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10 Instructional Design Trends for Online Training - eLearning Course Improvement Tips

eLearning is here to stay!

Its benefits have significantly outweighed face-to-face training from the early days until now. Technology and rapid growth have made eLearning flexible, time-saving, and cost-effective training.

Companies have adopted e-learning as a more flexible and effective way to train their employees.

However, we are far from reaching an upper limit. The current and future trends in e-learning prove that it is a field for continuous innovation.

This article is for instructional designers and online course creators to help them improve eLearning course design consistent with the current trends in the eLearning industry.

Keeping up with the latest eLearning trends can challenge even the most dedicated instructional designer, eLearning course developer, or learning experience developer.

The significance of course design cannot be overestimated. First impressions are crucial when learners begin an eLearning course—from these first impressions in the first few minutes of viewing an eLearning course.

 

1. Curriculum as a Community

"In an online course, real engagement involves becoming a part of the community."

In a learning community, the goal is to advance collective knowledge and, in that way, to support the growth of personal knowledge.

The defining quality of a learning community is the presence of a culture of learning in which everyone is involved in a collective effort of understanding.

This is where the curriculum as a community is based. Learners are engaged not only with the content but with each other.

 A community in online courses provokes the learners to participate and learn together. Learning is a social activity by itself.

We learn through contact and discourse with other more competent person in the field. Online collaborative learning engages learners in higher-order thinking skills.

In an online learning platform, we need to look for is built-in social network page where we can empower our active community and allow learners to bond and be actively involved in the course. Most learning platforms offer this feature.

 

2. Content Curation

"Learners find it difficult to learn with too much content."

To avoid this, there's always a need for content curation in eLearning, as this helps impact online training in many ways.

Content curation in eLearning is collecting and filtering relevant information about a particular subject matter and presenting it in an organized way.

The process benefits our learners, as it helps save them time from reading through irrelevant information to get what they need.

To achieve optimal content delivery, we must adopt a plan to design a course. We are talking about instructional design – the systematic development of instructional material using instructional theory.

It is the process of analyzing learning goals and adapting specific learning strategies and methods to achieve those goals and ensure the quality of instruction. 

Poppy Hill, a talent development, e-learning expert, and Certified Performance Improvement expert (CPT), founder of Polygon performance, emphasizes storytelling to make your content engaging.

People are evolutionarily hardwired for stories. Storytelling and e-learning are a natural pair.

 

3. The Instructional Designer

 "Technology comes and goes."

Our attention to clarity and quality when producing learning materials is constant. - David Hopkins, an experienced leader, and manager of learning design and learning technology, author, blogger, Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT), and Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (FHEA)

And who is responsible for the clarity and quality of the learning material The instructional designer.

This person is from translating original content to the appropriate adoption and use of the technology to deliver the training, which is more important than everything.

 

AN INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNER:

  • Organizes the learning content

  • Decides over the learning objectives

  • Simplifies the learning content

  • Designs from the learners' point of view

  • Makes the learning experience fun and engaging

  • Keeps communication with learners and a lot more

For David, "the individual must become the focus of the learning experience, not the technology delivering it." Technology – in the form of the learning platform – still has a part to play, but the focus is on using this technology to support the creation of learning materials.

 

This picture depicts the severity of the roles of an instructional designer:

Source: So What Do You Really Mean By 'Instructional Designer?

"Interactive videos help learners visualize the unexplained."
 

One of the best forms of multimedia to use in eLearning course development is an interactive video.

Our learners likely spend hours each day streaming content on YouTube, Twitch, Netflix, Hulu, and other popular video delivery platforms. This trend can also carry over into the world of instructional design.

Video has always been a trend in e-learning, and it will continue to be among the future trends.

They have been scientifically proven to increase learner engagement and participation, thus maximizing knowledge retention and the ability to visualize the "unexplained": Interactivity in videos can be considered a major influencing factor in learning success because it transforms passive watchers into active learners. Be sure to utilize not only videos but also text, images, audio files, gifs, and other forms of animation in your eLearning courses.

Watch this video to learn more about creating eLearning Videos in Instructional Design.

 

5. Microlearning

"Long modules are boring for learners." 

Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. The term is used in eLearning and related fields in learning processes in mediated environments.

Microlearning is a holistic approach to skill-based learning and education that deals with relatively small learning units. It refers to small bite-sized chunks of information that aim to teach specific skills.

Means of microlearning can be texts, images, videos, audio, tests, quizzes, games, or a combination of them.

Microlearning is less time-consuming and cheaper to produce and is surprisingly effective for corporate and commercial training.

Personalized and bite-sized courses are ubiquitously easy to read. In addition, smaller courses with interactive elements appeal to all different types of workers. 

 

6. Mobile-Friendly Online Course Platforms

"Online learning access is totally seamless."

