In the ever-evolving world of e-learning, staying at the forefront of emerging elearning trends is essential for organizations and educators alike.
As we head into the last quarter of 2023, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the exciting trends which have arisen over the year and hold the potential to continue to develop and change the e-learning landscape.
10 eLearning Trends For Enhanced Learning
1. AI-Powered Co-Pilots for Course Creation
Description: Broadly, co-pilots in e-learning refer to AI-driven platforms and tools that collaborate with educators and instructional designers to create and improve course content. These AI systems analyse data, recommend enhancements, and streamline the course development process.
The use and development of co-pilot technology has largely been spurred on by developments in LLM (Large Language Model) AI’s such as GPT, and other similar tech. While there have been some tools to get “quick out the gate” over the course of this year, it’s still early days when it comes to finding the optimal mix of functions, and human vs AI generated outputs.
Importance: AI-powered co-pilots can significantly reduce the time and effort required to create high-quality e-learning content. They help ensure that courses are engaging, up-to-date, and tailored to individual learner needs, enhancing the overall learning experience.
2. AI-Powered Co-Pilots for Learners
Description: Learner co-pilots represent the counterpart to co-pilots for creators, presenting intriguing possibilities. They can function as personalized chatbots, acting as AI-driven personal assistants that guide students through their e-learning journey. These co-pilots provide tailored recommendations, track learner progress, offer support, and answer queries, all aimed at enhancing the learning experience. Alternatively, they can work behind the scenes, analysing learner behaviour and making course content adjustments based on individual needs and course objectives.
Importance: While the concept of learner co-pilots is promising, meaningful development in this area is still in its infancy. Challenges related to understanding the technology and its optimal application remain. However, once realized effectively, learner co-pilots may offer targeted resources, content adaptability to individual learning styles, and real-time assistance, ultimately boosting learner engagement and outcomes.
3. AI-Driven Assessments
Description: Again, we come to a trend with a lot of potential provided by AI technology. Assessments supported by AI have the possibility of becoming dynamic systems – imagine individualised assessments that adapt to each learners’ strengths and weaknesses. Assessments which offer immediate feedback, even on written short and long answer style questions.
Further feedback for learners could quickly and accurately provide suggestions for areas and topics to review, which may require more study as wells areas in which learners have a good handle on. Again, this trend is something likely to develop further in the future as edtech’s and researchers gain deeper insight into the reliability and develop better methods for instruction and training the AI systems that power them.
Importance: As assessments get “smarter” there will undoubtably arise the need to re-think and adjust how assessments are done, the purpose they serve, and their connection to overall grading. This however should be viewed as an incredible opportunity to explore and develop new methods and means of assessing learner progress.
This might result in more practical-based assessment, the development of assessment metrics which factor in performance across a variety of assessments and the nature of those assessments (eg. were they tuned to the individual learner?) and how an individual’s results compare with overall trends from a group of learners. While this might sound complicated at first, developing these systems will ultimately provide trainers and educators, not only more personalised insight and assessment data, on learners, but also provide deeper insight into course performance and improvements that can be made to learning materials/presentation.
4. Cohort-Based Learning
Description: Cohort-based learning involves organizing learners into groups progressing through a course together. While not a new concept, it’s experiencing a resurgence in 2023, fueled by the importance of social learning and collaboration in online environments. This method fosters collaboration, peer interaction, and a sense of community among participants, finding the sweet spot between the flexibility of online learning and the support and accountability often associated with traditional face-to-face instruction. Scheduled activities, virtual meet-ups, and smaller, familiar learner groups characterize cohort-based learning’s rising popularity.
Importance: Cohort-based learning drives engagement, facilitates networking, and encourages peer support. It enhances social learning, boosts motivation, and often results in higher course completion rates.
5. AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality)
Description: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are at the forefront of revolutionizing e-learning by offering immersive learning experiences. AR enriches the real world by overlaying digital elements onto it, while VR transports learners into entirely digital environments. Although their widespread adoption has been gradual, the growing interest and investment from tech giants, coupled with increasing accessibility to AR and VR devices, are poised to catapult AR and VR into prominent roles in future learning trends.
AR is making strides by integrating seamlessly into daily work-related activities through AR glasses and headwear. These devices enhance learning experiences by bringing contextual information and guidance directly into the user’s field of view. Imagine technicians receiving real-time instructions overlaid on complex machinery or medical professionals visualizing anatomical structures during surgical procedures. AR’s potential to augment real-world tasks with invaluable knowledge is vast.
On the other hand, VR offers an entirely immersive environment, making it ideal for realistic training and practice scenarios. Learners can step into simulated worlds to gain hands-on experience without real-world consequences. Whether it’s piloting an aircraft, exploring historical landmarks, or practicing public speaking in a virtual auditorium, VR provides a safe and controlled space for learners to develop skills and knowledge.
