E-learning has been on a meteoric rise for well over a decade. However, the past two years have been crucial in consolidating it as an important branch of learning for schools, organizations, and individuals.
However, this surge in e-learning was not altogether beneficial to all. There were many adjustments to make and not enough time to accommodate them. Solutions were often more along the lines of "the best we can do right now" instead of optimal, and, overall, there has been a lot of stress connected to learning.
It's now time for things to settle down and to put to good use the lessons learned during the pandemic. Here are a few glimpses into what 2022 will look like where e-learning is concerned:
1. Mobile learning
People prefer to access the internet via their smartphones. Almost three-quarters (72.6 percent) of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people.
As a result, companies need to shift their focus toward mobile-first learning and invest in platforms that allow users to connect through their smartphones. There is still much room for developing this trend and creating more accessible learning via mobile devices.
2. Micro learning
This trend has been around for a while, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Learners want information on a need-to-know basis, and they do not have the time and patience to sift through extensive courses to get to it.
They prefer bite-sized units that deliver only the essential information. Often, micro learning is delivered with the help of gamification where the user earns points, moves up on the leaderboard, receives badges, and has an experience similar to a digital quest of knowledge.
3. Adaptive learning
Not to be confused with personalized learning, adaptive learning promises to provide a learning experience tailored to the user based on previous performance and with the main learning goal in mind.
The idea is similar to what GPS does when it chooses a route based on specific driver preferences. Since it's all done online, adaptive learning has the cost advantage over personalized learning, requiring less instructor intervention and more content curation.
4. Big data
Big data is generally growing, and its implications when it comes to e-learning are pretty obvious. In March of 2020, there was an impressive spike in online course enrollments, and this increase in course consumption led to a growth in the instructional design sector.
Big data has become more relevant than ever before, and the future will show consolidation of its position as an essential factor for e-learning. Data makes all learner actions trackable, as instructors can look at all user-generated actions and interactions with a training module. As a result, it’s easy to measure completion and engagement, while pain points and future needs become apparent as well.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hottest subject nowadays — its many applications extend to e-learning as well. Apart from the obvious perks of automating some of the tasks (such as scoring assessments), algorithms based on learners' behavior are highly accurate in connecting learners’ needs to the right content.
AI can also be beneficial to identifying learning gaps as soon as they appear and predicting the most appropriate learning format for each user.
6. Video-based learning
There are several reasons why companies choose to invest in video learning. For one, this instruction strategy is truly engaging and has higher retention rates than others.
Video equipment is readily available and easy to use, while editing tools are accessible, making video learning more cost-effective. And last but not least, video is a perfect match for micro learning.
7. User-generated and social learning
For all its detractors, social media has become an integral part of our lives. Since many adults spend a lot of time on social platforms, it’s no surprise they are used for learning as well. What started simply as a communication tool for educational programs developed into pages and communities dedicated to learning.
Users create and share learning content, have conversations, and pitch in on projects. Since a lot of the workforce prefers to work remotely to some extent, social media learning will become even more relevant.
8. Learning analytics
Learning analytics have become increasingly important over the past few years, and by now, they are essential to the end-to-end learning process. Analytics are central to personalized learning, but they are also crucial for learning reporting both in a corporate environment.
Learning analytics are continually expanding and becoming more refined: identifying gaps, user experience issues, tracking and interpreting learner behavior, and quantifying results.
The global crisis gave e-learning an unprecedented boost as it had to catch up with growing and urgent demands. With its wide accessibility and usability, it shows trends connected to both the latest technology and complex learner demands.