It's no surprise that our learners are all but glued to their smartphones (and to be honest, we're guessing you are too). By 2025, it's expected that 72% of the world's internet users will only access the web via a smartphone.

Following the trend of meeting learners where they are, mobile learning allows users to access courses from their chosen endpoint.

It's another example of how instructional design has adapted to fit the modern lifestyle and work schedule. 

With mobile learning, users can access courses from home, in transit, or outside regular working hours.

Savvy instructional designers can also ensure the way they deploy these courses is more "native" to the mobile experience and similar in design to other apps that employees use every day.

Mobile learning experiences designed for on-the-go use can help learners stay engaged no matter where they're located.

It's more important than ever to make our courses accessible to all so that they can watch them from anywhere and anytime.

Apart from computers, it should be made available for mobile phones, tablets, or any other device that learners are using.

 

7. Measurement and Analytics

"Only data can speak by themselves."

It can sometimes be challenging to know whether the activity or technology is making a difference with these instructional design trends.

Luckily, the rise of data and analytics in education has enabled professors and L&D professionals to measure and learn from learner performance.

Using digital course materials backed up with engagement data can provide you with the insights needed to make positive change.

By surveying learners at the end of the course and analyzing their performance data, we can evaluate what is working well and what has room for improvement.

With Learning Analytics, instructors view learners' feedback in questionnaires and assignments and see the video engagement – in short – how learners perform in general.

This data shows how much time each learner engages with each activity and helps instructional designers optimize courses.

 

8. Gamification

 "Games add fun to work." 

A significant challenge for an instructional designer with such an impatient and distracted workforce is learner engagement.

Most people are used to doing mandatory compliance training in one form or another. But learning and development teams often struggle to ensure employees take advantage of other learning opportunities available to them.

Gamification is when a game design is applied to traditionally "non-game" activities, such as learning.

Game elements can include rounds, stages or levels, simulations, the collection of valuable items, the gaining of points, winning or losing, or a race against the clock.

Not all of these elements need to make it into the instructional design of a course. However, the intelligent L&D leader can supercharge the learning experience by incorporating gamification elements when it makes sense. 

Check out this article to learn more on How to Apply Gamification to Your Online Course.

 

9. Interactive Learning

"Interactivity helps improves Learners' Retention."

Interactive online learning entails going beyond the passive one-way nodes of reading, listening, and watching static content.

It includes pulling out the exact content you want and manipulating it rather than waiting for information and digesting it.

Interactive online learning doesn't happen by accident. It's a result of a systematic, planned development process. There are specific patterns in which people process information.

Before creating an eLearning course, an expert also needs to be aware of the principles of online learning. 

Interactive activities have a way of creating curiosity among learners. The good side of this experience is that it can lead to active knowledge acquisition.

That said, for us to develop interactive training content that'll help and improve our learners' retention ability, here are some of the elements that we should  incorporate into our course:

  • Scenario and simulation-based elements

  • Multimedia elements, such as video

  • Gamified elements

  • Stories

  • Quizzes  and Assessments

     

10. New Learning Realities

"AI, AR, VR, MR, and VUIs, the future of eLearning." 

Voice is changing the way that we interact with our devices. Think about the last time you asked Siri, Alexa, or Google for directions or asked a general knowledge question. Nowadays, voice user interfaces (VUI's) are all around us, from our phones and smartwatches to our computers, laptops, TVs, and cars.

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) allow learners to use a voice or speech commands system. It's readily accessible through smartphones, VUIs will enable us to give commands t  computers, eyes, and hands-free users can easily interact with a product.

Despite being often used in tandem, AR and VR are not interchangeable. Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are based on different technologies, have other use cases, and serve different market objectives.

In short, VR uses opaque headsets to block off the surrounding world and create immersive virtual reality experiences. At the same time, AR overlays digital elements over the live view to create an augmented experience while allowing the users to see the natural world around them.

 
4 Practical Ways of Using AR and VR in eLearning

1. Enhanced online training simulations
2. Immersive gamification in an eLearning course
3. Customized learning paths in web-based courses
4. Learning assessments with visual feedback5. Advanced learning analytics in online training

 

Conclusion

With the e-learning trends we highlighted here, signs are clear that the e-learning industry will only grow stronger in the coming years. s technology develops, these trends will get better and better.

Trends come and go, but the e-learning trends seem to maintain a specific route: 

Learner-centered, personalized, accessible, and engaging e-learning.

 

If you would like to learn more tips on how to improve your online course, be sure to check the following articles:

 Instructional designers must design an eLearning course that is:

Learner-Centered

Personalized

Accessible

Engaging

This can only be done through the technology trends that were discussed in this article.

JOIN the eLearning and Instructional Design for Beginners Mastermind, and start a new career as an instructional designer. Learn to apply the instructional design trends to create an eLearning course that is Learner-centered, personalized, accessible, and engaging, only in the Instructional Design for Beginners Mastermind.

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