Six eLearning trends that will empower your remote workforce and drive performance
Estelle Desaint October 20, 2020
Digital transformation is by no means a new trend within the corporate learning space. But in the face of COVID-19, an acute need for virtual learning environments is forcing many companies to take giant digital leaps forward.
Pushing pause on capability building while “riding out the storm” simply does not seem like a viable option for companies who want to sustain growth… or stay afloat. Therefore, many are transitioning to digital learning to improve their workforce upskilling now and in the future.
Globally, a noticeable shift can be seen in corporate investments towards online instead of analog learning methods.1 Besides the ability to sustain operations regardless of conditions, eLearning represents considerable advantages in terms of improving performance and productivity.2 See our 30 key eLearning statistics to learn more.
The companies who are most succesful with their eLearning content are leveraging a number of high-impact trends that help engage and empower their remote workforce. This article gives you an overview of what we believe to be the most influential trends in the digital learning space.
1. Multi-device learning: Driving engagement through convenience
The deep integration of mobile devices into our everyday life means that multi-device learning, and mobile learning in particular, will become a hygiene factor rather than a nice to have in the near future. The attention we give to our mobile devices at all hours of the day represents a unique opportunity to grow the adoption of learning programmes and the internalization of knowledge.
This is true for companies that leverage technology to develop user-friendly learning experiences that employees and stakeholders can engage with anywhere and anytime – from a laptop in the office, to a mobile device during their daily commute, to a tablet at home after putting the kids to bed.
Research shows that the consumption of mobile learning content is growing and that learners like to use different devices at different times of the day to fulfil their needs for information.1
Learning apps can empower employees by giving them access to knowledge in various moments of need where analog learning materials, or even laptops, might not be accessible or convenient. For instance, the needs of remote commercial teams for just-in-time performance support in sales situations.
Creating a mobile-friendly learning platform can be a key factor in accommodating various needs for knowledge and improving performance by making knowledge readily available at all times.
However, it can also empower the organization in the need to spread information broadly. For instance, among a long list of distribution partners when launching new products.
Furthermore, learning apps let companies take advantage of mobile features that drive employee engagement, including push notifications, geolocation, interactivity, gamification and video streaming. If coupled with a self-paced model where learners can complete courses at their own speed, learners are provided with the ultimate flexibility.
2. Microlearning: Reducing friction and increasing knowledge retention
As we are increasingly overloaded with information and our attention span simultaneously shortens, new mobile microformats are gaining traction in various industries, including eLearning.
Microlearning is a bite-sized piece of learning content (typically 3-5 minutes) that addresses a single topic, skill or product delivered through rich media formats such as video streaming, interactive video, audio, quizzes games or a combination.
Research indicates that a lack of time is the biggest barrier to adoption of new knowledge in most companies and that almost half of employees prefer to learn at the point of need.2 Microlearning can reduce time-related friction and deliver digestible information on a needs-basis to increase knowledge retention.
For companies who want to leverage digital technologies to implement knowledge into practice and bridge gaps in skills, microformats that are accessible on multiple devices is a great way to deliver short and targeted learning experiences that can fit into the everyday life of learners – whether it is to aid formal training or daily performance support.
3. Learning analytics: Data-driven content curation and optimization
More and more companies are looking to improve the relevance and timeliness of their learning content to avoid information overload. Similar to how it is used in marketing, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) can enable smart content curation in learning contexts too. Simply put, AI is models that use algorithms to collect and analyze user data.
These technologies can allow companies to present employees and stakeholders with personalized materials that fit their specific learning needs and aspirations. However, this requires that companies begin to collect data about their learners’ needs, goals and preferences as a critical first step.
To assess learning needs, AI can also aid in developing adaptive placement tests that evaluate the current level of knowledge in each learner. As a result, the most suitable learning programme can then be suggested.
In the long run, using data and technology to organize, automate, target and distribute learning content can increase engagement and performance by making learners feel that the learning experience is customized specifically to them.
4. Instructional design: A holistic approach for more memorable experiences
Besides using data to optimize what is presented to different groups of learners, the eLearning industry has increased its focus on optimizing how it is presented to those groups. More and more companies are hiring instructional designers to evaluate and optimize the learning experience in its entirety.
This includes creating user journeys and identifying needs along the learning process for personas or groups, preferably based on behavioural data.
The identified need type and context will then determine what technologies, media formats and communicative approaches are most suitable to realize the learning objectives for each persona/group in that moment of need.
This is highly effective as different learners can have different learning needs and styles. Therefore, viewing learning as an experience that can be purposely designed from the point of view of different types of learners can help companies create better learning content and increase the adoption of it.
5. VUIs, AR, VR and MR: Technologies that support immersive learning
Research shows that people learn and remember better if they are engaged emotionally and in a multi-sensory way. For instance through technology-driven immersive learning environments where they are transformed from passive to active participants.3,4
Several technologies can enable inspiring, fun and memorable learning. For instance, interactive videos where interactive objects are embedded into the video narrative for further navigation and exploration of related topics.
Another technology that has proven to be particularly relevant for learners with dyslexia is Voice User Interfaces (VUIs). It allows learners to use voice commands to interact with a learning platform. Besides the convenience of being hands-free, it lets learners interact without written text.
Taking it one step further, technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) can paint pictures of scenarios or products that are more realistic and enriched than in regular audio-visual formats. These technologies allow learners to interact with a mix of real and virtual worlds and allow for deeper learning.
The technologies above are especially suitable for game-based learning. Game-based learning, popularly known as gamification, is the use of game theory and mechanics to engage learners in solving problems through game-like rewards and achievements.
While some may view gamification as incompatible with corporate learning, it has proven an effective way to trigger motivation and improve long-term memory in cognitive science studies.1
6. Social learning: Cultivating community in a fragmented reality
Social learning is not a new concept. It has long been known that people are predisposed to remember information better through interaction and conversation with others.
The growing demand for interconnected experiences, particularly posed by younger generations, has led many companies to integrate social features and interactive learning tools to strengthen their corporate and stakeholder communities.
Social technologies have the potential to bring people together across locations and timezones, whether it is for formal learning (virtual classrooms, workshops or conferences) or informal learning (collaborative tools or interest-based discussion forums driven by user-generated content).
The key feature of social learning technologies is that they enable learners to engage, interact and connect throughout the learning process. Furthermore, social network features such as user ratings, bookmarking, tagging and comments can help the company measure the quality of their learning content.
How can eLearning benefit your bottom line?
While the eLearning trends above certainly cannot guarantee increased learning and internalization of knowledge, they can improve the quality, relevance, delivery, accessibility and convenience of learning content across different stakeholder groups.
Improving the overall learning experience through digitalization has been linked to increased employee engagement2, knowledge retention5 and organizational performance and revenue.6 It has also been linked to reduced costs due to saved time as well as reduced training and travelling expenses.7
Thus, besides being a necessity in the remote reality we have found ourselves in, adopting eLearning and digital tools can prove to be a gamechanger for improving overall organizational competitiveness.
For more content on eLearning and to find best practice corporate cases, head to our eLearning universe.
- LinkedIn Learning, “2018 Workplace Learning Report”
- Docebo, “eLearning Market Trends and Forecast 2017-2021″
- Krokos et al., 2018, “Virtual Memory Palaces: Immersion Aids Recall”
- The Human Factors Research Group, 2019, “Immersive Virtual Worlds”
- The Research Institute of America, 2017 (in Forbes, 2017)
- Shift Disruptive Learning, 2016, “Facts and Stats That Reveal The Power Of eLearning”
- Brandon Hall Group, 2018 (in Schoox, 2018)