In this article, we’re going to focus on what will be in great demand in the year 2021 and beyond for corporate use. We conclude that these are the major trends that will define the eLearning industry in the next 5 years or so.
Converting Instructor-led Training to eLearning
There is a reason why the most effective companies include eLearning methods in their learning and development (L&D) programs. A number of them, actually.
- The fact of the matter is, eLearning is much cheaper than live training due to the lack of many expenses: teacher salaries and related costs (benefits, taxes, etc.), classrooms, and other factors.
- eLearning is much easier to scale than ILT - just have the extra people access the same materials.
- eLearning is head and shoulders above traditional training when it comes to using the cutting-edge instructional design methods.
This is what we did for our customer when building TET - a custom driving theory course. The whole point of the project was to get away from the outdated and inflexible live and DVD-based classes.
As a result, the students got an opportunity to learn whenever and wherever they wanted, achieving better results. And our client got a successful and profitable business.
Elearning Platform For Selling Driving Theory Online Course
For more information on TET, feel free to take a look at our case study.
Gamification is defined as the application of game elements in a non-game activity or environment. For example, giving an app user a badge as a reward for studying 10 days in a row is gamification.
The gamification can include fostering competitive spirit (“The average score for your job position is 67%. Can you beat that?”) or suggesting the most useful content (“PHP developers find chapter 9 the most interesting”).
We have been making gamified software for quite a while now. Take, for example, Ticken - an online touch-typing course. Besides having an innovative teaching method, it uses points and leaderboards to further motivate learners to excel. And when they need to relax after a lesson, there are learning games that are both amusing and effective for knowledge retention.
See the Ticken case study in our portfolio to learn more.
This approach is a subset of gamification and game-based learning that is gaining more traction in recent years. There are studies that show its effectiveness and the top companies are already benefiting from it.
The idea is simple: turn the lessons into chapters of a story. Suddenly your employees aren’t studying sales techniques - they are saving a princess from a dragon by making the right deals with their potential allies. Or simply participate in realistic simulations that make learning more fun and closer to the actual work.
Story-based learning has proven to be useful for teaching sales, soft skills, compliance, and many other things. It requires a relatively high initial investment, but brings great ROI.
What do you need more as a learning manager? Creating functional content and delivering it on a basic learning platform? Or engaging your learners with their training and increasing their learning performance?
Based on sound instructional design, the learning game approach increases engagement (stimulates interest) and boosts motivation to learn the topic.
Learners are engaged in game-based learning significantly longer than in nongame-based learning. Effective serious games form a positive mood to encourage players to continue the play.
A lot of people are visual learners – instead of reading about things, they prefer to see them. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are acknowledged as perfect approaches to provide highly immersive learning experiences for a long time now. Let’s consider the usefulness of all of them from a corporate point of view.
AGCO was one of the first large manufacturers to use AR Glass, a hands-free device, as part of their workers training to get step-by-step instructions. The company has managed to reduce the time needed for inspection, production, and initial training.
Yes, VR has been associated with gaming, but according to a survey by Greenlight VR, the desire for education exceeds the desire for gaming content (63.9% to 61%). Several Fortune 500 companies, such as Boeing, UPS and Walmart, have introduced VR into worker education programs on a wide scale. And some have been happily impressed with the results.
With the help of MR, trainees can interact with surroundings created by a mix of real and virtual worlds. They also can approach and manipulate things leading to a more proper understanding of how things work.
High price and substantial lead time to develop these technologies have been two factors that prevent the evaluation of immersive learning strategies. But with main authoring tool providers like Adobe and Trivantis getting into VR solutions, the price points will eventually drop.
Our latest game-based learning project was Extraas - a powerful platform that teaches Math and Dutch to the high school students. Serious games are at its core, so to use the customer’s budget more efficiently, we even developed a custom game engine. As a result, the platform has already gained thousands of users and raving reviews.
Game-based eLearning Platform For Selling Math Training for Kids
See the Extraas showcase in our portfolio to learn more.
