eLearning Trends Set To Transform Online Learning In 2019
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Online Learning In 2019 And Trends You Should Be Aware Of

We are almost a calendar quarter down for 2019. And with the number of things that are happening on the learning front, looks like this year will pass in a jiffy. Perhaps, now is a good time to take stock of some eLearning trends that were being talked about taking the eLearning world by storm at the beginning of the year. Let’s see which ones sustained the hype and what does that imply for the learning and training domain.

Artificial Intelligence

I am sure this isn’t coming as a surprise to most of you. There is a lot of hype about AI in almost every industry, and the learning industry is no exception. From all that we see around in the learning space, looks like AI holds great promise in this year and beyond. It will be an integral part of the NextGen learning systems that are making a shift towards offering personalized learning experiences. Many AI technologies like analytics, machine learning, natural language processing, and chatbots will actually be visible in action this year. And often times, these technologies will be used in conjunction. It will be interesting to see them coming together and intersecting in many ways. IBM’s Project Debator [1] is a perfect example of using AI to handle increasingly complex arguments.

Rich Learning Analytics

Our quest to tap into data, organize it, analyze it, make sense of it, and perhaps gain some insights from it ensures that rich learning analytics will be worthwhile to dive into this year. In learning, the adoption of xAPI is allowing organizations to capture way more granular data about learning activities. Every-minute learner activity and the outcome are now trackable. And if this data is available, it can be sliced, diced, and presented in many different ways to surface key insights. For instance, aggregating information like which questions are most students answering incorrectly, which modules are learners spending more time on, and whether learners are interested in the depth or breadth of the topic. Where this gets really interesting is that with xAPI we will actually be able to tie learning to performance measurement.

Microlearning

Microlearning or bite-sized learning, whatever you prefer to call it, is definitely here to stay. Be it videos or courses, the trend for everything short, concise, and at the point-of-need, is becoming all-pervasive. This shift to microlearning is due to the overall makeup of our learners, be it in the corporate world or education. Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly becoming our target audience, and they DO NOT have the time, nor the patience to sit through long courses. Another plausible reason for this shift is the gig economy. In a gig economy, there is high turnover; employees have to get trained quickly, sometimes even on-the-job. Again, there is no time for long training sessions. All this implies that the way we deliver learning will change. It will need to be delivered in short bursts whenever and wherever the learners need it. Organizations are also going to continue leveraging legacy learning content by chunking it into microlearning modules.

Video-Based Learning

There was a time in online learning when you were told to use videos cautiously, for various reasons—bandwidth, devices, and cost. With the advancement in technology and devices, these blockers are non-existent. And that’s why we are now seeing a lot of applications of videos in learning. It’s as if the horizon of video-based learning has expanded. Simple traditional training videos and animated videos are here to stay. But in addition, technology is enabling L&D teams to incorporate 360-degree immersive videos, interactive videos, and live sales training videos into their training. There are abundant platforms and tools in the market like Vyond, Exaltive, Reheaersal, and Panopto to enable you to create such advanced video solutions.

Augmented And Virtual Reality

AR and VR have already been acknowledged as effective ways to provide highly immersive learning experiences. But just to distinguish between the two, VR immerses the user in a completely virtual environment, whereas Augmented Reality enhances the real-world objects using digitally produced perceptual overlays. VR requires an additional physical unit (Google cardboard, Oculus Rift) whereas AR can use everyday devices, like a tablet or a smartphone, to produce overlay digital interfaces. With technological advances, both these solutions have become more affordable which is why they will be increasingly used to supplement formal training this year. VR will continue to be used for all types of training; right from onboarding and product training, to compliance training and hazardous situation training. And AR will be increasingly used for product training, customer training, augmentation of retail solutions like catalogs or brochures, and more.

Learning Experience Platforms

It was Josh Bersin [2] who first labeled the NextGen learning systems as Learning Experience Platforms(LXP). As described in some of his original articles, "the LXP market exists because the paradigm of the Learning Management System is out of date. People no longer search course catalogs for 'courses' the way the used to, and we need a way to train and learn 'in the flow of work'." This paradigm shift has paved the way for the focus to move from admin-driven systems to learner-centric systems. It is not to say admin is not an important aspect, but focusing on the learner’s needs and outcomes is of equal if not greater relevance.

Here are some key features that would comprise these NextGen learning systems:

  • A Netflix-like interface that provides recommendations based on user profile, activities, preferences, and goals
  • Multiple content formats including articles, microlearning nuggets, interactive videos, and more
  • Custom learning paths concluding to logical outcomes
  • Informal learning reinforcement features like impromptu quizzes, refresher notes, and reminders
  • Seamless integration with other enterprise systems to tie learning outcomes to overall performance measurement
  • Seamless experience across multiple devices
  • Social media like peer-to-peer engagement

Interactivity

Interactivity is not a new trend by any means, but rather a trend that continues to be at the forefront of eLearning year after year. Being on top of all the above learning trends will still be ineffective if all learning objects miss out on the crucial element of interactivity and engagement. Interactivity continues to evolve and take different forms. Be it interactive videos, Virtual Reality, chatbots, microlearning, or LXP, everything revolves around making learning interactive and thereby engaging for better learning outcomes. Speaking of interactivity, you could look at a tool like Raptivity to develop interactive content rapidly without any programming.

Looks like an exciting rest-of-the-year lies in store for the entire learning fraternity. There might be some trends that did not make it to my list. Perhaps you could share some of those from your experience. I would also be keen to know about your expectations for this year. Share your thoughts through comments below.

References:

[1] 7152: Pushing the Frontiers of AI: Project Debater

[2] Learning Experience Platform (LXP) Market Grows Up: Now Too Big To Ignore (https://joshbersin.com/)

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