E-Learning Evolution - The 3 Biggest Changes


1. E-Learning Redefined

If there is one pattern in the e-Learning environment that has emerged plain and distinct, it's the way that today's learners are engaged in the training. It's modified the meaning of what "training" entails. Over the past half-decade or so, human psychology and technology breakthrough work has spawned a range of new developments on how people think, including:

Microlearning: This is a phenomenon that has seen students consuming content through short bursts, on-demand and bite-size content. Instead of sitting through hours of online classes, the smartphone revolution has made more learners turn to micro learning as their favorite path to learning.

Social Learning: The rise of downsizing, outsourcing, and de-centralization as a way to push organizational efficiencies, has seen trainers turn to social learning as a means of educating a geographically diverse workforce over the last half decade or so. A main driver of this newer learning approach is also the growth of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Adaptive Learning: Over the past five years or so, technical advances have also helped eLearning shift away from Instructor Lead Training (ILT) and adapt to a new model driven by learners. Adaptive learning aims to change the training material and experiences based on the reactions and interactions between each student and the training methods they use.

And how did eLearning make an impact on those paradigm shifts? Where trainers used to be the focus of most training initiatives five years ago or more, today these changing developments in eLearning place the student at the heart of all training initiatives.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)

Developments in the application of VR & AR in training have been breakthrough in the last 5 years. Owing to faster processors, smaller footprint microchips and technical advances such as Apple's AR glasses, Facebook's Oculus and Google Glass, eLearning applications that were previously unimaginable are now almost commonplace, such as educating doctors in complex medical procedures.

Today, an AR / VR experience:

  • Train students on subjects historically used to be the sole domain of the ILT.
  • Transform the classroom or meeting room into every conceivable setting – a factory floor, high-rise construction site, or high-tech laboratory, with none of the associated health and safety issues – ideal for research and learning errors!
  • Limits eLearning only to the degree that the instructional designer can attempt to dream or imagine
By integrating virtual environments and scenarios into the eLearning curriculum, instructional designers provide real-life learning experiences to students who would otherwise never have such opportunities at their fingertips. VR / AR enable the creators of eLearning content to make learning more engaging for students.

3. Trends in Learning Management System

Following the introduction of the first cloud-based LMS in 2008, continuing attempts have been made to transform how training material is handled and distributed within the cloud. An initial effort was made about five years ago (2012) to exploit cloud technology to deliver LMS as a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) service.

For SaaS applications:

Instructional designers find it more convenient to create and manage their eLearning content digitally, as opposed to using solely mobile software as they did a half-decade ago or more.

Learners find it more convenient to access and consume content in the cloud 24/7, using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Today, more mainstream LMS developers have migrated to SaaS offerings than ever before, including some of the heavyweights in the industry who previously dominated the conventional LMS scene.

4. The future of eLearning is here

Those of us who are waiting for the future of eLearning to become apparent, so that we can fully accept it, are already missing something big: the future is already here ... we need to change our approaches to eLearning to embrace the future NOW, or we will soon be left behind!

Explore classroom use of VR, whether it's a virtual or a mixed class. Take a look at your current ventures, and see if through virtual and augmented reality you can provide your learners with a better experience.

Using a range of social networking resources and methods out there, including podcasts, forums, videos and RSS feeds, not just to deliver your content, but also to remain linked to your eLearners community.

If you are reluctant to accept the cloud to build and manage your eLearning content, then consider some free tools that are available.

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