Staying up to date with the latest trends is always important in the digital world and the same applies in the realm of eLearning. In 2020, businesses have had to change their operations and look to new ways to offer training due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
If there’s one positive that has come from this unprecedented time, it’s that eLearning is even more valuable to businesses wanting to deliver training remotely. An encouraging general trend is that the eLearning market is predicted to grow even more in the upcoming years with a projected CAGR of 8% between 2020 to 2026, resulting in a $375 billion global market size at the end of the forecast.
This, however, does not mean that having an eLearning programme is enough. Change is happening within the industry as well and it’s vital to stay on top of this. In this article, we’ll be looking at each of the latest trends that will continue to matter well past 2020 and into the near future.
1. Mobile Apps for eLearning
There are approximately 6.95 billion mobile users across the globe, and that number will only get bigger in the next four years.
Mobile market saturation hasn’t shown to be a problem even with most of the planet now at a standstill with strict travel restrictions remaining in place. Smartphones and tablets are integral to people’s lives as the primary tools to get online, even at home.
Developing mobile apps for eLearning is an obvious strategy, especially now that people have even more time at home dedicated to learning skills. Paired with microlearning, a mobile eLearning app allows learners to study bite-sized lessons at their own convenience.
Keep the following in mind during development:
- Compatibility — Offer learners a seamless learning experience across multiple devices, operating systems, and screen sizes.
- Consistent support — Quickly address any potential issue with troubleshooting, live chat, and software updates.
2. Curation of User-generated Content
There’s no denying the impact of social media on how people interact with content and with each other. People are more inclined to show off their expertise through their unique perspectives, whether it’s through tutorial videos on YouTube or informative Twitter threads.
Such content gets shared across channels with exchanges of ideas, as feelings of authenticity and community build human connections and trust. In fact, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other consumers more than branded content.
This is social learning in the digital age, and it’s gaining traction in more formal environments, as 73% of organisations say they are increasing their focus on social learning strategies. A critical part of this strategy is curating user-generated content. It’s a cost-effective method of keeping learners engaged and your educational material updated.
- Provide platforms — Give your learners platforms where they can create their own content and have discussions about your eLearning courses.
- Curate carefully — Only highlight content that is relevant to your training programme and can resonate with your learners.
3. Gamification for Serious Learning
Gamification is a popular talking point in the eLearning community and for good reason.
When learning is fun and heavily incentivised, people are much more likely to keep engaging with it and even pushing themselves to learn more. It also fuels competition between learners so that they will try to outperform each other, resulting in a workforce that is highly skilled and more productive.
Gamification for serious learning will be the driving approach because of how it’s focused on accomplishing more targeted goals and delivers faster learning on the job. In fact, worldwide revenues for game-based learning products are expected to reach $7.3 billion by 2021.
- Maximise gaming elements — Motivate your learners by incorporating familiar gaming elements like points, leaderboards, and badges. Add a progress bar to let them know how they are improving.
- Apply with other eLearning strategies — Gamification works wonders when paired with microlearning, mobile apps, and immersive technologies.
4. Augmented Reality Training
Augmented reality (AR) is technology that displays digital objects onto the real world. With the help of a device, a user can see and interact with the digital objects. AR has already seen use in industrial sectors like manufacturing. However, it is much more popular on the consumer side, as demonstrated by the Pokemon Go craze and widespread use of camera filters for smartphones apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
For eLearning, AR presents a great opportunity to improve training. Learners can view, interface with, and analyse a digitised version of their subject without having direct access to it. AR also allows real objects to be further studied with digital overlays presenting more information.
To enrich the training experience with AR, the technology should be used to supplement your training programme with its attention-grabbing blend of helpful digital elements, such as 3D models and demos of a product.
5. Virtual Reality Training
The benefits to eLearning that VR brings are plentiful. Learners can pick up a skill much faster when they are doing the actions in a VR simulation than simply reading text or even watching a video that teaches that skill. There is little to no distractions for learners when they are put into a real-time scenario that demands they accomplish their given tasks. Such tasks can be repeated to eventually gain mastery for no added cost.
VR is particularly useful for industries that have workers dealing with hazardous materials or dangerous situations. Workers can be trained for their jobs without risking anyone’s safety even if they make mistakes.
Current work conditions are accelerating the trend toward VR training, as mass in-person training is no longer viable. VR allows training programmes to continue even with staff working remotely.
The technology is proving to be effective as well. Research from the University of Cambridge found that VR training led to 28% more productivity, 55% faster learning learning, and 200% fewer mistakes compared to traditional training methods.
VR training can be maximised with the following practices:
- Performance tracking — VR allows for automatic performance tracking through the software and user behaviour through the hardware. It will be much easier to do learning analytics with the amount of data that can be tracked.
- Immersive gamification — VR is already popular in the gaming sphere for its transportative power that can make for more fun gaming experiences. This can be leveraged in training alongside gamification systems to maintain learner engagement.
6. Interactive Video-based Learning
Internet speeds getting faster and more stable has cemented video’s place as the content type of choice for many. In fact, 66% of people prefer to watch a video to learn more about a product or service than any other type of content.
This comes as no surprise, as video presents a plethora of advantages compared to other media, especially when it comes to learning. Humans are largely visual learners, and videos can directly show how a process works. If someone wants to learn how to perform a task, it’s much easier to watch someone do it and emulate it than to read a solely text-based article.
Where video-based learning is now trending is towards interactivity. Instead of only passively watching videos, learners will be much more engaged when they have greater control over how they consume videos.
Here are a couple of things you can do to make your videos more interactive:
- Add clickable overlays — Include relevant text labels and static pictures that users can click on that lead them to other content or another section of your eLearning courses.
- Integrate bookmarking — For lengthy videos, have descriptive timestamps for specific segments that learners can click on, so that they can go directly to whichever part of the video they want.
Stay Updated on eLearning Beyond 2020
With how rapidly things are changing, it’s important now more than ever to keep abreast of eLearning trends. eLearning is poised for growth thanks to massive labour, social, and technological upheavals brought on by COVID-19, but only the organisations that can capitalise on the changes will be in a better position for when the new normal has stabilised.
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