We have been living under the dark cloud of the pandemic for several months now. While there are many unanswered questions and uncertainty at several levels, one thing is certain that the pandemic has redefined the workplace dynamics. From temporary work-from-home measures, we are now witnessing the “new normal” of remote operations across the globe.
As L&D teams look ahead to 2021, the following focus areas emerge:
- Improve remote learning experiences by leveraging immersive virtual training techniques rather than just addressing the mandate of remote training.
- Create room for continuous, remote learning rather than offering discrete trainings.
- Leverage frameworks that promote formal, informal, social Learning, as well as performance improvement rather than limiting the training budgets to only formal training.
- Provide nudges to create habits of learning rather than delivering training and ending it with the validation of user registrations.
- Adopt techniques to protect the training investment by offsetting the Forgetting Curve and replacing it with the Retention Curve.
- Focus on the learner; align trainings to what remote learners seek:
- They should have the flexibility to “pull” content rather than the mandated “push.”
- The content should be appealing, support multiple devices (mobile-ready), and be relevant and preferably personalized.
- The learning journeys must be highly specific to their needs and, in fact, align with their career pathways.
- The content should not be limited to just formal training. Instead, learning aids/job aids must be available on-demand, preferably in the workflow so that learners have access precisely at the moment of their need.
- Offer a holistic suite of trainings, needed for remote learners
From trainings that support mental health well-being to building resilience, the pandemic triggered a brand new list of trainings to manage remote employees. Supporting leadership skills over a distance and sustaining productivity levels were other areas that got added. Of course, the standard trainings continue but are aligned to business goals (even at a distance).
- Provide multi-pronged training and learning aids (70-20-10 model)
The training strategy must be multi-pronged and not limited to offering discrete formal trainings alone. There must be provision for social/collaborative and experiential learning.
- Create the value chain between learning and performance gain
The training assets must be aligned to help learners accomplish learning, practice, application, and result in a tangible performance improvement.
- Adopt strategies that address the spectrum of modes and align with remote learner expectations of:
- Leverage microlearning and other immersive learning strategies that can deliver value from a distance.
- Identify approaches to evaluate training effectiveness and impact.
With this background, here’s my list of eLearning Trends in 2021. These trends will help you firm up your plans for 2021 as you rechart the training delivery to meet the mandate of the new normal of the workplace for an effective virtual training transformation.
What Are The eLearning Trends In 2021?
Given the large number of trends, I have grouped eLearning trends into 5 sections by emphasizing their relevance in the altered workplace dynamics.
Section 1: In The Spotlight—“Must-Have” Trends To Offer Remote Learning
- Mobile learning
- Mobile apps for learning
- Virtual training—conversion of ILT to blended or fully online learning
- eLearning accessibility considerations
Section 2: Trends That Equip Remote Users To Learn Quickly, Apply The Learning Effectively, And Get Access To Relevant Content And Just-in-time Learning Aids—In The Flow Of Work
- Personalized learning
- Performance Support Tools (PSTs)/job aids
Section 3: Trends That Foster Continuous Learning
- Informal learning
- Curation and User-Generated Content
- Social learning
- Self-directed learning
Section 4: Trends That Help You Deliver Engaging, High-Impact, And Immersive Virtual Learning Experiences For Remote Learners
- Scenario-based learning and interactive story-based learning
- Video-based learning (videos and interactive videos)
- AR/VR and MR or Immersive learning
- NextGen learning strategies
Section 5: Trends That Help You Ascertain The Impact Of Remote Training And Help You Maximize The ROI
- Learner analytics
- Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning
Let’s see what exactly is going to happen in each of these sections.
Section 1: In The Spotlight—“Must-Have” Trends To Offer Remote Learning
eLearning Trends In 2021: Mobile Learning
With the altered workplace dynamics, training delivery must indeed accommodate remote learners, and mobile learning is the right approach to do it. Accelerated by what learners are looking for today, this trend remains at the top. This trend will be the main mode for online training delivery as well as complement facilitated or Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT). You can leverage it to meet the entire spectrum of your training needs, including formal training, informal learning, instant/just-in-time learning aids, self-directed learning, and social or collaborative learning.
This is a “must-have” trend and will continue to see accelerated adoption in 2021.
eLearning Trends In 2021: Mobile Apps For Learning
Closely related to mobile learning, mobile apps for learning offer the flexibility to learn anywhere and at any time. Their influence can be felt when they are used for instant or Just-In-Time learning aids/Performance Support Tools to provide the required on-the-job assistance. They can be seamlessly updated and deployed promptly, and you can easily promote relevant notifications to the learners. Furthermore, you can personalize the assets for every learner (based on surveys or pre-tests).
They can be instrumental in offering formal and informal learning. Both microlearning and gamification techniques can be effectively used to provide gamified learning, starring a series of microlearning nuggets. These can be effortlessly personalized (centered on the learner’s role, region, interest, or proficiency).
With the ability to personalize and offer learning journeys from a distance, mobile apps for learning are an “absolute must to invest in” in 2021.
eLearning Trends In 2021: Virtual Training—Conversion Of ILT To Blended Or Fully Online Learning
With remote operations and constraints of social distancing, even in 2021, classroom or ILT trainings will not be feasible, and converting these trainings to a virtual mode continues to be a priority for L&D teams.
A significant part of this conversion exercise is to identify how to transform the fully facilitated or Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to a Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), a blended mode, or a fully online mode. Looking at the time frame for conversion and budget, you can choose from Rapid development to semi-custom or high-end fully custom designs.
This transformation involves change management on many levels, selecting the right platform for delivery, managing expectations of the remote learners, and upskilling the trainers to adapt to the new medium. Do plan for this bit to sustain the momentum.
With value-adds that include the flexibility to learn in a remote environment, the ability to rapidly scale, the facility of personalization, and recognition of multi-generational workforce support, this trend is definitely a “must-have” in 2021.
eLearning Trends In 2021: eLearning Accessibility Considerations
With increased flexibility for employees to work remotely (from home), I anticipate a more inclusive workforce in the years to come. This would create a need to offer online training that can also address special needs. This is where designing online courses that conform to eLearning accessibility guidelines comes in.
There are high chances that each training group may include at least one learner with a special need of some form. eLearning accessibility ensures that everyone experiences training in a positive and engaging way. Accessible eLearning highlights the importance of attracting, upskilling, and retaining talent in your organization and demonstrates care for all employees.
In digital learning, accessible content is designed and developed in a way that allows people with special needs to find, understand, and navigate learning elements with ease. It puts the learner in control of their learning process while opening up a wider plethora of possibilities. Several authoring tools (notably,