14 MIN READ

Expert Opinion: 10 E-learning Trends that will Dominate in 2020

Since the early days of e-learning, its benefits have significantly outweigh those of face-to-face training. The rapid growth of the internet and mobile devices has made e-learning flexible, time-saving, and cost-effective in training.

This has highlighted e-learning as an essential part of education market growth. Companies have adopted e-learning as a more flexible and effective way to train their employees. Additionally, customer education is becoming more and more popular as an innovative marketing tactic.

However, we are far from reaching an upper limit. The current and future trends in e-learning prove that it is a field for continuous innovation. It is true that the e-learning market size is expected to grow beyond $300 billion by 2025

What we saw last year emerging as a top trend will probably continue to build up and transform in the new year until it is mature or replaced by a better or different technology or method.

Where do we see e-learning heading for the new year?

There are so many “so-called experts” out there promising you one-week success, and opportunities that fall from the sky.

But, in reality, it requires a lot of hard work, study, experimentation, and persistence. You need to be continuously informed about the new trends in e-learning so that you can keep up with new students.

That is why we reached ten different e-learning experts to ask them what they believe the trends for 2020 are.

Their answers reveal exciting new trends that will change the e-learning scene given that we will do a really hard work to provide amazing learning experiences and stand out in the e-learning field.

Experts talking about elearning trends in 2020

Here are the top e-learning trends for 2020 according to the experts. Feel free to navigate to each one of them!

Also, let us know what you think about them!

1. Curriculum as a Community

Curriculum as a community is based in a learning environment where participants engage with the content and – more importantly – with each other. Online collaborative activities allow all participants to expose their ideas and thereby create an interactive canvas of diverse reactions and feedback.

According to Jeff Cobb, a veteran of 20 years in the e-learning industry and owner of learningrevolution.net:

“Curriculum as a community is a trend that will really help you stand out in a crowded market and achieve real learning results.” – Jeff Cobb

Jeff refers to, as an example, an environment with carefully designed questions for students, 24/7 discussion, and a team of facilitators who work to connect learners and keep them engaged.

Indeed, creating a community will help you stand out. A community in online courses provokes the students to participate and learn together. Learning is a social activity by itself. We learn through contact and discourse with another person who is more competent in the field. Speech and conversation with one another generate knowledge that is negotiated and subjected to endless talk.

This is why Bill Brandon, Senior Editor at Learning Solutions Magazine, also believes that peer-to-peer applications that drive collaborative learning will be an actual trend for 2020.

Online collaborative learning engages students in higher-order thinking skills. It can be either synchronous or asynchronous, and usually is instructor-led and text-based. The instructor is the facilitator of the group discourse and acts as a mediator between learners.

In an online learning platform, what you need to look for is a built-in social network page where you can empower your active community and allow students to be bonded and actively involved in the school.

E-learning trends - LearnWorlds community
An example of a LearnWorlds community

However, building a learning community is neither automatic nor straightforward to achieve. The instructor has to understand the structural elements of learners’ communication and their motivational layers. All you have to do is to learn easy ways to build an online learning community in 2020.

2. User-generated Content

An inevitable trend that arises from curriculum as a community in 2020 is User-Generated Content. Christopher Pappas thinks that this trend will reign supreme in 2020.

User-generated content is what actually the phrase says: “Learners develop content and share it with their peers. It can refer to videos, blog posts, testimonials, pictures, tweets, ebooks, and any type of content.”

Imagine how you could decrease your time and money budget by using content generated by your students.

Obviously, user-generated content campaigns have been a constant player also in the marketing world because people crave stories from real people, and they want interaction with other humans. It is not a coincidence that 92% of people are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over branded content.

User-generated content is so effective because it’s authentic, it creates a sense of community, and it’s cost-effective. This tactic, which is very easily done within an LMS, benefits learners, and facilitates knowledge sharing.

Users can upload their resources to the system through any device and share their content. It really relies on the existence of a strong team where everyone helps each other to achieve shared goals.

