Each year—heck, each quarter, really—lists touting the top trends in eLearning and eTraining seem to pop up. And, for the past few years, the best practices seemed to remain the same: Maximize engagement. Provide learner-centered focus. Boost performance. Focus on individual learning styles. Deliver via digital/mobile devices. Embrace gaming and video options—and now, Artificial Intelligence (AI).
We know that true value lies in eLearning modules offering an individualized, learner-centric, experiential focus. The most successful eTraining courses are those designed to actually boost performance at work and incentivize participants to stay in the game. Programs that are rooted in direct, practical, realistic communication practices with learners at every level have a higher success rate, and companies that provide development opportunities as part of their perks packages acquire and retain great talent.
What’s Working in eLearning and eTraining Now—and Why It’s So Exciting
Sift through lists geared to equip instructional designers, and ignite the creativity of content delivery specialists, and two newish concepts emerge: Adaptive learning and design thinking.
Adaptive learning is the concept that fuels innovative tech tools in delivering more personalized learning opportunities. Learning modules—their activities and tasks—can be created to stimulate participants to stay more engaged in the learning process. Algorithms are geared to evolve as learners move through important content and problem-solve to advance through a course or learning module. The ability to adjust and scale a learner’s path and pace provides more interest and enthusiasm in embracing key content, which results in more potential success on the job.
Design thinking is what savvy instructional designers are using to whip up creative, strategic problem-solving tasks within course construction. Those in this role realize that sometimes problems are difficult to define, and that content needs to be delivered in various ways to reach learners. Most designers have previously overlooked these two issues. The design thinking “process” includes taking into consideration how learners actually do things—how they actually learn. This approach often necessitates providing multiple solutions rather than one simple, catchall answer. Such strategic flexibility, especially in online trainings and courses, helps infuse the overall learning experience with more meaning, which ultimately guides further engagement with the content.
As you think about how to best engage your own training program participants, dive into these two core concepts. Adaptive learning and design thinking are not simply hot trends in training development and instructional design, but will prove to be key features of successful eLearning programs, period.