When it comes to eLearning trends, 2021 promises to call many traditional ways of thinking into question. A pandemic in a tumultuous political season means a dramatic revolution in the way we think about work and the future of corporate learning.

Consider the following changes on the horizon:

  • 56% of companies are retooling their training programs
  • 62% of businesses affected by changes due to COVID-19 are spending more on training in 2021
  • There has been a 16% increase in virtual learning (and a corresponding decrease in instructor-led training)
  • Engagement in remote instruction is still one of the biggest concerns for leadership

Based on these figures and large-scale changes, these are eight of our predictions for eLearning trends in 2021.

1. Continuing monumental adoption of virtual training

No real surprise here, but the numbers are still shocking. In 2017, 77% of companies incorporated some form of virtual training. By 2020, that number jumped to 98%.

2017: 77% of companies had some form of virtual training / 2020: 98% of companies

This jump was made out of necessity in 2020’s shift to a larger remote workforce, but has other side benefits. Those companies with comprehensive training programs (read: well-developed and expertly rolled out) had 218% higher revenues per employee. They also experienced 24% higher profit margins.

If your company relied on legacy in-person or paper-training materials before 2020, you know what it’s like to scramble to build an online platform for training. With more employees wanting to stay remote (see below), the monumental adoption of online training is one of the eLearning trends in 2021 that we will continue for the foreseeable future.

2. A greater need for “training for trainers”

Traditional trainers working in classrooms or delivering lectures aren’t always equipped for success in an online or virtual environment. Delivering training through a screen is a much different experience and it requires a specific skillset. Due to the push for virtual training options, there has been exponential growth in the need for training that helps in-person instructors upskill to virtual environments.

Another set of skills needed? Developing the training itself. It takes a particular touch to design engaging training to be delivered virtually across different platforms. Some companies are finding that their designers need to “go back to school,” too.

3. Content curation and creation tools take center stage

The pace of change across 2020 could be described as “warp speed.”

With so much on-the-fly development and quick changes to safety protocols, training requirements, and work processes, a major corporate learning trend in 2021 will find businesses turning to pre-made training materials.

For example, two content curation tools that stand out include:

  1. PinPoint workforce: Offers a library of pre-built microlearning and performance support content that can be quickly implemented company-wide
  2. Lessonly: Features pre-built trainings tailored to your needs (i.e., sales, customer service, remote work)

Each of these options allow companies to rapidly create training or to rely on tested, crowd-sourced programs.

4. Performance support blurs the lines of training

Performance support will change in 2021 as many people stay remote. This means that microlearning in the flow of work begins to blur the line of sitting down to a traditional training or utilizing training aids to support job performance throughout the day.

Not only does performance support give employees the tools they need to do their job, but it also allows them to share their expertise during their days. Training becomes better than the one-way street it might have been in the past. It focuses on collaboration towards a common goal between different employees, teams, or departments.

Better still, training is fully integrated. It’s not a separate, seemingly unrelated add-on that becomes another thing on the growing to-do list. When used as a support tool, it’s vital and valuable.

5. Mobile-first training, not only mobile-ready

Previously, a minimum standard was that eLearning be “mobile ready.” Most trainings were built with the desktop user in mind and then modified as needed for mobile devices.

In one of the biggest eLearning trends, 2021 sees a reverse of the traditional process of building content for desktop users and then adapting it to mobile. Many courses or programs are building for the mobile experience first and then transitioning to a desktop user experience instead. This upends how we used to think about designing eLearning.

A quality mobile experience is crucial, especially as many workers are still outside the office and taking training at home. This makes it easier for businesses to deliver tools to employees when and where they need them.

6. Greater, richer data sets drive decisions

Better data leads to better decisions

You know the expression, “When you know better, you do better?” Better data leads to better decisions, and many companies are turning to deeper, richer data sets to gain insights into their remote workforces and track different metrics to determine productivity and development.

In one related tool, xAPI can replace the traditional learning management system (LMS) with a learning record store (LRS). The LRS doesn’t just indicate that an employee has finished a training; it can also track exactly what employees did with what they learned. With this tool, managers and leaders can gain insight into what’s working, what needs to be developed further, and which direction to head next.

7. Workplace demands more flexible training

Another big lesson from 2020 that affects eLearning in 2021 is that many people who begrudgingly started working remotely have found that they actually like it and want to continue.

Surveys of workers have found that fully 90% of employees want to continue working from home in at least some capacity. Almost 50% of workers in these same surveys indicated that they want to continue to work remotely for most or all of their time.

The changing workplace means that the future of corporate learning must necessarily become more flexible so employees can take training when they need it.

90% of remote employees want to continue working at home

Some of the eLearning trends in 2021 have been around for years but became vital once the full impact of 2020 hit.

Microlearning

As noted above, microlearning tools make it even easier for employees to quickly reference skills and knowledge they need for their job. You can learn more about the different types of microlearning here.

Video training

Video training, whether synchronous and virtual instructor-led (VILT) or asynchronous and accessed when an employee needs it, is also seeing a resurgence. Synchronous VILT allows employees to work together and problem-solve, too. This builds connections and community that can increase productivity even when working apart.

Virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality training

What used to seem futuristic and only for videogaming is now becoming one of the eLearning trends and predictions that was forecast years ago and is still building up real-world opportunities. Working at home means that in-person, on-the-job training isn’t widely possible. VR, augmented reality (AR), and MR tools allow employees to work through complex simulations or scenarios wherever they are.

Learn more about eLearning in 2021

EdgePoint Learning has been on the cutting-edge of eLearning content for more than a decade. We can help your business meet the eLearning trends of 2021 and create a learning experience that meets your needs and drives company goals.

Get in touch today to see how we can help.

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