September 3rd, 2014 E-Learning

5-waysElearning has evolved quite a bit in the past 10 years. Everything from the way the courses are presented to the images used within them (remember ClipArt?). What constitutes quality elearning design and delivery is as cyclical as the fashion industry. For example, one year drop-shadows were all the rage and the next it is all about flat design.

Trends go beyond the visuals and can also determine how the content is delivered. Bullet points have dominated the elearning scene for a long time (and probably will not be going away anytime soon), but not there are new ways to present information, such as with images.

Below are five emerging elearning trends. If you have any legacy elearning courses, it might be worthwhile to update them with some of these contemporary trends. It is far less expensive to give old training a face-lift than it is to create an entire new course from scratch. It could even lead to higher sanctification ratings since the content won’t appear to be dated.

ELearning Trends We See Today

Courses Focus on the Learner – In the past you could plop your content into a course and publish it. Now there has to be more thought into the user experience, specifically who will be accessing the content and if multiple iterations of the same material need to exist based on the audience.

More Emphasis on Active Learning – In its raw early form, elearning looked a lot like Microsoft PowerPoint wrapped in a pretty package. Today, there is more weight placed on interactive exercises that help drive home key points and objectives. Learners now interact with the content rather than stare at a screen.

Concise Content – Today it is more common to quickly summarize the main points, and in rare cases, add some more context. People are busy and elearning can take a significant amount of time. You ultimately want to convey some key points to your learners, so make sure those are clearly articulated and not bogged down with extra confusing content.

Images Instead of Words – There has been a boom in using images to replace written content in elearning. Think about the number of infographics that are floating around the internet today. There is a reason why people enjoy reading these. They are entertaining and get the main points across without requiring much work to figure out.

Non-linear Course Delivery – When it makes sense, many elearning courses now allow the user to navigate to the content they wish to explore instead of being directed in a linear delivery of the content. This is ideal when the audience is diverse and has varying needs in regards to what they should learn.

SHIFT ELearning

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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With the new tools at our disposal non-linear is getting easier. I’d add adaptive content along with non-linear. It can be a pain to design, but when done right adaptive courses can help reach varied learners.

Avatar Geordie

I completely agree. Adaptive learning is the way forward. I mentioned as well a few years ago but it may be too advanced for WordPress? Would be cool though 🙂

Justin, One of the main criticisms of e-learning is that its still stuck in the page-turning paradigm, and I guess we can largely attribute that to PowerPoint and Articulate. Do you know of any e-learning software that will work with a Prezi presentation? I often wonder if the Prezi ‘drill down’ principle might be a better framework for exploratory, non-linear e-learning. Your thoughts?

Most popular programs leverage PPT to some extent. I think a better place to start is to focus on the PPT template that is being used. Removing the typical Title and footer space on the slide and create a unique design will go a long way.

Not the biggest fan of Prezi, kind of makes me dizzy 🙂

Hey – I was thinking along similar lines yesterday when I wrote the blog post “Our top 4 things which should be in any online course best practice guide” –

1. It’s all about the learning
2. Take into consideration what the learner might already know (or be able to figure out themselves)
3. Benchmark what you do against what others do
4. Provide support

I’d be interest to know what others would include in an “Online Course Best Practice Guide”.

There is much to love about e-learning and a variety of benefits extracted from a technology-aided training initiative. But at the end of the day, it comes to the brass tacks and everybody loves an initiative within the organization if it makes business sense – for learners as well as the stakeholders.

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