E-Learning Trends and Developments

When it comes to searching for new and engaging methods for managing learning and development, the same general topics tend to crop up year after year, with only the occasional break-through that manages to push the boundaries of conventional methods. Whilst there is no magic solution that will transform learners into experts in their roles overnight, there are a variety of techniques that can help trainers and trainees get to where they need to be.

The key to a successful learning plan is one that balances a variety of different tools and methods, which can then be tailored to the individual in a way that also compliments their learning styles and pace.

Below are some of the most popular trends and developments to keep an eye on for this year.

  1. Micro-Learning

Whilst it is a concept that has been around for some time, (some of us might be familiar with or remember sites like BBC Bitesize for GCSE and A-Level revision, for example) it is becoming increasingly popular in recent years for its adaptability to suit busy work schedules, producing higher completion rates as a result.

Essentially, micro-learning involves information being broken down into smaller, ‘bite-sized’ segments and presented in a step-by-step framework. This is extremely useful for more complex subjects, improving knowledge retention by allowing the learner more time to focus on each section until they are confident to move on to the next step. 

A key development within this trend is the use of interactive videos and animation, which introduce another type of learning into this popular format, allowing users to engage in scenarios and try out what they’ve learned.

A key benefit with micro-learning is that it allows for learning on-the-go: having to access training anywhere, anytime, and across a multitude of devices.

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality

This one has been slow to reach a wide audience due to its reliance on headsets or top-of-the-range hardware, but it is a trend that should by no means be ignored. Imagine being able to assess a car for a motor insurance claim in a virtual 3D space or walking around a commercial property to assess its security measures without ever leaving your own office.

There are endless possibilities to the kinds of training that VR and AR have to offer, but it does come with its drawbacks as mentioned above. The technology is still in its experimental stages, and would need to rely on specialists to develop the software and provide the training, particularly for more obscure or niche subjects. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this trend develops over the next few years.

  1. Learning together

As human beings we have an innate tendency for social interaction, and one of the common problems people face with e-learning is that it feels like they are entirely on their own. Social Learning aims to resolve that issue, and many content-driven platforms are subsequently increasing their own social learning functions.

This may be through the use of social media style communication, encouraging users to share their activity and combine knowledge, or through collaborative tools that allows the creation of user generated content, resulting in relevant and focussed learning materials.

Virtual group seminars are another outcome of this trend, which makes use of poll tools and chat rooms to engage learners and allow further discussions on the training provided. 

  1. Gamification

Interactive scenarios, mini-games or quizzes allow users to feel more included in the learning experience by taking an active role in the subject they are trying to learn. Reward schemes and leader boards can also promote friendly competition within firms and make learning more of a social event. These interactions can also be combined with VR and AR technology to further enhance the learning experience.  

We discussed the positives and pitfalls of gamified learning in a previous article, which can be found here. Moderation is needed with this style of training; trainers need to find a balance so that their learners are able to retain knowledge from these games and not come away remembering only the game itself.

  1. Data Analytics and Smart Curation

For years data collection has been happening online on a daily basis. It’s not entirely new within e-learning however, it is only now starting to be used in a truly meaningful way to enhance the learning journey.

This would involve the collection of user data which the AI would use to analyse habits, learning methods and patterns, and combined with effective curation and cataloguing of e-learning content, could then recommend the most relevant content, formats and pace for a truly adaptive learning experience.

A training plan that changes based on user learning and constantly evolves to development needs would provide employees with a truly flexible learning schedule and employers with maximum return on investment.

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To see examples of some of these methods listed, the Aviva Development Zone contains a combination of tools to deliver, track and manage learning. If you’re not already signed up to the system, see what e-learning can do for your firm and visit: https://www.mydevelopment.zone for a free 14-day trial of the Aviva Development Zone.

About the author

Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight. 

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