Community Content

E-Learning Trends in 2020

Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2020

In December 2019, I began working on my e-book and this article on e-learning trends in 2020. This is ninth entry in the series of posts and e-books about e-learning trends in the past three years.

To distinguish this release from other offerings, I was mulling over the approach I could use to thread together various trends, and I came up with three important aspects:

· Look at various trends from the lens of how relevant they are for learners, businesses, and L&D teams.

· Evaluate how well they align to meet the expectations of each of the stakeholders.

· Assess how they align to what we see as the workplace learning in the future.

With this backdrop, here is my list of e-learning trends in 2020. I believe these will be an integral part of workplace learning for the near future.

E-Learning Trends in 2020

Given the large number of trends, I have grouped them into three sections.

· E-learning trends in 2020 that will help you achieve high learner engagement, performance gain, and behavioral change are:

· mobile learning

· mobile apps for learning

· personalized learning

· digitization of ILT to blended or fully online learning

· performance support tools

· informal learning

· social learning

· self-directed learning.

· E-learning trends featuring learning strategies that deliver high impact and immersive learning experiences are:
· microlearning

· gamification

· video-based learning (videos and interactive videos)

· AR/VR and MR or immersive

· curation and user-generated content.

· Trends that will help you assess the impact and aid you in maximizing the ROI are:

· learning experience platforms (LXPs)

· learner analytics

· artificial intelligence (AI) in learning.

Let’s take a look at each one.

Section 1: E-Learning Trends in 2020 That Will Help You Achieve High Learner Engagement, Performance Gain, and Behavioral Change

Mobile Learning

The term e-learning is being replaced by mobile learning as more organizations use this approach as the significant mode for training delivery. Accelerated by what learners ask for as well as with the wider adoption of microlearning and video-based learning, this trend continues to be on top.

Loved by learners, businesses, and L&D teams alike, mobile learning will continue to be the dominant mode for online training delivery and to supplement facilitated or instructor-led training (ILT).

You can use it to meet the entire spectrum of your training needs, including:

· formal training

· instant/just-in-time learning aids

· informal learning

· self-directed learning

· social or collaborative learning.

This must-have trend will continue to see accelerated adoption in 2020.

Mobile Apps for Learning

Mobile apps for corporate training provide learners the flexibility to learn anywhere and anytime. They can be used to offer formal and informal learning. In fact, they can also be used to digitalize facilitated training or ILT.

Microlearning and gamification techniques can be used effectively to offer gamified learning featuring a series of microlearning nuggets and can be easily personalized (based on the learner’s role, region, proficiency, or interest).

Here are some insights into these techniques:

· As a series of microlearning nuggets, they can be used to offer formal training.

· Their real impact can be felt when they are used to offer performance support tools to provide the required on-the-job support.

· Mobile apps can be easily updated and quickly deployed, and you can easily push relevant notifications to the learners.

· You can also personalize the assets for each learner (based on pre-tests or surveys).

With reducing costs and lower development time, mobile apps for learning are worth the investment in 2020.

Personalized Learning

This is the next big trend (after mobile learning and microlearning) to invest on. My assessment is that over the next two years, this will emerge as the “new normal” in workplace learning.

· Learners see value in personalized learning on account of the highly relevant, custom content it offers. This customized journey can be drawn on their current knowledge, interest, future needs, or simple cues like role/region. It gives them complete control on what they want to learn, how they want to learn, and at the pace that works best for them.

· It enables L&D teams to align the learners to business goals, upskill, or reskill them far more effectively as compared to generic training. It also fosters a culture of continuous and Self-Directed Learning.

You can use personalized learning for employee training needs at various levels to:

1. Leverage instant or just-in-time learning aids/job aids within the learners’ workflow.

2. Practice and hone skills to manage the current job better.

3. Developing specific skills that align to the business goals.

4. Discover new skills and grow in the organization.

5. Gain leadership skills.


Personalized learning is an approach that will positively affect your ROI and is absolutely worth investing on in 2020.

Digitization of ILT to Blended or Fully Online Learning

With increasing pressure on training budgets and the need to maximize the expenditure, more organizations are undertaking a digital transformation of learning.

A notable part of this exercise is converting the facilitated or ILT to a fully online mode or a blended mode. During this transformation, you can opt for online resources to support ILT or transition to a blended/fully online training delivery.

To support core ILT programs, include pre- and post-workshop resources. You can also add online assessments.

Evaluate the transition from ILT to blended or fully online programs to leverage the best-in-class solutions from mobile learning, microlearning, and video-based learning. Also opt for trending approaches from virtual reality to gamification to create immersive learning experiences.