Imagine people sharing examples (in the form of videos, pictures, or text) of how and why they used your products. And we are talking about REAL examples, not the ones you have to create on your own as your brand representative.

You will have valuable examples of your product’s fans. All you have to do is give incentives to people to produce such material.

3. Smart Content Curation

One of the learning trends for 2020 is Smart Content Curation. It refers to the manner we treat our educational material, given that our students don’t have time to discern the necessary information in them.

According to Christopher Pappas, the founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field, a smart content curation, requires excellent content organization, omission and optimization.

That means that every time we design new learning content we have to think:

All these questions must be thoroughly answered by an online instructor, because as Christopher says:

“Offloading information in bulk will only lead to cognitive overload and disengaged learners. As such, you need to be smart about how you curate content online and disperse it to your target audience.” – Christopher Pappas

And Panos Siozos, the CEO and co-founder of LearnWorlds, adds that:

Just throwing a video or a pdf at someone and considering this to be e-learning, doesn’t cut it anymore. Users demand great aesthetics, outstanding design and typography, and expertly-designed user journeys. Investing in the design of your online school and learning content is not a luxury but a necessity.” – Panos Siozos

To achieve optimal content delivery, instructors must adapt a plan to design a course. We are talking about instructional design – the systematic development of instructional material using instructional theory.

It is the process of analyzing learning goals and adapting specific learning strategies and methods to achieve those goals and ensure the quality of instruction. Here is an example of an engaging instructional method:

Poppy Hill, a talent development, e-learning expert, and a Certified Performance Improvement expert (CPT), founder of Polygon performance, emphasizes storytelling as a method to make your content engaging.

People are evolutionarily hardwired for stories. Storytelling and e-learning are a natural pair.

“Stories engage us in emotional, shocking, funny, and memorable ways, so information sticks. In my e-learning, I use animated scenarios for storytelling, narrated voice with appropriate graphics, and even stories embedded in quizzes or practice related to the content I’m teaching.” – Poppy Hill

Poppy also recommends one method to follow: Once upon a time (Introduction, People and Setting), Suddenly (Problem Action, Conflict), and then (Solution/Journey, Elements) Happily ever after (Results, Action).

There is a variety of such methods used in e-learning you can search for to compose your instructional design. Instructional design is often developed by a certain person in a company that is qualified in refining and organizing the learning content.

The need for such qualified people is what forms the following e-learning trend for 2020.

4. Emphasis on the Instructional Designer

According to David Hopkins, an experienced leader and manager of learning design and learning technology, author, blogger, Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT) and Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (FHEA), what is constant is our attention to clarity and quality when producing learning materials, as “Technology comes and goes.”

And who is responsible for the clarity and quality of the learning material?

The instructional designer.

From translating original content to the appropriate adoption and use of the technology to deliver the training, what is more important than everything, is this person.

More and more companies now hire instructional designers. And experts now emphasize their role for 2020. An instructional designer:

For David, “the individual must become the focus of the learning experience, not the technology delivering it.” Technology – in the form of the learning platform – still has a part to play, but the focus is on how to use this technology to support the creation of learning materials.

According to this theory, the instructional designer (who often doesn’t have only one capacity in a company) is the one businesses should pay attention to.

“This individual is the unsung hero in many organizations – often the last link in the chain before the training is released, often the last one in the office beavering away to complete the learning.” – David Hopkins

Instructional designers are going to be very important in learning and development in 2020. According to David, when designers are supported properly in a company, a wide variety of skills, creativity, and capability is possible.

This picture depicts the severity of roles of an instructional designer:

A diagram explaining 12 different roles of an instructional designer
Source: So What Do You Really Mean By ‘Instructional Designer?

5.Interactive Videos

Video has always been a trend in e-learning. And it will continue to be among the future trends. They have been scientifically proven to increase learner engagement and participation, thus maximize knowledge retention and ability to visualize the “unexplained”:

How videos visualize the unexplainable
How videos visualize the unexplainable

Video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube and Vimeo, and the explosion of mobile devices, have given a real resurgence in video use.

