Many organizations around the world are having their employees work from home as a response to mitigating the coronavirus pandemic. In order to adapt and still provide training, many companies are offering e-learning courses to their employees.
E-learning—receiving education online through an interactive, multimedia platform—is expected to surpass $300 billion dollars as an industry by 2025. The pandemic has given this trend an unexpected early boost.
What are some e-learning trends to watch for in order to be a part of this growing market and help meet the demand for online education? In this blog, we will cover some key e-learning trends for 2020 that will make your e-learning programs ready for 2021 and beyond.
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photo by NordWood
Smartphones, tablets…nearly all of us have at least one smart, handheld device within arm’s reach at all times. The ubiquity of such devices offers easy access to learning programs that have been adapted specifically for mobile platforms like iOS or Android. According to a CNBC report, by 2025 almost three quarters of the world will mainly be using smartphones to access the internet, which is approximately 3.7 billion people!
Therefore, many organizations (corporate, government, non-profits) are developing mobile apps to deliver training to their employees. This allows users to access learning anytime and anywhere and allows them to go through the material at their own pace. Microlearning—learning bite-size, digestible bits of information at a time—is great for mobile learning and gives learners the freedom to access a bit of knowledge that they need right at that moment.
To meet the growing mobile demand, e-learning courses should be easily viewed on different mobile devices (tablet, smartphone, etc…) and mobile operating systems. Mobile learning apps can also incorporate game-like learning strategies–solving problems correctly can lead to a higher score, a progress bar can track the amount of material covered, etc…–to engage the users and make the learning experience fun.
There are many that turn to online communities and social media as a way to stay connected—even more so now that the pandemic has made some feel socially isolated. An e-learning trend that can help facilitate that need while also helping the users learn is social, collaborative learning. Social learning is when students are able to learn with and from their own peers. This could be in the form of a comments section, a forum/messaging platform, or video conferencing app that allows learners to exchange ideas through text or audio/video.
A colleague could record a how-to video and post it on a company’s learning platform to share with others. Her colleagues may then be able to comment or reply to the content, thus offering immediate feedback. When meeting in person is not feasible, a team can set a time to all meet through video chat to collaborate together to achieve an e-learning or project-related goal. Through interactions and the sharing of information, team members can help improve each other’s knowledge level while also fostering a sense of community.
Many organizations are investing in e-learning programs that adopt social and collaborative learning systems that promote continuous learning and build team rapport. E-learning programs like Bridge have peer to peer practice and assessment, large e-learning platforms like Coursera also have peer-reviewed assignments along with discussion forums for students to exchange ideas.
photo by Green Chameleon
Another major e-learning trend is the personalization or customization of one’s learning experience. This is soon becoming more of the norm. One of the main critiques against the traditional classroom or group training environment has been that it is a one-size-fits-all way of teaching individuals with very different learning strengths and goals.
What e-learning has done is allowed learners to craft their own learning experience to meet their own personal and professional needs. That means users curating which courses they want to take and/or which collaborative groups to join, and pacing their education to fit their own learning speed. A learner can also focus on developing specific skills that will make their current position better and/or help them meet their own growth goals in a company.
Through gamification and artificial intelligence, an e-learning program can adapt to better fit the learning style of an individual based on user-provided responses and answers. For instance, if a user keeps getting a particular problem wrong, the program can suggest related knowledge base articles to help the learner in that area and also have the question pop up again until the learner answers correctly.
By interacting with the learner, smart programs are able to adapt and make the content more personalized and engaging. It might sound like science-fiction, but these kinds of algorithms are being used in many industries today including advertising, in which ads based on a user’s search history appear on their web browser.
photo by Frank Romero
As we can see, the above e-learning trends of mobile, social, and personalized learning are powerful trends that have many benefits and are here to stay. Because of the pandemic, many more individuals are becoming aware of e-learning and it’s advantages.
For instance, individuals living with family and/or loved ones that are at-risk due to health concerns can continue learning from the comfort of their own homes without having to go to an office and without any risk of getting sick and infecting their family.
E-learning is here to stay and we hope this blog has helped inform you of the key trends to watch for and implement.
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