Integrate augmented reality (AR) based on learning assets to support the classroom sessions. Use mobile learning apps to handle the facilitated session.

In 2020, this trend will see further acceleration in adoption.

E-Learning Trends in 2020: Performance Support Tools/Just In-Time Learning Aids

Today’s learners are an impatient lot! Multitaskers and pressed for time, they don’t want to log on to an LMS to locate a course that may have the answer to their need or their challenge.

They want learning resources to be within their workflow (read: on their phones) and packaged specifically to address their needs. Performance support tools can address their wide-ranging needs, including how to:

· Apply what they have learned.

· Gain further on a given topic.

· Study new concepts.

· Solve problems.

· Clear a bottleneck or a showstopper.

The extensive use of PSTs or instant learning aids and job aids will continue in 2020 to help organizations improve employee performance.

Informal Learning

Most of us are familiar with the 70-20-10 model for learning and development that maps the learning to be:

· predominantly experiential learning (70 percent) that happens on the job.

· social or collaborative learning (20 percent) that happens by learning with or from others

· formal training (10 percent).

Organizations are realizing the need to shift their training spending, which is being used predominantly for formal training, to a more balanced approach. This is reflected in providing avenues for Informal learning.

This trend will accelerate in 2020 and will offer a strong support to formal training.

Social Learning

Learning with and from others continues to be a significant way people learn, from childhood to adulthood.

During the last few years, many organizations have invested in providing platforms to promote social or collaborative learning. The Next Gen LMSs as well as the LXPs (learning experience platforms) provide a strong core to leverage Social Learning and foster a culture of continuous learning.

While determining the impact of social learning is difficult, the technique works at several levels. It helps create communities of practice that can be used as a great lever for change and continuous learning.

This is a must-adopt trend in 2020!

Self-Directed Learning

A part of informal learning, self-directed learning (SDL) is a great way to empower learners and provide complete control of learning to them, such as:

· the onus of learning, determination of learning paths, and how they consume it is with the learners

· the ability to pull learning resources from the organization’s knowledge base or from external resources to meet their specific learning goals.

As this is not tracked, organizations are rather wary of this. However, the investment cost (of providing relevant, curated resources and possibly rewards or recognition for consuming them as well as contributing to the repository) is not high. It would help you see a more engaged learner pool that is motivated and committed to this model of learning.

I believe this trend will be an important part of workplace learning in the future and is worth investing in in 2020.

Section 2: Trends Featuring Learning Strategies That Deliver High-Impact and Immersive Learning Experiences


Microlearning recently has been the most talked about training approach.

As short, focused bites that can be easily consumed on-the-go, it is certainly learners’ favorite format to learn, explore further, or meet specific on the job needs. It is action-oriented, and each bite helps learners meet a specific outcome.

Its versatility makes it a great choice for L&D teams to use it for:

· formal training

· just-in-time job aids

· learning aids to recap, reinforce, or challenge the learners to review the primary learning

· ILT/VILT programs (pre-workshop assets, during-workshop assets, and post-workshop connects).

The wider adoption of microlearning doesn’t mark the demise of macrolearning or traditional e-learning. They will continue to co-exist and microlearning will be used to supplement or complement traditional e-learning. In fact, traditional e-learning courses will leverage the best microlearning techniques to increase learner engagement.

While it is not the answer to meet every kind of training mandate, it will continue to lead in 2020. This trend is absolutely a “must-have” in your training delivery this year.

Gamification for Serious Learning

Despite the big question mark of the impact of gamification, it continues to be an important learning strategy to engage learners.

Learners are drawn to it because it makes learning fun and doesn’t appear to be a chore anymore. It can be used effectively to engage today’s multigenerational workforce.

For L&D teams, its variant of “Gamification for Serious Learning” is the one that delivers the required ROI as it focuses on delivering specific learning outcomes (much the same way any other learning strategy does). Well-crafted gamification for serious learning will help you achieve:

· a high-engagement quotient

· better completion rates.

· higher recall and retention

· quicker application of acquired learning on the job

· proficiency gain (practice and move toward mastery)

· influence or trigger behavioral.

You can multiply its impact by combining it with other successful techniques like microlearning and mobile apps for learning such as gamified:

· mobile apps for learning

· microlearning

· virtual reality (VR)

· interactive videos.

Gamification techniques can be applied across all corporate training needs.
With reducing costs, shorter time to design and deploy, several use cases and success stories, this trend is worth a serious look in 2020.

Video Based Learning (Videos and Interactive Videos)

With an acceleration in the adoption of microlearning and reduced costs of development, videos will continue as an upward trend in 2020.

