What are the trends in e-learning?

If you search the internet for information about trends in e-learning, you’ll generally find the same general topics and techniques being promoted year after year, often wildly promising to revolutionise the way that your team learns. 

The truth about e-learning is that there are no easy routes to success – there is no single magic bullet that will transform your employees into stellar learners or experts in their field.  Instead, there are a whole range of different tools and techniques that in combination can drive impressive changes and deliver high quality outcomes.  A true learning and development platform provides support to allow firms to find the balance of tools that works best with their learners.

Let’s consider just four of the regular entries in the list of trends from the last few years.

The concept of content curation is very similar to curation of, for example, an art exhibition.  The curator works around a central theme and chooses elements to help explain the theme (whether these are web pages, learning modules, activities, or even artworks is irrelevant), presenting them in a coherent format for learners.  This might be as a library of resources that learners can dip in to as required or may follow a more formal structure such as a learning pathway. 

The benefit of this approach is that learners can be assured that content has undergone some form of quality assurance and can be confident that the information presented is accurate and reliable.  For curators and training teams, it means that the range of resources available to learners can be extended quickly and cost-effectively without having to develop large volumes of material in-house.  However, it also brings a responsibility to regularly review content to ensure that it is still available (if included as links) and is still relevant and accurate.

There are many opportunities for training teams to curate content on the Development Zone using the custom content catalogue and the tools associated with it.

Gamification, or taking aspects of computer games and applying them to training content can seem a little frivolous and is often met with negative responses from managers.  However, incorporating key elements such as rewards and status points to reflect successful mastery of topics can be a simple and effective way of boosting learner engagement and celebrating success within organisations. 

Gamification can also be extended into specific topics, for example, by presenting learners with complex scenarios and encouraging them to make appropriate decisions to resolve situations.  As with many approaches, using elements of gamification judiciously can help engage learners without trivialising the learning process or the topics being delivered.

You can find examples of gamification across the Development Zone, such as the Open Badges displayed on your Achievement Wall for completing topics, the DevZone points awarded for mastery of topics in the DevZone Academy, or the interactive scenarios in the main content catalogue.

Blended learning has been a popular theme for several years and reflects the desire to retain some form of direct interaction with learners alongside self-contained e-Learning.  Traditionally, it has referred to a mixture of in person and online activities, although it is now more widely being used to reflect a mixture of “live” and pre-prepared learning, with the live element incorporating learning across multiple locations using video conferencing tools rather than events in a single physical location.

The Development Zone supports both styles of blended learning, with support for managing offline events (i.e. face to face meetings), and for assessing the outcome of offline tasks (by submitting a document of evidence for review/feedback), as well as providing video conferencing or webinar facilities to enable remote interaction directly via the platform.  All of these features can be found within the Custom Content Catalogue and are available to all subscribers.

Learner analytics provide an insight into the behaviour of learners both individually and as a group, and help organisations judge the effectiveness of their training and refine the  approaches and content used.  They ensure that the organisation as a whole gets the best possible return on investment.

The Development Zone recognises that accessible insights are essential to supporting training and development teams and demonstrating the value of the platform to managers.  There are a range of analytics available to firms, from the topic level statistics available for assessments, to regular customisable and schedulable reports such as the firm overview report, or the high-level analysis presented in the Insight report.  This capability is constantly changing and developing to meet the changing needs of the firms using the platform, with recent innovations such as the customisable dashboard reports providing more flexibility than ever before.

About the author

After gaining a degree in Computer Science, Tim spent nine years teaching in a number of secondary schools (11-19 year olds) in Wales.  For the majority of his time teaching, Tim led a highly successful team of teachers delivering vocational ICT qualifications and reached the level of Associate Assistant Headteacher before leaving teaching.  He has also been a senior examiner and moderator for one of the UK's largest awarding bodies.  Since 2013 he has been the senior developer for the Development Zone.

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