The Future of eLearning
In the past, it was common for work-based training to take place in a classroom setting. Following the global pandemic however, many organisations had to adjust to a new learning environment where groups of people had to be avoided.
Although businesses were forced to operate outside of their comfort zone, the adaptations made to training during the pandemic soon started to shape the future of online learning and many leaders have now adapted to the pace of change in today’s dynamic world of work.
Online learning solutions have enabled organisations to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and multi-generational workforce. By 2026, the global eLearning market is forecast to reach almost $400 billion. In 2019, the global eLearning market was sized at nearly $200 billion, whilst the learning management system market generated around $18 billion*.
As more and more employees and businesses reap the benefits of online learning, the future of training will be shaped by interactive courses that teach skills which can’t be automated, such as emotional intelligence, creativity and improved decision-making.
Visual learning allows for increased productivity and can be easily shared
Although training new employees remotely can be difficult, video-based courses enable trainees to retain information effectively. Although there will most likely still be a requirement for one-to-one training, research has shown that visual learning is 83% more effective than using text alone and that it can improve knowledge by up to 400%.**
Sharing video content is easier than ever before with platforms such as Vimeo, social media and training software, so it’s accessible by employees, regardless of location. Video course content can also be created quickly in a reactive manner to what is happening externally to an organisation’s industry.
Course variety is key
Many businesses will already understand that every person learns differently, and it can take time to fine-tune a training plan to ensure that it is balanced for all. The ways of distributing course content have progressed over the past couple of years and the variety of material on offer continues to evolve, which in turn will ensure that learners are kept interested so that the learning gain increases.
Melissa Canter, Senior Partnership Officer at Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, told us that:
“Professionals continue to seek flexible CPD opportunities in this hybrid learning environment, so there is a real need for virtual course content to be interactive and diverse, as well as being a bite-sized offering to keep engagement high.
“There is still a demand for live face-to-face courses, so it’s become key to assess which method of delivery is most appropriate for each specific course; eLearning, live webinar or in-person, and then that course authors or presenters apply a variety of teaching tools to deliver high quality sessions for learners.”
As eLearning content develops, we will see the development of how information is presented, including the use of 3D images to move around and spot the issue, scenario simulations, drag and drop answers, fill in the blanks, and text-based answers, which have been traditionally difficult to analyse.
How far can technology go?
‘Learning by Doing’ is a comprehensive guide completed by Clark Aldrich, a designer of educational simulations. The research carried out in 2005 showed those in training were more likely to learn to carry out the role, as opposed to reading about it.
Today’s eLearning simulations involve a computer or mobile device screen that leaves plenty of space for distractions. However, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will allow learners truly ‘learn by doing’ as they are able to step inside and fully immerse themselves in the situation. Headsets and audio devices enable them to block out external distractions and deal with the virtual task at hand.
In addition to giving employees an overview of the job role, AR and VR technology also ensure the training is risk-free, meaning trainees can make mistakes in the virtual world that will not affect real-world operations.
However, for many organisations, the technology is still far outside of budget allowance. Sarah O’Brien, Senior Learning and Organisational Development Officer at Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, explained:
“Virtual Reality technology is extremely expensive and we work with a high number of multi-agency partners who are just not equipped to invest in the equipment, so it’s still a long way off for us as an option.”
Learning Management Systems will play a key role in the future of eLearning
A learning management system, often referred to as LMS, is a standard part of many training processes but will be an essential tool as eLearning becomes even more commonplace. Businesses have found scheduling training for different times to suit the learners works best, especially those onboarding several employees at once. Providing courses which can be accessed at their own time and pace is also a bonus which isn’t possible with face-to-face training.
Not only does an LMS allow unlimited access to learning materials, it provides organisations with the ability to measure the effectiveness and productivity of each course, as well as being able to monitor the learning gain of delegates to report the true impact of the training sessions.
Sam Smith, Partnership Manager at Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, commented that:
“The success of our virtual courses wouldn’t have been possible without Phew’s Learning Management System and eLearning module. In 2019-20 we had approximately 435 eLearning delegates, which increased considerably to 2,100 in 2020-21. The latest figures in March 2022 show that we are nearing 6,000.
“It makes processes robust, simpler, and more efficient by automating what were previously manual processes. It also allows us to measure the effectiveness and productivity of each event or course effortlessly, as well as report the impact on children.”
Although many of the changes made regarding training during the pandemic were done because of the limitations, organisations have embraced the changes and used them to improve their training routines, making eLearning a concept that will continue to evolve moving forward.