Top 3 E-learning Trends for 2020

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Organizations keen on closing their skills gaps need to keep an eye on these emerging e-learning trends.

Man looking at a laptop screen showing two books and a checkmark representing elearning

As a new decade begins, it’s clear that employee learning and development (L&D) is on the mind. According to Gartner, 66% of chief human resources officers (CHROs) and 86% of HR technology leaders say that building critical skills and competencies is one of their top priorities in 2020.

The strategies that companies use to tackle this priority will vary, but leveraging the right training technology has to play a role in all of them. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the latest e-learning trends. The solution to your L&D needs may already be out there.

So what e-learning trends do you need to be aware of in 2020? Here are the top three.

3 most important e-learning trends for 2020

  1. Personalized learning lowers the barrier to L&D entry
  2. Peer-to-peer learning takes off
  3. The debut of voice of the learner (VoL)

Interested to know what’s going to be trending in HR not just this year, but this decade? We got you covered.

Trend #1: Personalized learning lowers the barrier to L&D entry

 Prediction: One-third of e-learning courses consumed by employees in 2020 will be delivered through a recommendation engine powered by AI and machine learning. 

How do we get employees to do more development on their own? It’s the age-old question, and one that learning technology hasn’t provided a great answer for.

Gamifying courses has moved things in the right direction, as has giving workers access to a library of optional MOOCs (massive open online courses) for them to complete when and how they want.

But the barrier to entry remains high, especially for burned-out workers who can’t spare the time or energy to look through a large catalog to find the courses that best fit their skills needs and interests. Something else is needed to give employees the motivation to learn.

That “something else” is a course recommendation engine, not unlike the one you can find on Amazon that suggests similar items based on your purchase history. Leveraging AI and machine learning, these course recommendation engines can take a learner’s data (their skill needs, previously completed courses, etc.) and deliver them the courses that they’re most likely to consume. They can even reference usage data from coworkers.

Over time, as workers complete more courses, the recommendations improve.

An example of personalized learning recommendations leveraging AI.

An example of personalized learning recommendations in SAP SuccessFactors (Source)

Being implemented in more and more learning platforms, this method of personalized learning—as opposed to traditional manager-driven learning paths that employees have little control over—puts more relevant courses in front of more learners.

Trend #2: Peer-to-peer learning takes off

 Prediction: 50% of soft skills development at organizations in 2020 will be through learning content created by coworkers and peers. 

Everyone’s aware of the ever-widening skills gap, but it’s not hard skills like coding or welding that employees are lacking. It’s the soft stuff. LinkedIn found that the most in-demand skills that companies tried to cultivate in 2019 were creativity, persuasion, and analytical reasoning.

Workers have long relied on their peers to help them develop these important soft skills—second only to their boss. The only problem is this kind of learning is often infrequent, informal, and can’t be scaled or repurposed.

Learning platforms can help by giving workers tools and templates to easily turn their knowledge into organizational e-learning. Anyone in the company can quickly shoot a video or create a course and share it on the learning platform to distill what they know and share it with their peers.

The reverse is also true; These platforms allow employees to demonstrate what they’ve learned, and send it to the subject matter experts (SMEs) in their company for them to assess how that employee is progressing. Employees can then use SME feedback to grow even further.

A peer assessment of an employee's video-based training assignment.

A peer-to-peer video assessment in Bridge (Source)

In 2020, the companies that are able to package and scale this kind of peer-to-peer learning will make the greatest strides in closing their soft skills gap. As an added benefit, they’ll save a ton of time and money on training content creation.

Trend #3: The debut of voice of the learner (VoL)

 Prediction: 10% of companies will launch voice of the learner (VoL) initiatives in 2020 to capture and analyze all forms of learner feedback.  

With only 13% of employees being largely satisfied with their work experiences, the employee experience—and thus the learner experience—are huge priorities in 2020. But in order to make strides in these areas, organizations need data. Lots of data.

Learning management system (LMS) data gives you the bare bones of the learner experience, things like course completion rates, course ratings, and assessment scores. Integrating employee performance data gives you insight into how the learner experience is affecting actual work.

But these datasets only scratch the surface of the amount of impactful insights that organizations have at their disposal. Think about all of the ways that employees can give feedback on their learner experience:

Many companies already collect and fold in these indirect and inferred forms of feedback from customers through an initiative called “voice of the customer” (VoC). Some are even starting to duplicate this process internally to measure the “voice of the employee” (VoE). Gartner estimates that 35% of organizations with more than 5,000 employees will have VoE initiatives by 2022 (full research available to Gartner clients).

An example of a learning analytics dashboard.

A learning analytics dashboard in Zoola Analytics. (Source)

“Voice of the learner” (VoL) is the next logical step as companies prioritize improving their learner experience. Leveraging a combination of learner platforms, survey tools, social listening software, and analytics capabilities, companies that utilize VoL will get the real story on where their training program is working, and where it still needs to improve.

Bookmark Capterra to stay in the know on the latest in e-learning

Did I nail it? Am I complete off-base? If you have an opinion, let me know in the comments below, or tweet at me @GDMBrian.

Then be sure to visit (and bookmark) our training technology blog to stay on top of all the latest e-learning developments happening this year, and beyond.

Looking for Training software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Training software solutions.

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About the Author

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Brian Westfall

Brian Westfall is a Senior HR and Talent Management Analyst for Capterra. His research has been cited in various publications, including TIME, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Undercover Recruiter.

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