eLearning Trends 2021

The 8 key eLearning trends in 2021

Magda Lehnert eLearning basics, eLearning trends

Reading time: 5 minutes
Web based learning, Learning Management Systems, collaborative learning, the surge in MOOCs… eLearning, too, is changing and modernizing rapidly. We take a look at what’s already possible today, the training trends you should definitely have on your radar in 2021, and how AI will influence the future of digital learning. 

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The 8 key eLearning trends in 2021

eLearning trend #1: Adaptive learning - artificial intelligence in eLearning

You've probably long since become accustomed to the idea that some algorithm or other knows what book you like reading, what music you listen to on Spotify, or what series you want to watch next on Netflix. eLearning works in a very similar way: an algorithm makes a course recommendation based on experience. "If you have taken course X, you will no doubt be interested in course Y." In the future, though, artificial intelligence will be capable of much more, the intention being for it to then be possible to transfer adaptivity to the content level as well. So instead of just making a recommendation, AI could take into account different environments, times of day and learning types, and output content on that basis. An auditory learner type would hear their learning units as an audio file, while a visual learner would get to read a well-structured text with graphics. For learners in a café, a learning unit would be divided into several smaller ones (buzzword: micro learning), whereas in the home network it would be output in full length. A trend & game changer we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on for you!

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eLearning trend #2: Micro learning - snacks for your brain

Micro learning is about breaking down the total sum of knowledge into as many small learning units as possible. We tend to refer to this as "snackable content", because the teaching content comes in small, easily digestible bites - for example, in the form of short 5 to 10-minute videos, quizzes with 5-6 questions, or classical learning units that take no longer than 10 minutes. By this means, you avoid overwhelming the learners and at the same time bolster the long-term learning effect if you offer the learning tidbits regularly and at short intervals. This method can be excellently combined with classical eLearning and mobile learning and is also particularly suitable if your employees regularly work from home rather than coming into the office every day.

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eLearning trend #3: Mobile learning - unrivaled flexibility

Mobile learning brings maximum flexibility! Instead of learning on a stationary PC, mobile learning involves learning on a mobile device. This makes learning even more independent of time and place than is already the case with "classical" eLearning. With the right software, you don't have to choose between a PC and a smartphone. With a fully responsive display, mobile learning can also be used as an extension - for example, to make use of "idle time" such as the morning train journey to work, or to specifically relocate the transmission of knowledge to selected environments.

Read more: Mobile learning for companies
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eLearning trend #4: Social learning - strength in togetherness

The most frequently cited disadvantage of eLearning remains the loss of personal exchange - after all, as humans we are first and foremost social beings. However, for years now, the Internet has known the solution for virtual real-time communication: social networks, messenger services, video chats. Social learning utilizes these technologies, connecting learners and offering them opportunities for interaction. By integrating social learning, you add an important component of the so-called 70/20/10 rule to your existing eLearning. This states that we absorb

  • 70% of our knowledge through learning by doing,
  • 20% through interaction with others, and
  • 10% through structured and formal learning.

Millennials, in particular, find it easy to integrate social learning in virtual networks into their everyday learning due to their social media affinity. Social learning is also worthwhile from an entrepreneurial point of view: learning together promotes team spirit!

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eLearning trend #5: Video learning - the efficiency of multisensory technology

The proliferation of mobile devices, advances in camera technology and, not least, the imminent expansion of 5G networks have long been paving the way for the video trend. It's not without reason that all social media trends revolve around moving images: YouTube, TikTok, Instagram Stories... if you want to get in on the act, you have to film. Needless to say, this trend doesn't stop at eLearning. Creating video content is often not only more efficient than creating text-based presentations, but is also popular with learners. Moving images are easier to consume than text and appeal equally to auditory and visual learners. These characteristics make videos, along with VR and gamification, the most easy to remember medium currently known to eLearning.

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eLearning trend #6: Gamification - makes learning child’s play

As a rule, learning requires motivation - it's not for nothing that back in your schooldays you used to have to conquer your weaker self before knuckling down to learning. So how would it be if there were a learning method that made learning so easy it hardly needed any motivation? The answer lies in our innate urge to play. Gamification takes advantage of this and transfers game mechanisms to non-game contexts. In addition to the actual game, points, rankings and feedback mechanisms motivate the learner to engage with the learning material. At the same time, hands-on activity, fun and emotions increase the learning curve. And if attractive rewards are then positioned in the right places, nothing more stands in the way of achieving learning success!

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eLearning trend #7: Blended learning - a symphony of analog and digital learning

Blended learning combines the advantages of analog face-to-face events with the flexibility of digital learning. But that doesn’t mean digitally repeating the content of the analog event. What it’s about is dividing up all the learning content in such a way that there’s more time in the face-to-face events for practical content requiring personal support from teachers or presence in specific rooms. This not only makes learning more efficient for everyone involved, but also offers more flexibility in terms of time and location when it comes to learning theoretical content. Of course, it’s up to you whether the online courses take place before or after the face-to-face event.

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eLearning trend #8: Learning ecosystems - the power of connection

In ecology, an ecosystem is a community of organisms of different species that all share a common habitat. If we transfer this idea to learning, the result is an image of learning islands that are connected to form a common group of islands. Each island functions as an independent source of knowledge, while a higher-level Learning Management System ensures that the individual sources with all their data and workflows are connected via bridges. An intelligent LMS ensures that the system itself recedes into the background for the learners, enabling the learning experience to take center stage. So instead of having to constantly access other knowledge sources, learners use a platform in which the various formats are prepared in a clear and uniform way.

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