Member Login

The Future of eLearning - New tech: AI, AR, VR, & MR


eLearning! What does the future have in store for you??


eLearning has drastically changed the landscape of education, with online learning first emerging in 1982.

This year, the Western Behavioural Sciences Institute in California delivered its first ‘distance education’ program. Business executives progressed through the course via computer conferencing. From there, online learning saw steady growth in the education space. Eventually, in November 1999, educational technology expert Elliott Masie coined the term ‘E-Learning.’ 

From then on, there was no looking back. Throughout the early 2000s, the corporate world joined educational institutions in embracing online learning to remove geographical barriers to training and reduce costs. Technology has revolutionized everything, and education and training are no exception. With future updates and upgrades, it's likely to develop and become more convenient for learners.

New methods introduced by instructional designers and course creators will make online courses more exciting and engaging for learners.Today, organizations are adapting to eLearning courses to train their employees. So with all the hype and effort combined, the future of eLearning is very unlikely to be bleak.


The following infographic sums up the history of eLearning:


Access the PDF



Isaac Pitman taught his pupils shorthand via correspondence. This form of symbolic writing was designed to improve writing speed and was popular amongst secretaries, journalists, and other individuals who did many note-taking or writing.
Pitman, a qualified teacher, was sent completed assignments by mail, and he would then send his students more work to be finished using the same system. 


In 1924, Ohio State University professor Sidney Pressey invented the “Automatic Teacher,” the first device in electronic learning. The Automatic Teacher” was designed to let students drill and test themselves. However, this first try wasn’t successful.



In 1954, Harvard Professor BF Skinner created the “Teaching Machine” for use in schools. The teaching machine was a mechanical device whose purpose was to administer a curriculum of programmed instruction.



In 1960, PLATO – Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations – Was the first computer-based training program (CBT). Initially, it was built by the University of Illinois and functioned for four decades, offering coursework (elementary–university) to UIUC students, local schools, and other universities.

It was originally designed for students attending the University of Illinois but ended up being used in schools throughout the area.



The first online learning systems were only set up to deliver information to students but as we entered the 70s online learning started to become more interactive. In Britain, the Open University was keen to take advantage of eLearning.

Their education system has always been primarily focused on learning at a distance. In the past, course materials were delivered by post, and correspondence with tutors was via mail.

With the internet, the Open University began to offer a broader range of interactive educational experiences and faster correspondence with students via email, etc.



The first MAC enabled individuals to have computers in their homes, making learning about particular subjects and developing specific skill sets more accessible.

Then, in the following decade, virtual learning environments began to truly thrive, with people gaining access to a wealth of online information and eLearning opportunities.



Several schools had been set up to deliver courses online only, making the most of the internet and bringing education to people who wouldn’t previously have been able to attend a college due to geographical or time constraints.
Technological advancements also helped educational establishments reduce the costs of distance learning, a saving that would also be passed on to the students – helping bring education to a broader audience.


In the 2000′s, businesses began using eLearning to train their employees. New and experienced workers alike now had the opportunity to improve their industry knowledge base and expand their skill sets.
At home, individuals were granted access to programs that offered them the ability to earn online degrees and enrich their lives through expanded knowledge.



A Look into the Future


There is now a trend toward greater acceptance of different forms of learning in the workplace. Thus, the work of some instructional designers and online course creators is changing rapidly.

Along with creating structured courses, instructional designers and online course creators will have to make learning possible by creating favorable environments.

This might include online society management, encouraging association, and discussion through social media technologies. Organizing material and teaching experts how to bring about and share their material might also be a part of the process.


New Tech: AI, AR, MR, and VR


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence is exploding. In a study from the Economist, 75% of the surveyed executives had plans to “actively implement” AI over the next three years.

Chatbots have already become helpful in customer service and other fields where people need quick answers.

Now, it’s going one step further with AI tutors. In addition to answering questions, they can direct workers to resources and suggest content based on weaknesses in a learner’s progress. This helps struggling learners get extra help.


Virtual Reality (VR)


Virtual reality takes place in an entirely digital environment. What may seem like a gimmicky or flashy attention grabber has grown into a serious market.

According to a paper from ReportsnReports, virtual reality was valued at over $6 billion in 2020 and will grow to over $20 billion by 2025.

With companies widely spread out, providing in-person, on-the-job training in person isn’t always an option.

Virtual reality allows learners to get hands-on experience, move through scenarios and provide extra assistance for employees with different learning styles, such as kinesthetic.


Augmented Reality (AR)


Like virtual reality, augmented reality can project dimensions that aren’t there in the real world. Instead of a fully digital environment, augmented reality is accessed through a device.

The Snapchat and Facebook filters that give users dog ears, for example, are augmented reality. Pokémon GO is another example of an enormous application of augmented reality.

Anyone can project images through their smartphones, tablets, or other devices, and the market is growing fast.

One study from Market Reports World found that the global AR market would grow to over $70 billion by 2024.


Mixed Reality (MR)


Mixed reality uses a mixture of entirely virtual methods and learning that exists in the real world.

Mixed reality describes the different techniques blended into one course or session. For example, someone could create an exhibit at a museum or a conference on mixed reality.

There might be pamphlets, displays, or other in-person elements in the real world. They could also provide a VR tour of a location or enhance their physical visuals with virtual reality.



The future may be called hyperreality—a balanced mix of AI, AR, VR, and MR. One exciting innovation that eLearning course creators and instructional designers can apply in designing courses will capture learners' attention and improve retention and motivation.

New technologies come with many unknowns, creating a need for establishing best practices, standards, and design patterns. It’s assumed that this is why instructional designers and eLearning course creators will have long-term job security in the coming years.


Technology is here to stay! Instructional designers and course creators should grab the opportunity to use it to design courses and training that will benefit today's learners for a bright future for all of us.



eLearning and Instructional Design for Beginners Community 

  • In-depth courses & training
    Access my rapidly growing library, attend monthly live training & accountability support groups
  • Exclusive tools & members-only discounts

    Tools, templates, downloads, checklists and more - plus receive special perks & discounts

  • Supportive community & network
    Feedback and support from fellow instructional designers, career-driven business owners, and experts who will keep you on track

Get Your Software Toolkit for Instructional Designers

Tools & processes that will help you plan, build, and grow your instructional design career and freelance business.

5 Steps to Implement Scenario-Based Learning

Top 7 In-Demand Skills of a Successful Instructional Designer

Why You Should Surround Yourself With Successful People

How To Set 90-day Goals For Freelance Instructional Design Success