Times are a-changing and it seems that nothing digital ever stays still. New technology and digital experiences are emerging all the time and having an affect on the way we live, work, and communicate. While there are many L&D trends to expect in the year ahead, some are more specific to eLearning in particular.
In the year ahead, learning will become even more personalized and centred around the experience, especially as workplaces will remain remote or hybrid well into the foreseeable future.
Additionally, the march towards mobile-first and even mobile-only training will continue, in order to accommodate employees’ busy schedules and the need to insert learning wherever and however the employee is able to participate.
Below are five eLearning and instructional design trends for 2022 that you can anticipate taking hold in your L&D programs.
Know what to expect from the year ahead.
Download the complete guide to L&D trends and challenges in 2022.
1. Mobile-first microlearning
Learners are demanding better learning experiences—everyone can agree that this is one of the biggest eLearning trends in 2022. It’s not just reduced attention spans; learners have little more than one hour per week to spend on training. According to Training magazine, employees receive on average 55.4 hours of training per year.
As such, if they are going to make the best use of that hour—or if they intend to go over that beyond their normal working hours—they want training that is engaging and relevant.
This is why organizations have to realize the power of a mobile-first or even mobile-only strategy and tailor their learning experiences accordingly. When delivered via mobile, microlearning creates the right experience for learners.
Of course, an hour-long training cannot be delivered completely via a smartphone or tablet. Bite-size modules, a trend continuing for several years now, are the only way to make a mobile-first strategy work to everyone’s advantage.
When designing learning experiences, support materials, and even assessments, L&D teams need to ask themselves whether the course elements can be delivered in shorter segments, and how that content will render on mobile devices.
“With microlearning becoming a part of the continuous learning cycle, learners pay better attention to the subject at hand,” notes Suresh Kumar in eLearning Industry.
Looking for practical tips on implementing a microlearning strategy? Check out this 4 step roadmap to microlearning success.
2. Always ask: can we measure the impact?
The reliance on measurement is nothing new. However, because every training dollar must be accounted for, today’s instructional designers, before embarking on a new project or incorporating a new platform or system, must ask themselves: can we measure the impact?
This is not just measuring the dollars or hours spent developing the training. Going deeper to measure the results of the training on the employee’s everyday work will be even more important.
This requires L&D to work with the business units to create pathways for measurement. There isn’t a universal way to measure performance, but placing this request before the training takes place can make the collection of measurement data easier.
Defining L&D’s Impact With Operational Data
3. More storytelling, more authenticity
An eLearning trend that “stands the test of time,” according to eLearning Industry, storytelling and authenticity are surefire ways to make learning content more relevant, personal, and engaging.
Concise, authentic storytelling helps to effectively break down complex information without having to simply teach facts that learners may have trouble understanding and retaining later on.
“Stories appeal emotionally by offering up vivid imagery while also providing information that learners understand viscerally, and this provides a significant advantage to simply being told about a place, process, or fact logically without any kind of context or narrative,” explains Mario Buljan in eLearning Industry. “Connecting them together in a meaningful way through storytelling improves memory consolidation and learning outcomes.”
4. Personalization using AI
One of the eLearning trends in 2022 is a stronger reliance on AI and related automation technologies. Now more than ever, instructional designers will need to lean on AI in order to deliver stronger, personalized experiences to their learners.
The one size fits all approach of even just a few years ago simply doesn’t work, and employees want to know that their employer is investing the resources in developing and delivering training that is exactly what they need to do their jobs.
AI and related automation technologies first require a data set to “train” the system, in order to make the proper recommendations later on. In 2022, more than they had in the past, instructional designers will be feeding employee learner profiles, skills assessments, and other data into the AI platform in order to train it to create the personalized curriculum selections employees will eventually need.
Indeed, AI can do the tedious job of making recommendations that instructional designers simply do not have the bandwidth to carry out.
5. VR and AR, not so much
While virtual reality and augmented reality platforms have been lauded for their ability to create engaging, immersive experiences, especially for learners who cannot be trained in person in a real-life classroom, VR and AR might be taking a backseat for 2022.
This might seem counterintuitive, especially as eLearning platforms have become more sophisticated and even senior management sees the value of incorporating VR and AR into training, especially in sales, as the technologies can help in simulations.
However, at issue is that VR and AR are also heavily dependent on hardware with sufficient memory capacity and strong, fast Internet connections. With employees dispersed in dozens or hundreds of different locations, and with many using their own hardware and home WiFi connections, it can be a challenge to roll out VR or AR training at scale, in order for there to be a uniform experience for all.
The technology will not grind to a halt, but it will only be used in a limited capacity, due to distributed teams.
Be personal, be authentic, be awesome: today’s learners want L&D to truly “get” them.
AI-driven, personalized mobile experience with a heavy emphasis on storytelling will do the job of getting learners more engaged, raising adoption rates, and proving the value of L&D.