The workplace environment is changing rapidly as business practices change along with the structures of organisations. E-learning has to change to reflect this if it is to remain useful. Here are five aspects of e-learning which are changing and where accepted practices are disappearing.
Courses vs custom learning – Whereas many organisations have developed libraries of courses which reside in their learning management system, there is a growing trend for smaller chunks of content focusing narrowly on a specific topic. General courses are becoming less useful as learners can acquire this knowledge anywhere, but they do need training on specialist or technical topics. The future challenge will be to develop, manage and integrate large volumes of short courses, some of which may be relevant for a very short period of time.
Transitory workforce – Organisations are used to developing their learning for employees with a defined status. The changing nature of organisations with fewer permanent employees and greater use of temporary and seasonal staff, zero-hour contracts, agents and franchisees requires content that can be used by individuals of any employment status.
Adaptive learning – Choice has been a watchword for decades, but a vast choice of learning options can overwhelm employees. Simply giving employees a choice of learning does not result in them taking action to develop their careers. Leaving them to ‘get on with it’ is no longer an option and adaptive learning practices are required to analyse an individual’s performance, skills levels and aspirations and use the data to create or recommend content that suits them.
Freedom from devices – Learning has evolved from classrooms to desktop PCs to mobile devices, but technology is now freeing us from devices. The Internet of Things (IoT), intelligent personal assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, and similar technologies don’t require a PC or smartphone. E-learning has to move away from screens and into the new always-connected ecosystem where a learner will ask to learn about a topic in their living room, office or car and expect content to be delivered immediately through whatever medium is available.
Immersive learning – Generations to come will not understand the term ‘read the manual’. While PDF reference documents have been the mainstay of technical education for decades, virtual reality will bring learning to life by immersing students in simulations of real-life situations. Academic learning of many topics will cease as virtual reality technology provides practical experience.