Importance: The significance of AR and VR technologies lies in their ability to transform engagement. These immersive experiences make learning interactive and unforgettable. They excel in scenarios that demand practical skills, spatial understanding, and sensory immersion. For instance, medical professionals can perform virtual surgeries, pilots can simulate flight emergencies, and history enthusiasts can explore ancient civilizations firsthand. AR and VR not only enhance comprehension but also increase learner retention and confidence.
As these technologies continue to evolve and become more accessible, their impact on e-learning is poised to grow exponentially. Organizations that integrate AR and VR into their training and educational strategies will gain a competitive edge by offering dynamic and engaging learning experiences that resonate with learners and prepare them for real-world challenges.
6. Mobile Optimization
Description: The significance of ensuring e-learning experiences seamlessly function on mobile devices cannot be emphasized enough. Although many Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) and Learning Management Systems (LMS) already offer mobile-responsive designs or dedicated mobile applications, the trend toward mobile e-learning is rapidly gaining momentum. This shift in focus may require a fundamental reevaluation of content formats and types, alongside the development of features and interfaces that harness the unique advantages of mobile computing.
In today’s fast-paced world, where mobile devices have become ubiquitous tools for communication and information access, optimizing e-learning for mobile platforms is not merely an option but a necessity. Learners increasingly rely on their smartphones and tablets for learning opportunities, making it imperative that educational content adapts to their preferences and lifestyles.
Importance: Mobile optimization in e-learning is essential for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, the prevalence of mobile devices, particularly in emerging markets where many individuals rely solely on mobile devices for computing and connectivity, underscores the critical need to ensure that learning materials are accessible and functional on these platforms.
Secondly, mobile optimization enhances the flexibility of e-learning. Learners can access educational content whenever and wherever they choose, aligning with their schedules and preferences. This flexibility fosters a learner-centric approach, ultimately leading to increased engagement and participation.
Furthermore, mobile e-learning accommodates the on-the-go lifestyles of modern learners. Whether commuting, waiting in line, or simply utilizing small pockets of time, mobile-optimized courses empower individuals to make the most of their moments and continue their learning journeys seamlessly.
To remain competitive and responsive to evolving learner expectations, organizations must prioritize mobile optimization as an integral component of their e-learning strategies. This approach ensures that learners have the freedom and convenience to engage with educational content on the devices they prefer, leading to more effective and accessible learning experiences.
7. Well-being and Quality of Life/Work-Life Balance Training
Description: E-learning programs centred around well-being and work-life balance prioritize personal and professional development. They cover a range of topics, including stress management, mental health, and strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Importance: In today’s fast-paced work environments, the well-being of employees is a top priority. These e-learning initiatives support holistic development, addressing not only job-related skills but also personal growth. Investing in employee well-being leads to increased job satisfaction, better retention rates, and enhanced productivity. Organizations that foster a healthy work-life balance create a positive and supportive workplace culture.
8. Skill-Based Framework for Better Learning
Description: Skill-based learning places a strong emphasis on acquiring practical skills and competencies rather than focusing solely on theoretical knowledge. Learners engage in hands-on practice and apply their skills in real-world scenarios.
Importance: Skill-based learning is highly relevant in the context of workforce development. It aligns education with the demands of the job market, ensuring that learners acquire the abilities required for success in their careers. This approach enhances the employability of individuals and equips them with the tools to excel in their chosen fields. Employers benefit from a skilled workforce ready to contribute immediately to the organization’s objectives.
9. Focusing on Digital Skills
Description: The “digital skills” trend highlights the importance of teaching a wide range of digital literacy and competencies. This includes skills related to digital communication, data analysis, and proficiency in various digital tools and technologies. Further, digital skills are excellent candidates for micro-trainings – short courses designed to provide learners the basics of a tool or process. They are simple and quick to create, making them easy targets for easy internal development within organizations.
Importance: In today’s increasingly digital world, organizations need employees who are digitally savvy. E-learning plays a pivotal role in closing the digital skills gap by offering targeted training in these essential competencies. By providing employees with digital skills, organizations empower their workforce to adapt to technological advancements, contribute more effectively to the digital transformation of their industries, and remain competitive in the market.
10. Training a Hybrid Workforce
Description: With the growing prevalence of remote and hybrid work models, training programs are evolving to accommodate geographically dispersed workforces. These training initiatives provide flexible and accessible learning options that cater to employees regardless of their physical location.
Importance: Training a hybrid workforce is crucial for organizations aiming to stay agile and adaptable. E-learning solutions that support remote and hybrid work models ensure that employees receive the necessary training regardless of their geographic location. This flexibility promotes efficiency, enhances employee engagement, and contributes to the overall success of the organization in a rapidly changing work landscape.
As we navigate the ever-evolving world of e-learning in 2023 and beyond, these trends started this year with a splash and the ripples continue to spread out.
No doubt there will be more interest, insight and development of these trends in the coming years as online learning evolves and “upgrades” what’s possible when it comes to the partnership of learning and online environments.