6 E-Learning Trends to look out for in 2021

The pandemic has thrown the world into a tailspin, forcing organizations everywhere to rethink the ways in which they run operations, carry out marketing and sales, and deliver products and services. To combat with the evolving scenario, employees must be equipped to face the challenges of the new normal and for this, targeted employee training is critical.

And the statistics speak for themselves. While training is now absolutely essential for survival in the post-Covid world,  a survey indicates that over 47% of organizations have had their training budgets impacted in a  negative way due to the pandemic. Also with distance learning now being the preferred route, over 23% of organizations are trying to migrate from face-to-face classroom training to a remote learning model.

How is your organization planning to conduct employee training in 2021, and how can you plan your training initiatives in a better way?

This list of trends will give you an idea of the critical factors in the corporate training circuit in 2021. Let’s discuss these factors under three sections:  emerging online training, eLearning and design, and learning technologies and platforms.

Emerging Online Training Areas

1. Soft Skills Training

The pandemic has increased the demand for soft skills training across all levels and roles. Leaders must have the emotional intelligence and maturity to empathize with their employees who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the new ways of working. Remote working models require new ways of communication and teams must support each other through the crisis.            

In this scenario, online training is much in demand due to the need for social distancing.

Online learning can take the following forms:

  • Blended learning that includes Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT);
  • eLearning for self-paced learning: using simulations and case studies to reinforce the understanding of concepts learned;
  • Mobile learning for anytime-anywhere access to learning resources;
  • Microlearning through nuggets of time-boxed learning sprints;
  • Assessments and  problem-based exercises to enhance retention;
  • Social learning through online discussion forums where students share their learning with their peers and are able to clarify doubts from an SME; and,
  • Customized learning paths on a LMS (Learning Management System) or Learning Experience Platform (LXP).
 2. Customer Education And Training

Especially in the current situation, customers who need training for information on any services or products will not be able to attend an in-person session. This has resulted in a rise in online customer education, with customers preferring the convenience of being able to get the information they seek from a website.

Online training allows customers to study at their own pace and at their own preferred time, without stepping out of their own homes. Online customer training also comes with a host of other benefits.

  • A single LMS can take care of millions of customers across the globe by creating cohorts (sub-domains) to provide unique learning experiences.
  • Various online learning assets can be used, including product presentations, How-to videos, client testimonials, case studies, and so on.
  • Reports of the learning progress and in-depth analytics on all aspects of the customer education program are readily available.
  • Regular webinars and virtual seminars can be used as a medium to announce updates and get feedback.

Learning And Design

3. Classroom To VILT Migration

Research shows that approximately 34% of the organizations are looking at deploying virtual classrooms, while 44% would like a blended approach that combines both digital and virtual experiences. When compared to traditional brick and mortar classrooms, virtual classrooms offer incomparable convenience and flexibility. There is no doubt that leveraging virtual classrooms is definitely the way to go in the future.

For virtual classrooms to achieve their objective, content and technology must be carefully planned, designed, and delivered.

  • Content
    Any VILT program needs a facilitator guide, reference material, learner handouts, presentations, and webinars for hands-on practice.
  • Technology
    Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect, Vedamo, Skype, Google Classroom, Zoom, and so on use new-age technologies for collaboration and interactive learning.
4. Rapid eLearning Conversion

Today’s markets are dynamic, and organizations should be able to adapt to changing internal operations and external factors over which they have no control. Employee training that helps them to stay on top of the advancements in the industry is of utmost importance.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to convert your existing learning assets to responsive eLearning or create an online training course from scratch, keep these tips in mind.

  • Make recordings to save SME time
    Your SME’s time is very valuable, and most SMEs charge by the hour. Create quick recordings to roll out training sessions in the shortest possible time. These recordings can be used over and over again, saving you time and money.
  • Optimize for mobile compatibility
    Older courses that have been developed using obsolete software (Flash) or older versions should be republished, using software that will make it mobile compatible.
  • Rebuild for microlearning
    Voluminous, lengthy eLearning courses or curriculums should be compacted into microlearning—short snippets of bite-sized learning assets, that deal with just one learning objective each. By learning only what is actually relevant, the learning retention is higher.
  • Redesign for blended learning
    Blended learning overcomes the limitations of in-person classroom training, by doing away with high logistics costs, travel to the classroom, coordination efforts and so on.

Learning Technology

5. Learning Experience Platform LXP

A Learning Experience Platform (LXP), unlike a conventional Learning Management System, brings the focus on learner experience. Content from different sources is consolidated and integrated for optimal user experiences. An LXP is backed up with new-age technologies such as data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) helping the learner to get the benefits of experiential learning. Individual learning paths are carved out based on the learner’s skills and previous knowledge.

6. Immersive Learning Technologies: AR And VR

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality put learners in the driver’s seat, allowing them to experience what is taught. Virtual Reality uses 360-degree visuals, real-time interactions, and other innovative features to fill the gaps between theory and practice. Users can shut out the real world and immerse themselves in a simulated environment, allowing them to get hands-on experience in a risk-free environment. For instance, a medical student can learn the nuances of IV Cannulation through a VR tutorial.

AR is an immersive technology that allows the learner to experience what it feels like to perform a surgery, for instance, or drive a plane. An employee in the manufacturing industry can stand in front of a piece of equipment with their AR-enabled devices (these can be smartphones or tablets) and see how the app gives information about its various features in 3D. While these technologies are still very new, they have already made a mark in the online learning space.

To Summarize…

While these are the emerging trends that are getting noticed, there are many more innovative technologies to come. Learners will be better equipped to apply their learning to the job better and retain the concepts learned, while organizations will be able to offer the right training to upskill and reskill their employees.

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