Corporate Training Tips to Improve Productivity for Remote Teams

[3] 4 Digital Learning Assets to Jazz Up Online Training

[4] Scripting Effective Learning Objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy

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