Interactive Video Learning
Video content is a flexible and engaging medium, so its use will only grow in the coming years. Every month there is more video content uploaded to the internet than the three main US TV networks have developed in the past 30 years. Videos can be used as a just-in-time learning aid, part of the online learning curriculum, or as teaching support in a blended learning environment.
Making a video interactive dramatically increases its effectiveness, as well as negates some of its inherent drawbacks (e.g. a user being a passive recipient of the information).
The following kinds of interactivity can be added with popular editing software and authoring tools:
- Branching. A “choose your own adventure”-style materials that allow users to set up their own learning path as they watch a video. For example, they can be shown a common job-related problem and offered to choose one of the ways to address it. After the choice is made, the user will be shown the consequences of their actions. This is a great way to drive engagement, as well as getting the information through to the learner.
- Quizzes. You can automatically pause the video at a specific time, ask questions, redirect the user depending on whether they gave the right answer and even demonstrate their score in real time. You can also set pass/fail criteria, time limits, and more.
- Direct downloads. Let users download other learning materials without navigating away from the video.
- Embedded elements. You can embed almost anything: links, maps, widgets, calendar invitations, images - whatever enhances the learning experience.
The importance of m-learning has been growing for a while now. Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market is positively exploding: various sources project growth from USD 80 billion to USD 280 billion over the next seven years.
It is easy to see why this happens. Firstly, it is flexible and covers nearly all the learning modes out there: virtual instructor-led training (VILT), blended learning, online-only training, just-in-time learning assistance and more. Secondly, it is convenient for the learners themselves, as they are used to the smartphones and are comfortable working with them.
The mobile learning domain encompasses all kinds of training done via a smartphone or a tablet. This includes dedicated m-learning apps. We have previously covered some prominent examples in our blog (e.g. Duolingo).
Performance support tools (PST - learning aids designed to help employees whenever they need assistance) is currently the most popular niche for such applications. They help solve problems that the learners can encounter in their daily work and teach them at the same time. This kind of teaching is much more effective than simple repetition, that is why PSTs are a must-have for any company which cares about L&D.
A mobile app that we have made for our customer’s LMS is an example of this trend. The original system was desktop-based, but the usage of smartphones has increased, so the customer adapted. As a result, he got a flexible and reliable app that kept pretty much all the functions of his LMS but allowed them to be accessed on the go.
See the relevant showcase for details.
Modern learners are short on free time and even shorter on attention spans. That’s why microlearning (delivering educational material in bite-sized chunks) is growing in popularity.
Microlearning content can come in any format (text, video, pictures, etc.) and is relatively cheap to make.
A quick answer that solves a pressing problem is exactly what microlearning is all about.
Sometimes people are just looking for an answer to a specific question, like “How to install a Wordpress plugin?” Or they might be too busy to sit through the whole hour-long lecture.
Bite-sized learning materials that can be quickly accessed whenever they are needed is an important part of the LXP approach.
We have delivered a microlearning app for one of our American customers. It had both mobile and web versions, with phones being a priority platform. The idea was to make a tool that would help qualified professionals get continuing education on the go. It started with courses in law and dentistry and is expected to expand further.
See our showcase to learn more.
Personalization in Learning
According to Towards Maturity think tank, 55% of learners want personalized content and approach. This means that it is the system that should adapt to the individual’s needs, not the other way around.
There are three key components of personalization: pace, instruction, and content.
The first one means that the learner has the ability to study as fast as they need to. For example, if a person finds the content easy, they should be free to complete the lesson quicker or skip it entirely.
The second one means using the right approach. For example, if one person prefers game-based learning, while another is better served by simple videos, both should have the opportunity to study the way they want.
Third one is about what to learn, not how to learn. Even two newly hired people could have different interests and problem areas, so they should be served different content. LXPs are one example of this approach.
Just like Netflix suggests shows based on a user’s individual preferences, an LXP offers courses that would be most beneficial to a specific individual. For example, LinkedIn Learning uses information from the user’s profile and displays classes on the trending topics in their industry, the software this user mentioned, skills they are interested in developing, their current location (with geofencing enabled), and so on.
