As e-learning continues to evolve, it is more important than ever for organisations to ensure their L&D solutions remain firmly focused on delivering business value. As business leaders now have a greater understanding of how employees learn, the time has come for business leaders to capitalise on the latest trends and emerging technologies to gain a competitive edge. With this in mind, Rob Caul predicts the latest technology trends which are set to hit the workplace in 2015.
Published in TrainingZone magazine, February 2015
One of the greatest things about e-learning is its constant evolution. As more organisations embrace emerging technologies with a stronger understanding of how people learn, the next few years could prove to be a golden era for e-learning. Ambient Insight predicts global e-learning revenues will reach a healthy $51.5 billion by 2016.
So what will e-learning’s focus be over the next few years? And which hotly-debated concepts and technologies can we expect to see more of in the workplace?
The next chapter of e-learning is all about capitalising on new technologies to deliver greater business value. To this end, L&D professionals will be more focused on enabling learning at the point of need with content that is more relevant, rewarding and engaging than ever.
The transition from e-learning to mobile learning will continue to be a key challenge and opportunity for the learning function in 2015 with the rise of Generation Y and Z in the workplace and as tablets increasingly become the preferred choice for e-learning. eMarketer forecasts that over one billion people will be using tablets this year, despite a slowdown in growth and increasing competition from smartphones, phablets and wearables.
Although mobile learning has made great strides forward in recent years, there is still a significant way to go to keep pace with the evolution of today’s flexible, mobile workplace and learners’ needs. Towards Maturity’s Benchmark Study 2014 shows that while 45% of organisations support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and 30% have a clear policy in place, BYOD is a double-edged sword with the wide variation in learners’ personal technologies the second biggest barrier (59%) to mobile learning.
Responsive design and HTML5
After nearly 10 years of development, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recently ratified HTML5 as a formal standard. This will lead to the further consumerisation of learning and will open the floodgates for truly mobile learning. HTML5 and responsive design will continue to increase in popularity this year, enabling organisations to move beyond the single screen and for learners to access learning content at their point of need, on the device of their choice.
The rapid rise of technologies in the workplace makes it hard to avoid information overload. That’s why it’s essential for content developers to remember that short-term memory capacity is limited and information must be prioritised. Content chunking – breaking up content into shorter, bite-size pieces that are easier to digest and remember – will no doubt become an even more important strategy for creating ‘less is more’ brain-friendly e-learning.
The next few years will also see eXperience API (aka Tin Can API) continuing its journey to become the way learning systems and all types of content talk to each other. A major attraction is its ability to capture meaningful information relating to a wide range of learning experiences and behaviours while overcoming many of the shortfalls of SCORM. Ultimately, it will help to create more personalised learning environments - essential in today’s diverse, multi-generational workplace.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding gamification in recent years. Whether 2015 becomes the year in which gamification in e-learning truly takes off remains to be seen. However, gaming techniques that improve engagement by immersing the learner in a challenging and motivating environment where success is rewarded is one of the fastest growing segments of the e-learning industry. According to IBIS Capital, the world market for serious gaming and gamification will grow from $2bn in 2012 to $7.4bn this year. For gamification to prove its worth, organisations need to have clearly defined goals as well as a realistic outlook on the opportunities and limitations gamification poses.
Decreasing video production costs combined with increasing bandwidth will continue to accelerate the use of short video clips embedded within e-learning courses. Video can be a very powerful tool for getting information across quickly and effectively, for showcasing best practice by immersing the learner in real-life scenarios, replacing role play activities used in traditional learning, and for engaging with multi-generational teams who actively use YouTube to source information. It’s also a great tool for storytelling and for creating an emotional connection and lasting impression with learners. Bersin research shows that video can halve learning times compared with classroom or text-only methods.
The blended future
E-learning solutions will continue to evolve to reflect the fact that learning is more interactive, social and collaborative than ever. The rapid rise of technologies will play an increasingly pivotal role in enabling employees to learn continuously on-demand, empowering them to initiate and seize learning opportunities at their time of need while harnessing shared knowledge and expertise. E-learning will continue to deliver the greatest value as part of a blended approach, reflecting that learning is a continuous journey, rather than a one-off intervention.
E-learning has come a long way since the millennium and there are plenty of great examples of organisations creating immersive e-learning that is enabling behavioural change. Those with clear objectives, a good understanding of learners’ needs, and the knowledge and expertise to capitalise on emerging technologies stand to gain the greatest dividends from e-learning as the future unfolds.