7 eLearning Trends And Predictions For 2021
As the global training industry evolves to blend into the new reality of distance learning, what’s in store for us in 2021? Well, based on what we’ve already seen in 2020, here are some eLearning trends that we are likely to encounter in 2021:
1. More Emphasis On Train-The-Trainer Programs
Corporate workforce capability-building is the cornerstone for global competitiveness. According to renowned management consulting firm McKinsey, as the global pandemic hit, nearly 50% of corporate in-person training in North America came to a halt. Overseas, in Europe and Asia, that figure was almost 100%. One reason that this happened is that corporate training teams weren’t prepared to move quickly, from a primarily Instructor-Led Training (ILT) model to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT).
As 2021 unfolds, organizations will look to address that gap by providing more corporate trainers the skills and knowledge required to deliver training remotely to their staff. Look to companies delivering those train-the-trainer skills, obviously, remotely via eLearning.
2. A Pivot To Microlearning
In 2019, before WFH was a “thing,” one study found that on average employees received 42.1 hours of professional training. Of those hours, virtual classroom/webcasts only accounted for about 15.4% of training hours delivered. With the volume of remote workers on the rise and expected to increase over the foreseeable future, expect corporations to find new ways to offer continuing education and professional development via eLearning.
Because remote workers are busy doing a work-life balancing act, it will likely not be possible for corporate L&D teams to stick with long-format—2 to 3-hour continuous sessions—virtual training. Expect more training to pivot to microlearning, where eLearning content is consumed in 10 to 15-minute segments, typically as video-based or interactive lessons.
3. Mobile Learning Goes Viral
The same 2019 study found that of the 42.1 average training hours, mobile eLearning accounted for only 4.9% (or 2.06 hours). Expect that to change dramatically in 2021. The explosion of 5G and enhancements in communication technologies, including Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), will encourage eLearning content producers to adapt their learning solutions to cater to eLearners on the go.
The prevalence of flexible work hours, something that the WFH phenomenon embodies for most employees, will mean that 2021 is likely to see more employers and employees adopt mobile learning.
4. Trainer-Counselor Gap Narrows
Humans are social creatures. We crave constant and continuous social interaction, or else we fail to perform optimally. The traditional learning delivery model, even in today’s Virtual Learning Environment, defines the trainer’s role as someone that’s tasked with primarily ensuring they deliver all defined learning objectives to their fullest. In 2021, expect that role to evolve.
Because more people in the workforce are learning remotely, cut-off from social and peer groups, corporate trainers will step in to fill the gap of “informal counselors.” This role evolution will not replace a social worker or psychologist’s role, but corporate learners will perform more frequent “touching base” and “sanity check” contacts to ensure learners aren’t feeling socially isolated, which might compromise effective knowledge transfer.
5. Big Data And Adaptive Learning
Classroom-based ILT offers a unique opportunity for instructors and HR staff to meet, interact with, and assess learners up-close and in-person. Such interactions help trainers adapt and personalize training plans to each learner’s unique needs. Unfortunately, when it comes to eLearning, L&D teams lack the opportunity for such interaction.
And now, with the growth of eLearning poised to explode in 2021 and beyond, corporate training leaders will seek alternate methods to assess and understand the impact of their training programs. Expect the use of Big Data to become more prevalent in eLearning in 2021. And, using Big Data, training managers will be able to offer a more personalized and adaptive learning experience to their employees.
6. Expansion Of Training Outsourcing
Our previously referred survey found that, in 2019, average training outsourcing dollars dropped to $378,490, down from $422,321 a year earlier. Given the current economic environment and the fact that more companies are cutting in-house staff count and spending on all fronts—and that will include trainers and corporate L&D staff—expect to see organizations expand training outsourcing in 2021.
Rather than allocate budgets for in-house training content development and delivery staff, companies will likely work with a core set of in-house trainers who manage and direct 3rd-party training resources.
7. Social Learning
To accommodate the new work-life paradigm, companies have already started communicating, interacting, and working with remote teams through online communication and collaboration platforms, such as Zoom, Slack, FaceTime, and MS Teams. In 2021, that collaboration is likely to grow even bigger, spilling into other social media platforms.
Expect learning focus to move, at an even quicker pace than it is today, into social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest. This trend shift will encourage more corporate trainers to embrace podcasts, blogs, online webinars, and video posts as their preferred training resources.
The Trend Is Your Friend—Embrace It!
Whether you are a small to medium enterprise (SME) with less than 50 employees or a large multinational organization with hundreds of staff located in various parts of the world, employee training and development is one of your top competitive factors. You’ll need a continuously trained workforce to implement any of your corporate programs, whether that’s to support keeping the lights on or launching organization-wide transformational change.
These 7 2021 eLearning trends offer organizational training leaders insight into what to expect in the coming months. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time for you to embrace some or all these trends for your business to survive and thrive. The sooner you get on board, the faster you’ll start seeing real results from your training programs.
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