September 5, 2017

10 eLearning Trends That Promise to Make 2018 a Powerful Year for Education

There’s no denying the power of eLearning this year. Companies are investing more in learning management systems and educational tools (77 percent of U.S. companies provide online professional development) to produce better-trained employees. And schools and universities are diversifying their resources through online courses and activities. Mobile learning is just as important, with 67 percent of organizations offering mLearning opportunities. Growth and innovation have led to some of the industry’s most exciting trends.

1. The Drivers of Business Performance Board Game

Gamification is an excellent way to get employees engaged with learning. Advantexe Learning Solutions has created an online board game designed to show how business decisions affect a company’s financial standing. Players participate in realistic scenarios and outcomes based on their moves. Artificial intelligence adjusts tactics as learners play. Online learning modules can be embedded to introduce players to key ideas and business terms.

ALSO READ: 4 Chemicals That Activate Happiness, and How to Gamify Them

2. Microlearning Delivers Bite-Sized Content

Microlearning is a big deal in the eLearning world right now. It comes as no surprise as we discover that the human brain performs better with smaller pieces of information that are spaced out.

A study that appeared in Applied Cognitive Psychology in 2009 found that spacing was essential to knowledge retention. Students studied 20 vocabulary flashcards. Some were told to review the cards in smaller stacks while others were told to review all 20. Those who went through the big stack had a longer period between each time they saw the same word. This lead to better results on a test the following day.

Microlearning allows learners to review information in smaller snippets that are spaced out from one lesson to the next. This can lead to better results in the long term, which is important when training an employee to perform a job. Microlearning applies short videos, visuals, exercises, and presentations in 90 to 120 second sessions that are followed by quizzes and instant feedback.

3. Informal Learning Goes Digital

Informal learning is not a new idea. In fact, around 70 percent of professionals obtain knowledge through social and informal settings. Innovative people in the learning and development industry have harnessed the power of this previously untapped training resource by incorporating it into eLearning. By offering native content and collaborative tools, organizations can provide a well-rounded approach that works better for learners. All interactions and ideas can be tracked and recorded for quick access later, making them even more valuable as a reference tool.

4. Real World Training through the Online Platform

If you need a surgeon, then chances are you want to know that your surgeon has experience performing on real, live human beings. Reading books and memorizing facts and instructions isn’t enough. The eLearning industry addresses this problem through real world training. Activities are integrated into systems through task-based simulations. This allows learners to face problems that they will encounter on the job and find solutions so that they enter the workforce prepared. Not only does this produce more competent employees, but it also reduces on-the-job stress.

5. Rediscovering the Webinar

Webinars are another good idea that’s been around for a while. What’s new is how organizations are utilizing them. Rather than building a lengthy semester-long course or one-off refresher, some companies create training boot camps that span multiple days and cover specific topics in-depth.

For example, a webinar boot camp may be used for compliance training or to increase proficiency. They usually go beyond a single-instructor lecture to include guest speakers, online discussions, and games. Live events are still scripted to ensure that the content stays on topic, but the “live” atmosphere and varied activities create a more engaging experience for the learner.

6. Mentoring Takes a Front Seat

Coaching and mentorship programs are making appearances in the eLearning industry. They provide the long-term attention needed to retain employees and meet training goals. Initial training is essential, but mentorship programs allow employees to grow within the company with the guidance of experienced mentors. eLearning provides more opportunities for communication and better tracking when working towards a goal.

7. Augmented Reality is In Demand

The use of augmented reality (AR) is on the rise. It’s cheaper than developing virtual reality programs and can be used on just about any device. Demand is growing for AR-embedded mobile apps in the education industry. Through superimposed images and text, users can learn more about the world around them. The possibilities are endless when applied to a working environment.

8. Social Learning Keeps Getting Better

The social aspect of online learning continues to improve as more developers and educators learn how to better utilize this resource. Ej4’s Thinkzoom LMS campus introduced The Quad this year, which allows learners to build an informal social network of their peers. Features include badges, leaderboards, comments, and the ability to see course activities and exams taken. Learners can break out of assigned groups to see how they compare to the rest of the student body. The Quad is a great example of how social networking can provide motivation and increase engagement.

9. Digital Textbooks for Faster Research and Study

Digital textbooks are another growing trend that continues to improve the student experience. Some organizations offer eLearning tools but still hand out hard copy textbooks. Transitioning to the digital format is not only cost effective but easier for the learner. Searching text is much faster when a link or a quick word search can direct the user to the section they need. It also cuts down on the need for storage space and waste in schools and offices.

eXact Learning Solutions introduced a new authoring feature last September that allows users to create digital textbooks and similar resources through their system. Document Model, or DM, enables users to build professional looking documents with headers, references, paragraphs, and more that can be delivered digitally.

10. Learning with Serious Games

Serious games have been around for years, but only recently became a big player among LMS features. Titles like Second Life are considered serious games because users can do more than just play. They can build businesses and economies. This idea has also been utilized to further human knowledge.

Project Discovery launched in 2015 and used the serious game concept as a mini-game in the popular MMORPG Eve Online. Players could act as citizen scientists by categorizing real astronomical data and genetic samples for astronomers and geneticists at the University of Geneva.

eLearning has been rising in popularity over the past decade. This year and the next promises to continue that trend with new concepts and improved methods. Businesses should consider reevaluating their training approach to take advantage of these developments, which could lead to better quality workers and lower hiring costs.


Shel Gatto is a writer for LMS.org. She has spent years exploring technology-related topics through freelance writing projects. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and beloved canine companions.

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