8 trends in e-learning technology
November 25, 2013 | News & Trends
As we near the end of 2013, e-learning technology is at a crossroads. Corporations and training developers face awesome opportunities to increase the effectiveness of their courses and training programs, but only if they're willing to embrace change.
That's the underlying message of e-learning expert Craig Weiss. A recent visit to his E-Learning 24/7 Blog uncovered eight fascinating trends training managers ought to be aware of:
1. Accelerating use of tablets in learning: Now that tablets have become incredibly popular with consumers, corporations are expected to aggressively adopt them in the next several years. According to a study done by Goldman Sachs and Infinite Research, sales of tablets to enterprises around the world are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 48%. This will enable greater opportunities for "m-learning" - mobile, on-demand learning.
This is an area VISTA Training is already exploring on behalf of one of our clients. The challenge is finding a hardened tablet design that can stand up to temperature extremes, moisture, shock, vibration and dust of the typical work site - and can be operated while trainees are wearing work gloves.
We have a few other technology tricks up our sleeve that we can't tell you about just yet. Watch this blog for details!
2. The rise of apps: As tablets grow in popularity as a tool to deliver in-the-field learning, Weiss is confident that apps will grow as well. Consumers - who are also our workers - have become accustomed to the phenomenon of "there's an app for that." Instead of consuming training via their tablets' web browsers, many of them would prefer an app that offers a richer native learning experience and incorporates interactive features. Watch for a growing number of learning technology providers to release tools that help trainers create and deploy rich, interactive apps in the years ahead.
3. Gamification: Weiss predicts increased growth of gamification in learning - the use of game thinking and game mechanics in training to make it more engaging and relevant. According to one gamification expert, Gabe Zickermann, if employers can find a way to make work feel like a fun game, they can increase their employees' ability to learn by 40%. He also points out that gamification is a valuable way to engage and retain top talent.
4. Evolution from Flash to HTML5: Flash is currently the de facto standard for publishing training programs for online delivery. But as tablets have grown in popularity, developers have been faced with a growing challenge: Apple's popular iPads and iPhones don't support it. HTML5 enables training developers to create rich, interactive environments that rival anything they could design in Flash. It also enables them to publish once and deliver training to any computing platform, including mobile devices. It appears the increasing popularity of tablets as a platform for training delivery will help drive the transition from Flash to HTML5.
5. Video streaming courses: As wi-fi and wireless bandwidth continues to improve, Weiss believes we will see a corresponding growth in the creation of full-length video streaming courses. Like Flash- and HTML5-based interactive training programs, these video training programs will need to be tied in with the LMS that hosts them, so training managers can see who has watched these videos.
6. Digital signatures with audit trails: For those industries like mining, where compliance with regulatory agencies is a must, Weiss believes a growing number of training development platforms will soon support digital signatures. In other words, upon completion of a course, the student will digitally sign it, certifying that they have completed it. These signatures will need to be auditable; if there is an incident, training managers must be able to verify whether or not a worker completed specific training courses.
7. Branching in training programs: As the training industry moves toward adaptive learning, Weiss believes a growing number of authoring platforms for training will support sophisticated types of conditional branching. In other words, based upon a trainee's responses to a specific question in the training program, it will take him or her down different "paths" of learning content.
8. "Mini-bites" of learning: Not all training is focused on teaching a new hire how to perform a task from scratch. Some of it is incremental or remedial in nature. That means a growing demand for short learning programs, packed with just one or two nuggets of knowledge that help workers get a specific task done. Weiss envisions lessons that are five minutes in length at maximum. Formats could include brief videos and one-page documents.
Performance support is one possible use for "mini-bite" training: In the construction and mining industries, an equipment operator could watch a brief video in the cab of his machine prior to performing a task. This would bring the required best-practice knowledge to the top of his mind, increasing the odds that he will perform it at peak efficiency.
What's on the horizon for your training needs?
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