You will see an extensive use of microlearning videos as well as learning pathways (Read More/Explore Further) [MD1] that are curated from public domain assets.

You will also see an increase in the use of interactive videos that provide a high degree of engagement through learning interactions and assessments, similar to traditional e-learning courses. Unlike classic videos, interactive videos can be tracked from the LMS.

Videos are a high-impact medium and a great way to handle your varied corporate trainings. They can be used to:

· Complement or supplement most of corporate training needs.

· Act as a learning nugget (job aid) or as a series of microlearning nuggets connected through a narrative or a learning path (for formal training).

· Support ILT/VILT.

· Promote informal learning.

· Step up social or collaborative learning.

Their versatility enables them to be used across the learning and performance improvement mandate to:

· Create the buzz or awareness and establish WIIFM (What’s in It For Me).

· Set the context or teach concepts.

· Offer learning followed by practice, application, and summaries.

· Checkpoint learners’ progress and understanding.

· Reinforce and keep the “Forgetting Curve” at bay.

This trend is also a “must-have” in 2020 in your training delivery to offer highly engaging and immersive learning experiences.

AR/VR and MR or Immersive Learning

While there is no debate on the strength of immersive learning strategies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR), for multiple reasons their use hasn’t quite matched the hype. Given the higher costs and lack of justification of ROI, there have been relatively fewer takers for these strategies.

With easily implemented solutions (including from players like Adobe and Trivantis as well as niche AR/VR platforms), the cost and the lead time to develop these solutions is going down. There are also several use cases that apply microlearning-based nuggets with AR/VR. With lower costs and high impact, the adoption of this kind of solution will increase further.

In 2020, you will certainly see more traction on this trend as these solutions become more affordable and can be offered to supplement formal training.

Curation and User-Generated Content

Today, the Internet provides access to information in seconds, but we still need to review the maze of data to identify what’s really needed.

Content curation is emerging as a great way to offset this challenge and offer on-demand, relevant content to the users.

· It also enables users to find access to information that they can use at the moment of their need.

· You can curate content from your existing knowledge base as well as from the public domain. This can be used to support formal training and keep the costs down.

· It offers a recommended learning path that users can further customize.

· It is a great way to encourage informal learning and, more significantly, self-directed learning at the workplace.

· It can also facilitate user contribution (user-generated content) to keep the knowledge base current and relevant.

Section 3: Trends That Will Help You Assess the Impact and Aid Maximizing the ROI

Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)

LXPs are a highly personalized learning experience that can be crafted by the learner through learning pathways. They leverage artificial intelligence to understand learning patterns and make further recommendations. As a result, they encourage exploration and self-directed learning. They offer inclusive learning and content curation and facilitate user-generated content. They also feature social learning, offer recognition to active participants, and feature assessments along with badges and certification. LXPs are fun, more engaging, and relevant for learners, and they help learners meet specific learning outcomes.

There is a major churn in the LMS space, and there is clear movement towards the adoption of LXPs that will continue in 2020.

Learner Analytics to Enhance Learning Experiences

As organizations increase the focus on the impact of training on the learners as well as the gain for the business, learner analytics is becoming a crucial aid in this endeavor.

Learner analytics can provide valuable insights into the learner behavior to validate what is working and what is not. It can also provide actionable insights to enhance or change the current approach and align better to the goals.

It can also provide cues on what more can be done to:

· Improve learner motivation.

· Improve learner engagement.

· Facilitate the application of learning.

Besides SCORM 2004 and Tin Can API, the AI techniques (that LXPs and the Next Gen LMS platforms offer) will be used to mine the analytics to provide a more customized, personalized, and relevant learning.

This trend aligns to the key area of continuous improvement as well as provide actionable insights to enhance the learning experience. Both go a long way in impacting the ROI on the training spend positively.

This is an investment you must plan for in 2020.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Learning

In the previous trend, I had highlighted the use of AI in learner analytics. It will also be a trend to watch out for in the context of enhancing learning in 2020. While it has been the talk of the town for a while, we are seeing its practical value now.

It is being leveraged to offer highly custom learning pathways for learners. Based on the data of their content consumption pattern, further recommendations can be made.

The use of chatbots as virtual coaches for learners has also begun. This offers a huge value-add to the engaged, connected, and personalized learning experiences that learners want.

We can look forward to more applications of AI for learning in 2020.

I hope my post stands out by giving you useful insights on each trend, its value, and how you can leverage it to create higher impact training and maximize your ROI.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, contact me or leave a comment below.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.