5 eLearning Trends to Expect in 2018
Jennifer Fitzpatrick
/ Categories: Learning Services

5 eLearning Trends to Expect in 2018


It’s that time of year when we reflect on what worked (and what didn’t) in 2017. Part of that process is to look to the future of our industry – to think about what 2018 will look like in the world of eLearning. For that reason, we have put together a list of eLearning trends we believe will have the biggest impact in 2018.

What’s interesting about many of these trends is that they have been around (in some form) for a long time. Although some of our trends were once outliers in the eLearning community, they have become major players because of what we know about effective workplace learning. 

With that in mind, here are 5 eLearning trends we will see in 2018.

1. Gamification

Gamification (using game-like elements in workplace learning) has been a buzzword in the eLearning industry for a number of years, but widespread acceptance of the positive results it produces has solidified its role in workplace learning. Gaming taps into our natural curiosity and desire to complete challenges which is why 80% of learners say they are more productive when their learning or job is game-like.

How it works

Gamification in workplace training is simply turning real-world scenarios into games. This is great for compliance-based courses as well as a host of other (sometimes boring!) procedural courses such as sales and product training. For dense, complicated subject matter, games can add an element of fun, so learners invest in their training rather than see it as an obligation.

Gamified learning often includes a dashboard that maps out your course and displays your progress. Learners are usually encouraged to achieve goals, collect tokens or badges, and advance through various levels to complete their challenge.

Why it works

Games are fun. But as it turns out, they also tap into an aspect of learning that encourages total engagement. Because learners become immersed in the challenges they face, they forget they are actually learning. This aspect of games increases learning retention by immersing learners in realistic scenarios.

Gamification also gives the learner control over their learning journey. No-one likes to be forced through the stages of dull training material, but when those stages are mapped out with goals, badges, rewards, and points, learners feel more in charge of their own fate. Because our brains like step by step information, these maps then become powerful retention tools, helping the brain consume new material in manageable chunks.

Finally, at the end of it all, learners feel a sense of accomplishment from having navigated a challenge from start to finish. Learners develop a healthy sense of competition with themselves, which leads to higher rates of self-efficacy. This can even seep into other aspects of their workplace performance, boosting productivity, morale, and job satisfaction. 

2. Social Learning

By 2020, millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce. For that reason, workplace learning has had to adapt to cater to a multigenerational workforce. You could have baby boomers, representatives of Generation X, and Millennials all working together on the same team – so you need to know how to meet their diverse training needs. Because 88% of Millennials prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one, organizations will invest in social learning platforms that can lead to significant cultural shifts.

How it works

Businesses establish a culture whereby employees learn from each other, often through learning technologies like blogs, discussion forums, and video content. These tools enable knowledge to be spread quickly and efficiently throughout an organization. With something as simple (and ubiquitous) as a smart-phone, employees can record best practices, interesting insights, and helpful tips, then share them with the team or company in a matter of minutes.

Why it works

Social learning encourages productive communities of like-minded peers and puts learning back in the hands of the learner. Because knowledge is spread in real time and is often the result of practical situations, employees are likely to be more engaged and retain more information. Knowledge can spread by any number of means, whether it be a video tutorial uploaded to a blog or a simple water-cooler conversation that leads to something new.

Social learning can help establish a culture of productivity and continuous training because employees can easily apply information that is spread in this fashion. Human beings are naturally social, and an environment that fosters collaboration can also boost morale and job satisfaction.

3. Personalized Learning

Each learner is unique, with different roles, levels of experience, work environments, and knowledge. For this reason, organizations are recognizing the importance of supporting the career development of their employees, particularly in response to the “skills gap” debate of recent years.

Earlier this year we wrote about this skills gap, which is the perceived difference between the skills needed by employers and the skills current job seekers/employees have. More employers are upgrading their training programs by opting for a role-based, personalized approach to workplace training.

How it works

First, it is important to establish the skills employees will need for success. The best way to do this is by establishing a competency framework (more on competency based learning here) that becomes a template for personalized content development. You assign levels from beginner through to mastery for each competency established in the framework, and then the learner works to complete tasks that demonstrate mastery of a particular skill or competency. This template can be adjusted over time as roles or core competencies evolve.

Why it works

Personalized learning empowers to take control of their professional goals which can lead to improved performance in the workplace. Because learners have access to relevant, practical training, their role-specific skillset increases dramatically.

Personalized learning also boosts morale because employees feel valued and appreciated. Happy employees are less likely to seek work elsewhere, so reduced employee turnover is another happy consequence of a personalized approach to learning in the workplace. 

4. Micro and Modular Learning

94% of L&D professionals report that their learners prefer short, modular content. E-learning expert Josh Bersin’s famous infographic reveals eye-opening statistics including that learners “won’t watch videos longer than 4 minutes” and have only “1% of a typical work week to focus on training and development”. For this reason, lengthy 30-90 minute training sessions simply don’t align to what we know about the modern learner.

Micro, or modular, learning solves this problem by providing responsive content available on multiple devices. Learners can then consume training in increasingly small pockets of time throughout their day whenever it suits them.

How it works

Modular content is short 2-4 minute videos that are supported by additional material as needed by the learner. Learning assets come in different formats, for example short videos, micro-content, simulations or interactive learning experiences. This flexible training material can be assembled in different ways depending on the role-based needs of your employees.

Why it works

Modular learning provides flexible learning paths that respond to the practical needs of learners. Because this kind of content can be delivered through multiple channels, learners get what they need when they need it.

Modular learning assets can be easily updated, which can significantly reduce the cost of training. It also ensures that learning content is always up to date, which is particularly important in the fast-shifting business landscape where release cycles are shortened and roles and responsibilities continually evolve.

5. Demonstrating ROI for Learning Programs

Business leaders want to see the direct impact of programs and services on their business – and rightly so! However, training initiatives are not always designed with measurement in mind, so it has always been difficult to measure return on investment.

Program objectives are often poorly aligned with business goals, making it difficult to measure meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs). For this reason, suitable measurement techniques often fall by the wayside, making the assessment of the effectiveness of programs impossible.

How it works

The availability of powerful data management tools makes it possible to build measures of success into your learning program design from inception. These tools are then used to continually assess the business impact of your learning programs and service offerings.

They track and monitor KPIs such as program engagement and completion rates as well as end-user performance and adoption rates. These tools make it possible for teams to continually measure a wide variety of metrics to assess production, program effectiveness, and user satisfaction.

Why it works

Ultimately, all business decisions will require an understanding of ROI. With the right tools, you can better understand how your programs are performing which areas need improvement. Data analytics will give you better business intelligence on employee skills and help you target future training investments more effectively.

Looking to the new year

These are just a few trends to watch for in 2018. eLearning remains education’s fastest growing market, and we look forward to seeing that continue in the new year.

Get in touch for more information on how SureSkills can put these training trends to work for your organization.

Happy new year. 


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