A rising trend within video learning is Interactive Videos. As Phil Mayor, the Creative Director of Elearning Laboratory, an instructional design company, states:

“Videos fast became the ideal medium to deliver training. This is easily justified: A well crafted video can be engaging and can be distributed relatively quickly. Also interactive videos as platforms that allow this become more prevalent.” – Phil Mayor

Interactivity in videos can be considered a major influencing factor of the learning success because it is transforming passive watchers to active learners.

LearnWorlds is one of the platforms that provides interactive videos. In fact, it is the only one from the most successful platforms that do so and gives a lot of guidance on how you can jazz up your courses with interactive videos through a variety of free blog posts and free courses.

What are interactive videos? They are videos that help students explore further resources apart from the video content with links and interactive objects appearing in the video.

They allow users to navigate in the content through content tables, bookmarking, interactive transcripts, and navigational buttons.

What’s more, they include questionnaires with feedback at the exact moment you want.

Also, interactive videos, in some cases, support dialogues around the video content.

We can now understand why the traditional video is no longer sufficient on its own.

Craig Weiss, the CEO and Lead Analyst of The Craig Weiss Group and founder of FindAnLMS, also believes that the scene in the learning authoring tools will change:

“All authoring tools will add more video capabilities, including video bookmarking, transcript, and low scale video editing.” – Craig Weiss

6. Learning Analytics

With Learning Analytics, instructors view student feedback in questionnaires, assignments and also see the video engagement – in short – how students perform in general. This data shows how much time each learner engages with each activity and helps instructional designers optimize courses.

Most training platforms provide Learning Analytics, which is the industry-leading tool for tracking and reporting student behavior that can assist your course development journey every step of the way.

Ryan Tracey, the E-learning Provocateur, creator of one of the top e-learning blogs, and Learning Innovation Manager at Macquarie Group, thinks that data is the next big trend for 2020.

I think that data will play an increasingly important role in e-learning, whether it’s generated automatically via the likes of xAPI or sourced via more manual methods, to inform the work, we do, and evaluate the outcomes.” – Ryan Tracey

He emphasizes on the importance of learning analytics by saying that “Only with such data can we be confident that we’re adding value to the business.

Also, Craig Weiss expects to see more systems incorporating or connecting with Business Intelligence Tools, which will result in extensive metrics and data. This video explains more about learning analytics.

In training platform, there are also several tracking tools concerning course sales like:

7. Microlearning

Microlearning is still a rising trend for 2020 and will grow in importance both in the private and public sectors because of its engaging nature.

It refers to small bite-sized chunks of information that aim to teach specific skills. Means of microlearning can be texts, images, videos, audio, tests, quizzes, games, or a combination of them.

Not strange that microlearning is still a trend. As Panos Siozos says:

“Innovation and novelties are what most people pay attention to, but there is also a lot of recycling – in the best sense possible – of good old ideas that get a new lease of life and find their way into modern practice.” – Panos Siozos

It is a fact that long modules are boring for learners. Smaller chunks of content are easier to employ and also improve learners’ retention levels.

According to Barbara Anna Zielonka, an experienced learning designer and EdTech specialist, top-10 Global Teacher Prize finalist, with a proven track record in the education sector:

“Not only does microlearning empower workers, but it also enables employers to close knowledge and skill gaps.” – Barbara Anna Zielonka

Microlearning is less time-consuming, and cheaper-to-produce and is surprisingly effective for corporate and commercial training. Personalized and bite-sized courses are ubiquitously easy to read. Also, smaller courses with interactive elements appeal to all different types of workers. This is why Microlearning is a win-win for employees and employers.

Phil Mayor also sees Microlearning as a trend for 2020.

“Microlearning will continue to be adopted by organizations as a key way of delivering bite-sized nuggets of training to their organizations as well as providing a way of delivering just-in-time training to individuals through the use of RFID and QR codes.” – Phil Mayor

8. Mobile-Friendly Online Course Platforms

In conjunction with the still rising trend of microlearning, ubiquitous learning is taking more and more space. The ability to learn anywhere anytime is more real now than ever before.

