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10 L&D trends for 2018 - A glimpse into the future

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

It’s 2018. Planning season is open for most corporations and it is now time to look back at previous performance and start drafting new business resolutions. Figures, projections and org charts are thrown into the mix in preparation for the new game plan.

To most businesses, the human capital is still the most valuable asset and the key to achieving the projected business goals. So, what’s the plan for our people? How can we better prepare our teams to outstandingly perform in a highly competitive environment?

Training has always been the answer. Moreover, better training is by far the better answer. For decades, learning and technology have walked hand-in-hand, so as technological innovations accelerate so does corporate training challenges and demands.

The learner is also moving towards a highly competitive arena where training is becoming survival tool in the business jungle.

Philippe Riveron and theLearning Tribes have compiled our insights on the top 10 learning trends impacting the corporate learning ecosystem. This analysis is the result of a collaborative approach from our multidisciplinary teams around the world; instructional designers, psychologist, digital designers, business developers, project managers and IT working together. To keep the collaborative ball rolling, we invite you to pick your favorite trend and comment on it

1.    Universal

In all industries, the rise of automation will result in both the decrease of low-value activities and the increase of multitasking by associates who will have to work on many different topics and eventually become a ‘universal employee’. It is a big challenge for the L&D departments who must redesign their New Hire Training as well as their continued education programs and prepare employees for new sets of skills and capabilities.

Simultaneously, instructional designers and trainers are asked to design and deliver blended learning paths, for which they need to master every modality (ILT and digital learning) which will also make them universal trainers!

2.    Learner-Centric

Thanks to the various modalities available in training, we can definitely build a learner-centric journey. Instead of thinking about the content first, we think about the learner first: performance, experience, workplace, digital fluency…then, we can create an effective training with more collaboration and social activities in order to share experiences. Learners are smart and through an effective training, we recognize that intelligence.

The 70:20:10 concept is really powerful to create a learning-centric approach. A video on Youtube, a classroom training, a Mooc, an experienced Lab, a post shared on Workplace, all these elements turn into learning content.

3.    Immersive

Who has not seen a VR headset on every L&D tradeshow has clearly missed the fashion trend of VR or AR. Every day, there is an article demonstrating the power of VR. There is no doubt about it, immersing a learner into a real situation is a great way to stimulate emotions and visualize what could happen in real life.

Real VR is expensive to create and L&D departments need to find other applications for it in order to ensure a good ROI. For instance, we strongly believe in AR and 360° video elements because they allow multiple media content, learner interaction, and assessments. When introducing a new concept, a new product or training people far away from the workplace (offshore call center for retail stores for example) VR, AR and Interactive 360 videos are some applications for an efficient immersive training. 

4.    The Ecosystem


Because content must be improved and updated daily, every L&D department cannot master all modalities and technologies, for this reason, they must create and cultivate a powerful partner network. For instance, an LMS can integrate xAPI in order to import new features that are not necessarily provided by their vendor. Investments in training companies are huge nowadays, we can see startups or traditional training companies raising money to develop a specific training tool or a catalog of courses. The learning ecosystem has never been so dynamic in terms of content or tools.

Content curation will be key for every L&D manager, trying to find the best partners will be a full-time job and we believe he or she has to be at the center of the new ecosystem.

5.    ATAWAD : Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device

The power of digital and mobile access allows continuous accessibility of training applications. The learner is now freed from the constraints of time, place and materials. Thus, he or she can use their training at the most convenient time during their workday. Moreover, the learner can also choose to work on his own or on the contrary, gather with colleagues to work on a particular sequence. In terms of design, this means that content must be shorter, subtitled, and responsive to suit all digital formats.

6.    Blended

Blended learning is a lasting trend and a deep conviction from most instructional designers. The concept of spaced learning, namely to build training courses allowing assimilation of skills thanks to a spacing of sequences, found an ally in blended learning. We blend learning methodologies according to the pedagogical objectives: video, e-learning, coaching, virtual class, virtual reality, TEDx conference, etc.

Thanks to the new learning platforms, it has never been this easy to build blended courses and present them in a coherent way and tuned to the learner's interest.

7.    Customized

One size doesn’t fit all! The on-the-shelf training is doomed to disappear ... it can make you smile or cry, but we believe that e-learning catalog providers have more of a dark future.

Learners are requiring more adapted content based on identifiers like their experience, performance, company background, work environment, country of origin, or culture. Also, content on the web has never been so rich, everyone learns informally without waiting for a shelf content imposed by their company. Businesses must prepare their employees to evolve quickly in a dynamic economic, technological and social context. What will then differentiate one company from another?

We believe that the values and culture passed on through personalized training in the field of management, customer relations, communication will be a key differentiating factor... Today, we personalize the relationship with the customer so that it becomes memorable and potentially establishes an attachment to the brand. When buying a new car, we pick many options to have a unique car. Why can’t employees get a unique training?

8.    ROI

The Kirk Patrick's model1 is still relevant, and the increasingly digital assessment tools available for trainers in order to evaluate the efficiency of a training are more and more valuable.
In addition, the assessment of skills can be gamified which makes it more playful and engaging. The test results and the impact of a training session can be clearly defined in advance and therefore, easier to qualify at the end. Finally, the evaluation of ROI (costs vs. gains or savings) can be analyzed using the particular performance indicators (KPI) for each employee.

9.    Emotion

To make the learning process enjoyable and effective, it must provoke emotions. Storytelling will continue to be used to create a proximity between the content and the learner, allowing them to identify themselves with the story and enroll in action.

Humor remains a powerful tool, bringing people together and encouraging memorization, which leads the best trainers and digital content to integrate more humorous sequences into their training. Since humor is not an innate talent for all trainers, instructional designers must incorporate these positive breathers into the learning journeys.

10. AI

A futurist thinker announced in 2016 that the largest company in the world will be a training company. Indeed AI is infiltrating our lives at an unprecedented speed, accelerating the need to provide the employee with much smarter tools. All daily tasks will be greatly disrupted and training will become essential in order for employees to maintain and retain their jobs, incorporate new intelligence and interact with others. Interpersonal communication will become a high-value-added skill.

These new social phenomena affect the heart of training in a greater way as AI will deeply disturb the traditional trainer role by requiring him/her to build training truly adapted to each individual. For instance, the first experiments of chatbots in training have appeared and their applications can be leveraged either prior to the training to challenge learners to prepare for it or post-training to complete it.


These are 10 out of many trends that define the corporate learning ecosystem. Was there any particular trend that called your attention? Do you have a different view or perspective regarding any of the trends? Would you like more information any of these points? We look forward to your comments and opinion.


1 The Kirkpatrick Model is the worldwide standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training. It considers the value of any type of training, formal or informal, across four levels. Reaction, Learning, Behavior & Results.



Philippe Riveron is Founder and CEO of Learning Tribes, an international learning & development organization dedicated to delivering customized and innovative training solutions engineered to develop talent and empower employees to achieve their professional development goals.

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Interesting read and is resonating with the annual reports of this year in learning.
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Interesting read and is resonating with the annual reports of this year in learning.
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