As 2020 draws to a close, it would be an understatement to say we have plenty to look back on. But how can we make this year’s challenges and worldwide reliance on online spheres work harder for us as we head into another year of uncertainty? Let’s take a look ahead at what might be in store for us in 2021, so that we can build the best possible experiences into our online learning provision
- A rise in blended learning – Although the possibility of attending in-person training courses is in such a state of flux, the appetite for it has never been stronger. People are desperate to get back out there and learn with others, meet new people and share their learning experience in a hands-on way. Blended learning offers the perfect joint approach between this and the flexible, cheap and effective nature of online learning. It brings together face-to-face and eLearning in a harmonious bundle, by strengthening the sense of community and offering expert training in a variety of formats. What’s more, learning is more memorable – by taking some of the learning independently online at their own pace, more time can be spent in the classroom on deeper, individualised responses to learning needs. This creates a sense of great value for money and satisfaction!
- An increased use of mixed technologies – As the technological world evolves at an increasingly fast pace but the cost of purchasing it becomes more attainable for the average person, we have never been in a better position to purpose it for eLearning. Humans process and retain information in different ways, which means we have different learning styles or preferences. Some of us need strong visuals, others learn more effectively by listening, many find the only way to really make learning stick is by physically (kinaesthetically) doing something with their bodies, and so on. However it’s estimated that 50-70 per cent of the population are multimodal learners, bringing together a number of different learning styles, which is what makes mixed technologies so effective for learning.
Augmented reality (AR – enhancing the real world by overlaying it with non-interactable virtual objects), mixed reality (MR – an extension of AR in which you can interact with the virtual environment) and virtual reality (VR – using headsets to fully immerse yourself in a virtual world) brings a contextual, experiential element to the eLearning sphere that is exciting and meaningful. In using these technologies, emphasis is taken away from traditional teach and learn methods and acknowledges the learner as the most important piece in the puzzle. Right now, eCoach are excited to be building interactions with mixed technologies like these and other software such as mobile apps. We understand the benefits that simulation and gamification can bring to training, especially if matters such as safeguarding or costs are prohibitive.
- The need for microlearning – Whether still commuting for work, racking up long hours at home or caring for children and vulnerable family, people lead very busy lives. Whilst we may be spending more time at home with on/off social distancing rules to adhere to, people still don’t want to have to commit to unnecessarily lengthy or complicated online learning courses. According to Ofcom, during the first lockdown our screen time increased to 40 per cent of our waking day and none of us know with any real confidence if or how much it will decrease as we move into further lockdowns in 2021.
Computing devices have now been opened up to a broader range of audiences who have experienced new ways of communicating and learning – their attitudes towards technology have changed and that’s the hardest part done! With microlearning, bite-sized chunks of information and interaction allow users to dip in and out without having to pause reading or watching halfway through. People only have five minutes to spare while they wait for their food to finish cooking? No problem, they can pick up their learning easily and will only need to retain a small piece of information, making it more likely to stick.
- A growth in smartphone use for learning – It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t carry our phones everywhere with us. To the desk, the dinner table, bed and even the bathroom! These mini portable computers are connecting us faster than ever with what’s going on in the world and our loved ones. The age range of people with smartphones is expanding too. From children to the elderly, more and more are recognising that smartphones are hard to live without. Creating eLearning content which is mobile-friendly or contained within an app puts your brand and messaging at people’s fingertips wherever they are. You’ll need to decide if you wish to adapt your eLearning content for mobile platforms or devise specially created content for mobile technology (for example an app). It’s also worth considering if your learners might need to access training content on the job at the ‘point of need’. This creates an embedded, in-depth learning experience that can be picked up as many times as the learner needs, rather than a one-off information drop.
- The continued rise of the webinar – When Coronavirus hit, many of us had to resort to video conferencing – for work meetings, our exercise classes, social connections and our personal or professional development. Webinars have been around a long time, but 2020 was the year that they became truly embraced. Even when we are able to get back to in-person catch-ups and classes, the ease and cost of webinars will never be forgotten. Zoom, Teams and other providers are household names now and they are here to stay, whether for small groups of people or large-scale lectures. Taken from the comfort of our own homes and beaming in experts from around the globe, these cost a fraction of the price, if anything, to put on and capacity rates are able to push well past the ceiling of bricks and mortar conferences. Like blended learning, webinars add value to eLearning courses by complementing online courses with that personable face-to-face connection.
Despite the uncertainty of how 2021 will actually look for face-to-face training, one thing remains clear – the demand for eLearning has taken a giant leap forward and with this, providers need to be prepared. eCoach knows the importance of staying ahead of the curve and is committed to continue to diversify the organisations we work with and the technologies we add to the repertoire we offer.
But we aren’t the leaders in the game here, you are. We’d love to hear what your training needs are and how we can help you make them a reality. Get in touch using the contact form and together let’s not only follow the trends for 2021 but make them.