In conversations with others in our community, through the work we do, and our own exploration and professional development, we’ve compiled the following list of learning and development trends that we feel have the most relevance for 2018 and beyond.
- Video and Interactive Video
Video is the new kid on the block that everyone wants to be friends with, despite not being that new. New technology has made it easier and quicker to produce videos, and many are figuring out how to answer the technical roadblocks like bandwidth and streaming. We’ve definitely seen an increase in all forms of video for learning and believe that will continue.
In our recent work with clients, we’ve been asked to develop shorter bursts of learning, especially eLearning. We’ve observed that learners expect shorter content and want to consume learning in this manner. More so than in previous years, however, we’ve seen our profession struggling with the definition of micro-learning, especially given that it implies there’s macro-learning too. Perhaps the best definition we’ve found is by Josh Bersin, in this article (see point 3). We’ll continue to follow this trend and the research on this topic in the coming year.
Using game-like principles and designing them into learning in order to increase learner engagement continues to be a trend. We’ve observed simple game designs gain popularity with both the clients we work with and the learners who consume the content (e.g., responding to questions about scenarios and being scored on those responses). We’ve also noticed a trend for more complex gamification using AR/VR simulations.
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
We see companies investing in AR and VR applications for tasks where it’s safer to learn virtually rather than in real life, such as airplane repair, surgery, etc. AR is also a very effective option for “in the field” performance support like equipment repair. As the technology and tools for creating these experiences expand, we anticipate seeing more and more development of learning and performance support applications that use them as part of, if not the whole, solution.
- Artificial Intelligence
Harnessing the power of AI for learning is just in its infancy, however, it is definitely worth watching and building an understanding of. Two forms of this that we’re seeing developed and used include providing performance support based on a learner’s actions and chat-bot responses to questions. These approaches use data analysis, inquiry, and behavior prediction as part of the design process.
We see that the change to 508 Compliance rules will continue to push learning and development to determine ways to make eLearning more accessible to a variety of audiences. In a very real and practical way, we’ve noticed that Google has integrated accessibility into their usability design practices.
- Learning curation and social learning
There appears to be a natural pairing between learning curation and social learning; we’ve observed this ourselves in our own use of Yammer. We often post articles and short learning content that is of interest to others, #tag those posts with relevant key concepts, @mention them to those in our company so they are noticed, and generally watch the comment thread for key observations and comments. We see this trend expanding in organizations, where savvy training professionals find valuable information and then pass it to appropriate audiences. With the increasing rise of “free” and “included” content libraries, such as Lynda.com, YouTube, Coursera, Udemy, and others, we see content curation skills for learning professionals becoming increasingly necessary in order to stay in touch with how learners are finding and using information.
- Learning department disruption
With the expansion of information available to learners through multiple and varied avenues, we’re seeing an increasing trend toward the disruption of not only traditional digital learning platforms and ecosystems, but also the disruption of whole learning departments. When content is no longer relevant, can’t quickly adapt or change, or doesn’t meet learner expectations, the relevancy of the training department is questioned. Shifting L&D’s mindset from delivering training to an employee to developing an employee’s capability helps shift the learning ecosystem in a manner which provides value to both employees and the organization. The rise in organizations insisting on leader-led training and content authored by subject matter experts are two trends we’ve observed as contributing to this type of learning department disruption.
Given these trends, here’s a few things we are wondering. Will a backlash on microlearning happen because learners just don’t feel prepared and competent for the job at hand? Will learners miss and/or request more classroom and other in-person learning over eLearning and/or video learning? What are your thoughts on these questions or on the overall list of trends we’ve discussed here?