As this year starts you should be thinking about how you will improve your eLearning offerings... if you want to ensure they keep up with the upcoming 2019 trends!
Now is the perfect time to assess the past year. What did you do well? What can you change? Those existing courses with low engagement and completion rates, how are you going to improve them? Those new courses you are going to create, what are you going to do different? The answers to these questions will help to guide your efforts. If you stick with your 2017 or 2018 strategy, you may miss out on critical opportunities to improve your eLearning program.
Here are some ideas to consider:
1) Start With a Learner Journey Map.
In order for your eLearning program to be successful, you need to adequately meet the needs of your learners. One effective way to do this is to map out their learning journey so you know what they need at different stages. This mapping exercise is similar to customer journey mapping which is used to illustrate the full customer buying experience. It ensures the customer is supported at each stage of the buying process.
A learner journey does the same for your students. It helps you to visualize their needs, thoughts, and feelings as they evolve while working in the company; how they will evolve over time (e.g. Intern, Junior Associate, Assistant Manager, Sales Manager, Vice President of Sales…etc.) will arrow what types of learning support might they require. Each of the phases should be supplemented with appropriate learning opportunities and resources. Here’s where you need to identify what a learner might be doing (e.g.: Familiarizing themselves with the company’s product line), and how the employee will reach out and “touch” the company’s learning resources to support what they are doing.
You can use a learner journey map to help you get internal manager buy-in for the course too. If you can show you understand learner’s needs, they will be willing to trust you with their time. When you consider all the varying requirements learners have during the company, you will realize how much effort you have to put into ensuring they attain competency.
2) Mimic Googling Behavior
Google limits the way in which people search. Think about those suggestions you get when you start typing into the search engines. You don’t even have to complete your thought and Google has some idea of what you’re looking for. This isn’t just to make things more convenient for you. It also trains you how to phrase your questions so you get the results you want.
Your eLearning content, therefore, needs to be organized in a way that potential learners can easily find it to bring this familiar digital consumer behavior.
Allow learners to search and discover through your eLearning modules easily :)
Try to implement Google’s system in your LMS as closely as possible. You can start by making sure your content, headings, titles and meta descriptions are aligned with modern search habits. This is the minimum effort you should make. People expect the correct result to show up at the top of the search results and meeting this expectation improves their experience.
Searchers also now expect results which are targeted to their location, their previous searches, and what other people are searching for. People searching your LMS will, therefore, want results that are personalized and relevant to their job. Consider upgrading your search capabilities accordingly in 2019.
3) Start Adopting Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence has added a new dimension to online learning, although it is in the early stages. AI can help learners to better understand the objectives of a course when they are trying to decide whether it is right for them. Instead of having to wait until they can get in contact with an instructor, a bot can answer questions immediately. A bot can also assist with answering basic questions about the learning materials once participants begin to work through the lessons. Chatbots especially can be used to help with technical questions during the eLearning experience.
AI also has a role in personalizing the learning experience. This is important since students want to feel like training really meets their individual needs. AI can be used to help students select additional modules based on their interests or revisit areas in which they seem to be having difficulty. It can even be used to offer voice-based searches of course materials.
Depending on your budget, you may not be able to fully implement AI in your course offerings in 2019. However, this trend is only likely to pick up so you should begin thinking about how you can utilize it in the years to come. It should be noted that bots won’t replace instructors or face-to-face mentoring and support, but they will be able to help at times when instructors can’t. The information they collect can also help course creators to better refine their offering.
4) Mobile-First Learning (Full-responsive eLearning designs)
Most people do everything on their mobile phones these days. They play games, trade stocks, consume news and run companies. Why shouldn’t they also be able to access your course? They certainly expect it. Many organizations see smartphones as a distraction but the truth is, they are not going anywhere. You need to meet learners where they are. Mobile-first content that also works on larger devices is the way to go. This is a departure from responsive design, i.e. a site which is built primarily for desktop but adapts to phones and tablets. In 2019, think seriously about designing course content that is meant for consumption on mobile phones.
Mobile-first and mobile-friendly courses allow learners to have materials at their fingertips. Ideally, your modules should be linked directly to work-related tasks. Therefore, if learners need a quick refresher before working on a project, they can easily access it. Think of it as just-in-time production for eLearning. It gives workers the support they need when trying to implement what they have learned. Mobile-first learning or mLearning can increase engagement levels and encourage learners to complete the course.
5) Motivate with Games
Gaming in eLearning and corporate training? Yes. The gaming industry and developers of social media sites have figured out how to get people motivated about their products. Course creators can implement some of their tactics. Feelings like accomplishment, scarcity, and unpredictability, along with the need for social interaction, help to drive many human behaviors. Gamers feel accomplished when they move from one level to another. You go on Facebook multiple times per day because you can’t predict what you will see. Twitter helps you to feel empowered since you can express your feelings. Think about how your course can help to create similar feelings and motivate people to sign up and complete every module.
Gamification does not have to be hard to implement. You can encourage learners to move through different levels in your LMS, reward them when they have done so and give them an incentive to go even further. You can incorporate “power-ups” and penalties to keep things exciting and award badges or points. If learners can easily share their achievement on social media, this will be well-received. Such a system can be used for both professional, technical, and soft skills training.
You should focus on maximizing the impact of your training in 2019. While some strategies like the implementation of AI won’t become mainstream immediately, mobile first learning environments and gamification are picking up speed. If you want your training to be on the cutting edge, you should begin your in-depth research now and choose the strategies which are likely to bring you the best results.