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6 learning trends that are here to stay in 2018

This is a guest post by Samantha Harris from Learning Nexus.

This time last year, Learning Nexus wrote a blog on trends that would shape 2017. Some of those trends included the increase in the use of video in e-learning and microlearning. Did these predictions come true? In some ways, yes. We read several learning reports which stated the benefits of microlearning. This led to an increase in organisations seeking shorter, bitesize learning to keep employees engaged. Many of these trends are continuing into 2018 and beyond, but we’re also predicting some additions for the new year.

1. Long-term learning

It’s shame to say it, but the common perception of e-learning is that it’s a quick 30-minute exercise that can be done at the end of the day to keep HR and your manager happy. This perception, however, is (thankfully) changing. Organisations, and employees, are starting to realise that e-learning can be a powerful tool to achieve long-term learning goals.

Whether you’re trying to achieve a set of competencies as part of your personal development plan or trying to learn a new personal skill such as a language, e-learning will become part of your long-term learning plan. Why? E-learning in 2018 will become much more adaptive due to the advances in learning management systems, such as Totara Learn. These improvements allow managers to set learning pathways to ensure your e-learning plan is personal to you and your goals. 

2. Virtual reality and augmented reality

Last year, we wrote a blog about our concerns with virtual reality (VR) becoming a realistic L&D strategy. This was due to the lack of acknowledgement to the costs behind VR, despite the huge hype and excitement.

Despite our concerns, VR and augmented reality (AR) have continued as trends throughout 2017 and into 2018. Why? In part this is due to the fun and interest it injects into e-learning, but also the opportunities they provide.

One of the biggest drivers to explore VR in 2018 is the opportunity to replicate scenarios that are otherwise difficult to facilitate in real life. For example, you may want to educate your staff about dangerous scenarios, such as safety on an oil rig. While it could be extremely expensive and time-consuming to send out any new starters to an actual oil rig, replicating the environment with 360° video and VR in e-learning provides an authentic and immersive alternative.

3. Gamification

Gamification didn’t appear on our 2017 trends blog, but that was because it was everywhere in the e-learning industry. After witnessing the increase in gamification projects and LMS features introduced to support the trend, we are confident that gamification will continue to be huge throughout 2018 and beyond.

In short, people love to play a game. Putting dry, typically uninspiring content into a game will gain better engagement with staff, which in turn, should help your organisation stick to the GDPR. What’s more, the features available with Totara Learn, such as leaderboards and badges, help to support the gamified format to further motivate learners.

4. Self-directed learning and evaluation

We are used to automatic evaluation through assessments or quizzes at the end of e-learning content. However, many organisations are turning towards the trend of self-directed learning and self-evaluation via e-learning in 2018.

What does this mean exactly? Most employees in the workplace are up to scratch with technology and feel comfortable finding learning available to them. If you provide various e-learning options on your LMS, the workforce can set their own learning goals and create their own learning schedules. This is called self-directed learning – finding your own learning, planning out your goals and (hopefully) sticking to them and achieving them.

Self-evaluation is the second half of the 'self' journey. This is where you encourage employees to regularly and honestly evaluate the outcomes of their learning. Totara has recently enhanced its 360° feedback LMS tool to help support this trend with e-learning in 2018. This useful tool provides the option for assigned users to complete a 360° feedback form to evaluate their own performance, strengths and weaknesses. 

5. Soft compliance

Recently there has been a strong increase in demand for softer learning topics in e-learning. Courses such as fire safety and evacuation and the Data Protection Act are usually considered as 'hard compliance' topics and are almost always mandatory courses for many customers. While these are still important and relevant topics, we’ve seen an increase in the need for courses covering areas such as management styles and improving customer service.

We’ve coined the term 'soft compliance' for this emerging trend. It links to the idea that all learning topics are part of compliance. This is because, if they are important to your organisation and to your workforce, then they are required and should therefore be part of organisational compliance. We are true believers in this theory and makes up a huge part of the NexusComply solution, of which Totara Learn is the chosen LMS foundation. Expect more titles to come out in the softer compliance areas and for them to become part of your learning plans. 

6. User-generated content

More often referred to as UGC, user-generated content is simply defined as content created by users and made accessible to peers. More specifically for e-learning in 2018, a Towards Maturity report showed that customers seek to share more content in organisations. This could be fuelled by content authoring tools which allow employees to amend learning content to suit their needs or social elements such as blogs and forums.  These social learning tools offered by learning management systems like Totara Learn, or dedicated enterprise social networks like Totara Social, mean that we can take advantage of the mass of content available from outlets such as YouTube, TED talks and webinars. 

Have you spotted any other upcoming trends for 2018 that we should be talking about? Let us know in the comments.

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Learning Nexus

Learning Nexus, an eLearning provider with over 25 years' experience and offices in London and Gloucester, offers a host of eLearning training solutions throughout the UK and overseas.  
The company offers a wide range of eLearning products and services including off the shelf courses, tailored bespoke solutions, an innovative authoring tool, a choice of state-of-the-art content delivery platforms, hosting, comprehensive support as well as implementation and training.

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