Upcoming Technologies in Online Learning
Online learning is transforming the space for learning and development in all industries across the world. According to statistics, the global eLearning market is expected to reach $336.98 billion by 2026. Many global organizations turned to eLearning when the pandemic hit to encourage continuous learning and increase employee engagement . As a result, eLearning developers and instructional designers are coming up with creative ways to improve learner performance and productivity.
The ideal eLearning today is designed to enable self-paced learning through responsive design. According to recent statistics, 58% of employees prefer self-paced learning . It supports multiple learning styles and environments, including Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) compliance and audio in multiple languages. Along with these features, most organizations today focus on including advanced technologies and elements to make eLearning engaging. Among many such advancements, a few emerging technologies that will rule the field of learning and development across the globe are discussed later in this article.
Emerging technologies that will govern learning and development
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in eLearning
To begin definition AI is the “ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings”. Apart from e-learning, it is a vast field of computing that is used all over the world to perform tasks that can be done with human intelligence.
When it comes to e-learning, AI-based e-learning can perform tasks that mostly require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, multilingual content, etc. Integrating AI into e-learning will allow an organization to personalize a learner’s learning journey and guide them through it. Organizations like Duolingo and Thinkster have AI-integrated eLearning. A few other uses include analyzing large amounts of data (learner responses to assessments), 24/7 support for learner questions or technical issues (virtual assistants), and suggesting additional or related resources . The use of AI in eLearning is expected to double over the next decade.
2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AR and VR are two technologies that are advancing rapidly. With AR, one can experience a combination of real-world and computer-generated elements. It includes real-world scenes around an individual and allows them to add digital elements to it. Snapchat, Pokemon Go game and Google ARCore are examples of AR. On the other hand, virtual reality includes computer generated elements that are simulated to look real. With virtual reality, an individual interacts virtually with an environment. For example, you can put on VR glasses and virtually reach Switzerland, or put on VR glasses and drive a car.
Integrating augmented reality and virtual reality into online learning can improve learner engagement and help them connect to real-world scenarios. As a result, knowledge retention and application will increase. These technologies can be suitable for all learners, regardless of their age group, and work in all sectors, such as business, education and the public sector. It can take a learning experience to the next level and decrease feelings of isolation. For example, the use of augmented reality in eLearning can help create advanced game quests and assessments, while virtual reality can simulate real-life content-related scenarios and increase content comprehensibility. These technologies are sure to dominate the world of eLearning.
3. Gamification in eLearning
Adding playful elements in eLearning is an effective content strategy to make it more engaging for the learner. Simply put, gamification is about including game-like elements in a course that spark curiosity and motivate learning. Gamification can be added to train professional and interpersonal skills, onboarding training, compliance training, and more. Some examples of gamification include adding challenges to a course, earning badges at each level of the learning path, and transforming a course into a quest for learning.
Gamification brings several advantages. First, it has the potential to turn complex, content-rich topics into interesting and fun learnings. This gives learners a reason to stick with the training until the end. Today’s learners are looking for courses that allow them to solve real-world problems and gamification can facilitate this process. Karla Gutierrez talks about a simple three-step model for integrating gamification into the proposed eLearning. While creating a particular challenge, she says you have to create tension first, then create urgency and create time constraints. She also mentions that learners should not be given an easy way out. This will help learners to concentrate and understand. Today, most organizations have already offered gamified courses. Over the next decade, it will be an integral part of eLearning globally.
4. Other technologies
The future of eLearning is exciting and there are many technologies to come. Besides those discussed above, below are several others that will add value to the learning and development department.
It’s about breaking down long content into smaller lessons that take less time. It can be in the form of video, audio and illustration. It takes less time and money to deliver and increases flexibility.
- Mobile learning or mLearning
This refers to enabling delivery of learning content to mobile devices. It’s successful when employees work remotely and want to learn on the go.
To conclude, there is a growing reach for the e-learning technologies described above, and most organizations have already started integrating them into their workplaces. The industry offers state-of-the-art technologies that support the learning and development of every individual across all industries.