E-Learning Trends to watch for

18th December 2014

Like so many things these days, e-learning is constantly evolving. So, as we approach the end of another productive year, it’s now time to take a look into the future and consider what 2015 might bring us in terms of e-learning.

Digital learning is undoubtedly here to stay. It’s been around so long now that we can no longer even consider it to be a new concept. It’s a massive, booming industry to say the least. Indeed, Global Industry Analysts estimate that the market value for e-learning will reach a whopping $107 billion in 2015, which is simply incredible.

So, where is all this money going? Well, some of the trends that you will see listed below have been around for a while. So, although they’re not necessarily a new trend for e-learning, they are nonetheless still as vitally important to the industry as any of the latest innovations that we’re likely to see. Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. M-Learning (Mobile Learning)

We’ve discussed e-learning going mobile in more than one post this month; it’s a trend that’s been steadily on the increase since around 2008, and is only going to grow faster and larger as we head into the future.

Smartphones are ever on the rise, and so too is the amount of businesses that no longer find themselves confined to a single office space. As the payroll becomes mobile, so does the need for training, and M-learning is stepping into this space.

The figures speak for themselves in this regard. Ambient Insight, a market research firm, predicted in their 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market Report that the 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the m-learning market to be 18.2%, which equates to an estimated global revenue of $12.2 billion by 2017.

Almost everybody in the developed world now carries a smartphone with them at all times, and this level of market penetration indicates just how indispensable mobile devices are in this day and age, and the need to adapt courseware for mobile learning for all L&D professionals as we head into 2015.

2. Big Data

It’s always been the case that learning and development professionals, as well as learning and performance managers, have had to prove the worth of their learning strategies to stakeholders. The numbers these days, however, have become so big that traditional means of processing the information is no longer possible.

Big data will start to play a larger role in analysing the ROI of learning and development courses as more and more companies will be forced to track e-learning effectiveness in order to provide proof to finance departments that it’ s still something that’ s worth investing in.

As well as being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of e-learning, big data will also enable L&D professionals to personalise learning content much more effectively, as well as being able to test the effectiveness of various learning strategies.

3. Personalisation

Following on from point number 2, concerning how big data will enable greater personalisation of e-learning material for participants, in 2015 we will see more and more courseware being developed where the learning content, questions and feedback will be tailored to the learner’ s interests, personal motivators and proficiency level.

Personalisation in e-learning means that methods of pedagogy, as well as learning environments and the curriculum itself are adjusted to meet the needs and aspirations of the individual learner. Adjusting the pace of instructions, the learning approach, the preferred form of content presentation (i.e. text, audio or video), all of this and more will be taken into greater consideration moving forward.

4. Augmented Reality

Technical advances have seen a surge in augmented reality (AR) applications the world over, and the time has finally arrived where such technology can be meaningfully integrated into e-learning across the board. The ability of AR to overlay the real surroundings of a learner with virtual images means that an interactive, virtual or rather augmented world can be created to simulate real working situations, problems or even disasters without ever putting the learner or the company in any real danger.

There’s no doubt either that AR is engaging, fun and entertaining, and it is finally becoming affordable. Products such as the Oculus Rift, for instance, or Google’ s Cardboard could very well mean that 2015 is set to be a landmark year for augmented reality e-learning.

5. Gamification

The gamification of e-learning has of course been around for some years now, but it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact, growth in the use of game mechanics is poised to skyrocket once more in the upcoming years. In the Ambient Insight 2013-2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market Report, it was estimated that in North America alone the revenue for game-based mobile learning products will be $410.27 million by 2018.

The whole world is now very much in the digital age, and, as such, the expectations of digital age students, who want to be entertained and have content delivered in attention-grabbing and engaging ways, are fuelling the growth of gamified learning modules the world over.

6. Wearable Tech

As wearable technology continues to grow in popularity, it seems that one e-learning trend that we should all keep an eye out for is the smartwatch. Although such a small screen isn’ t necessarily suitable to all types of mobile learning, the capabilities of such devices are such that they could very easily be utilised for in-the-moment or on-the-job performance improvement notifications.

If we look at how the smartwatch is being used in the sports industry to give athletes coaching and reminders to go faster or be more active, then we can begin to see how similar things might be implemented to alert workers when they are not performing a task correctly or safely. The sophisticated motion sensor technologies accelerometers, compasses, gyroscopes, pressure-sensors and so on can be used to recognise specific activities, and so 2015 might very well prove to be a landmark year for e-learning and the smartwatch.

7. Learning As A Lifestyle

The way we all think about learning is set to continue its radical shift even more as we enter 2015. The learning and development sector as a whole will be continuing to look for new ways for their learners to connect with one another through social, creative and informal means with the goal of transforming learning into a lifestyle, rather than a mandatory, compartmentalised, sporadic activity.

8. Corporate MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been, up until recently, the reserve of top universities. However, over the last few years, MOOCs have been enjoying a surge in popularity with large corporations and organisations particularly in what have been dubbed Corporate Universities. This was one of the biggest trends of 2014 and is set to continue into 2015.

We’ ll continue to see corporations using MOOCs for employee training, future employee training, and in the sharing of knowledge and skills between large companies. MOOCS are great in that they can be used for internal training of very large numbers of employees who may very well be scattered throughout the world. What’ s more, applicants for future positions will be able to learn the skills required of a future job even before interview, thus cutting down on training time once the position is assigned.

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