Panos Siozos says:

“Every time we check out the analytics of our platform, we see more growth for mobile usage and users consuming different kinds of content based on the time of day or the device they have in front of them.” – Panos Siozos

It’s more important than ever to make our courses accessible to all so that they can watch it from anywhere and anytime. Apart from computers, it should be made available for mobile phones, tablets, or any other device that learners are using. This is why:

“What we see today is this truism taking place in full swing: users accessing their online courses anywhere anytime, from any kind of device they can get their hands on. At work, they use their laptop. When commuting home on the train or subway, they use their large-screen mobile phone, and once they find themselves at the comfort of their sofa, they revert to their tablet and continue from where they left off. It’s totally seamless.” – Panos Siozos

For this, its imperative in 2020 to invest in a totally mobile-friendly platform to host your online courses and start thinking about a post-laptop learning strategy.

9. Virtual Conferences

Another popular trend in e-learning for 2020 is Virtual conferences. A virtual conference is an online event that brings together a group of people with similar expertise so that they can learn from one another. They occur entirely online rather than in a physical location.

According to Jeff Cobb virtual conferences have solved the problem of declining attendance at traditional face-to-face events. Organizations now hold conferences to gain more traction and they start capitalizing on the advantages that virtual conferences provide. Such advantages are the ability to:

Hosting a virtual conference has a lot of benefits:

This is why Jeff also says:

“We’ve been fans of virtual conferences for years at my company and are investing heavily in growing our own Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) virtual conference in 2020.” – Jeff Cobb

10. AI, AR, VR, MR, and VUIs

In 2020 we will also see some changes in the field of user experience. AI, AR, VR, MR, and VUIs are expected to increase attention and improve the learning experience.

Bill Brandon thinks that:

“There will continue to be a lot of talk about leading-edge technology (VR, AR, AI) and some adoption of it, but the actual trend will be better design and use of voice interfaces (VUIs) in performance support roles, and peer-to-peer applications that drive collaborative learning.” – Bill Brandon

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) allow learners to use a system with voice or speech commands. Already accessible through smartphones, VUIs allow us to give commands to computers, eyes, and hands-free users can easily interact with a product.

Being able to verbalize a Google search instead of typing each character individually makes information easily accessible and ubiquitous. This might support students to research facts, check spellings, and look up words or synonyms without too much distraction from the main task.

To remember trends also popular in 2019:

Poppy Hill states that:

Virtual reality is used to show real-life examples of things the learner may not be able to experience first hand because it’s too expensive, they need more practice, or it’s impossible to experience the learning due to other circumstances. – Poppy Hill

And she gives the following example:

I’ve used VR in e-learning by creating a movie in a dairy farm to pasteurize milk. The movie took place in a dairy pasteurization plant, and the learner could walk around with an IPAD and press buttons to open doors and learn about everything in the room. The customer would never let people into their processing plants to learn, so these videos were the next best thing. They are easy to make, and you don’t even need special glasses!

Conclusion

With the e-learning trends we highlighted here, signs are clear that the e-learning industry will only grow stronger in the coming years. As technology develops, these trends will get better and better.

Trends come and go, but the e-learning trends seem to maintain a specific route:

Learner-centered, personalized, accessible, and engaging e-learning.

Organizations need to pay close attention to these new developments and adapt what best suits them. As Jeff Cobb, says:

“As online courses have become commonplace, edupreneurs need models that will stand them out in a crowded market and achieve real learning results.”

Based on the above trends, these are our suggestions for 2020:

If you like what the experts told us, give them a small thank you by sharing their advice on social media!

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Course Designer & Content Creator at LearnWorlds

Anthea is a Course designer and Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team. She holds years of experience in instructional design and teaching. With a Master of Education (M.Ed.) focused in Modern Teaching Methods & ICT (Information & Communications Technology), she supplements her knowledge with practical experience in E-Learning and Educational Technology.