LXP is a great tool for continuous learning. As such, it doesn’t force users to adhere to the predefined curriculum. Besides just-in-time learning aids, anyone can plan their own development.
There can be a number of possibilities for Artificial Intelligence to improve the eLearning experience. Think of it as your own virtual teacher that assists in your training.
The advantage of AI mentors is that they are available for learners via any device to provide help and the info required round-the-clock. Moreover, a cloud-based LMS can be easily integrated with existing AI-powered robot assistants like Temi to teach users even in their homes. This robotic teacher can move by himself, track surroundings and your movements. Learners can interact vocally with it to get their doubts resolved instead of typing on their laptops or mobile screens.
Right now we are talking not just about an artificial teacher who would talk to students throughout the training, but also can help to choose the most correct paths of learning.
AI can facilitate the creation of highly customized training routes by analyzing the patterns and data it collects from the activities of every learner. The system will be able to provide a more comprehensive course for those with a lack of basic knowledge and skip some modules for more advanced trainees.
Availability and affordability, speed, effectiveness, and personalization are a small part of the benefits expected from the deployment of the AI into the studying process. By analyzing a huge amount of data, AI not only can help make platforms more engaging but also provide businesses with information to make training more effective.
Humans are social animals, so it is unsurprising that they prefer studying in groups. But it doesn’t mean that social learning can’t be done online, as the term incorporates every educational activity that is done by observing and imitating others.
The first aspect of this approach is building a community. When the learners can easily turn to each other for help, it both helps them improve their knowledge and improves camaraderie.
The second is fostering friendly competition. Given enough correct incentives (see the examples of both in our article on gamification) the people will work hard to outdo one another just for the sake of being the best.
Finally, social elements help create a culture of constant self-improvement which helps both the employees and the company’s bottom line.
Only 10% of our learning happens in the formal environment. Now that this has become common knowledge, companies are finding ways to support informal training.
One of the ways to do so is promoting user-generated content (UGC).
Employees have first-hand information on both the problems they face and their solutions, so using this information is as close to teaching-by-doing as it gets in an online environment.
- Just-in-time aids are the main area where UGC thrives. When a person has shown others a way to successfully complete a specific task or an efficient workaround, everyone benefits.
- Personal stories. Not only are they fun and relatable, they are also engaging and useful. These anecdotes can be turned into learning content either by the users themselves, or by your L&D team.
- Incentives. User-generated content is good, but people need some sort of incentive to create it. Having a gamification (simple points and badges) system in place could be enough to have people sharing their wisdom.
An educational social network that we have developed for one of our clients could serve as an example of such an approach. The goal was twofold: to help children learn and train them to spend their allowance rationally. So they have been paid to complete the assignments and could spend the money right there. Of course, there were also communication features like in any other social network.
See the showcase in our portfolio for details.
Soft Skills Training
While teaching people to be better at their job has been around forever, recently the companies have started to put more emphasis on soft skills. Research shows that up to 50% of the work activities can be automated with the existing technology, so to improve their employees’ efficiency it is important to teach them things that the machines can’t do.
Soft skills traditionally include the following:
- And more.
One might think that using eLearning is unfit to improve communication skills, but companies like Deloitte prove otherwise. Here are some suggestions on how to do it:
- KPIs. Soft skills directly translate into business benefits, so they can be measured, at least to a certain extent. Examples of such indicators include less time spent in meetings, decreased employee turnover, increased levels of customer and employee satisfaction, etc.
- Focus. Soft skills learning materials should focus on a single concept, e.g. a short lesson on “Empathizing with the customer” instead of a long one on “Customer support”. This improves knowledge retention and is easier to track.
- Continuous learning. Bite-sized lessons should be integrated in the daily routine of workers so they can use what they’ve learned straight away.
Data Analytics in eLearning
Learner analytics is used to review student behavior and improve training. There are countless tools available for that, from Learning Management Systems with xAPI to intelligent tutoring systems with the eye-tracking feature.
Remarkably, most information for learner analysis is so simple that top-end technologies are not even required. At such a basic level, even a modern LMS can solve most of your L&D woes, as long as it can track and recover the data you need. In most cases, the information you need is as simple as:
- Completion rates of courses;
- Who the most proactive learners are;
- What your learners choose to learn and why;
- Where students are facing difficulties;
- What their strengths and weaknesses are;
- Who is the best fit for a certain task.
For example, JoomlaLMS allows tracking learners’ performance to identify ways to improve your eLearning course. With its reporting functionality, you can define gaps in students' knowledge and skills, determine the organization’s compliance level and overall learners' performance.
From the eLearning point of view “Big Data” is data collected from students’ activities and their performance, but the volume of this data is beyond the ability of traditional databases to capture, manage and process with low latency. So Big Data Analysis helps to structure and present the data in suitable formats.
With Big Data analysis tools you can track the performance of each student to make learning more personalized. Also, big data analysis can provide information on how the training impacts your ROI.
You will know when a student makes mistakes or simply doesn't receive knowledge properly. Then you can make the necessary adjustments to correct common problems. Besides, it can help to choose the most suitable study route for each student.
Research on adaptive eLearning model which stands on Big Data by using competency-based knowledge and social learner activities shows that the analysis transforms training paradigm and provides an effective learning rhythm.
Chatbots in Learning
Belitsoft develops chatbots for eLearning industry. A chatbot is a software that you can “chat with”. Corporate learning departments need chatbots. But how could a chatbot support corporate training strategy? Let's explore some real-life examples.
Chatbots For Bringing New Staff Into an Organization
The chatbot can guide an employee from job acceptance; getting them excited about joining and validating their decision, through the initial on-boarding process where they can learn about processes, team structures and brand values. Nothing beats the feeling a new employee gets when they receive a personal message from the company founder or their manager! Millennials (Generation Z) will make up 50pc of the global workforce by 2020. They like messaging platforms, so companies probably should use chatbots to engage these employees.
Chatbots For Skills Gap Analysis
Employees should have the skills to do their job. Skills gap analysis is the process of evaluating their skills to find out where they currently are and where they should be. The paperwork in doing a skills gap analysis in the traditional way is overwhelming. So they don’t happen as often as they should.
As Sam Hennessy from Filtered (a UK eLearning publisher) noted, “Using a chatbot you could roll out the questions little by little. Then deliver feedback in the form of insight based on the previous batch of questions. This will actually create a positive feedback loop. People will want to give good answers because they are now interested in the results”.
Chatbots For Microlearning
Bite-sized learning (microlearning) is text or video that teaches something in under 5 minutes, like “how to protect a spreadsheet”. It's become popular in corporate learning and can be delivered in the chat interface. Harvard Business Review has created something close to this using a Slack chatbot. Every weekday it picks a random article from a curated pool and sends a summary to you via chat. This is a great example of being proactive.
Chatbots For Getting Feedback
Once someone has taken a course, have the chatbot ask them some quiz questions. Do this over a few weeks. Many people find repetition helps them with learning.
Then look to see if anyone keeps getting the question wrong. If they are then the corporate learning department can step in and give those people a little extra help. You can also get feedback on how good the course was.
Chatbots for Search Needs
Imagine a machine that could access your company wikis or knowledge bases and serve up information in real time, in a context that’s helpful to the employee who needs it—much like the computer on Star Trek’s “Enterprise.”
Because of their deep learning ability, chatbots can be individualized to specific employees and eliminate any data that’s not relevant to them. Rather than sifting through work data in an effort to complete daily tasks, workers can simply ask individual chatbots for the information they require.
In essence, chatbots will make the acts of Googling and searching. Anything you use the internet for you can use a chatbot for—without the hassle of sifting through unnecessary information.
‘Enterprises are increasingly turning to web applications to streamline their processes and make collaboration easier. Still, applications are siloed and unable to communicate with one another. A chatbot could one day render apps obsolete. Chatbots can conduct the same tasks as most applications in one integrated system and tailor the results to the user.’
Daniel Newman, CEO of USA-based Broadsuite Media Group