eLearning is popular with adults for formal and informal learning adventures. As the market becomes flooded with courses, course platforms and course designers, you can expect some changes in 2017.
Here is a short, incomplete list of the trends coming in the world of eLearning:
1. Experts Emerge
With many options for courses in every niche, learners have a plethora of choices when it comes to choosing which course they pay for. Those who are experts in their field will stand out and rise above the competition.
These experts may fall into three categories:
1. Be a content expert
2. Be a teaching expert
3. Be both a content and teaching expert
Content experts are often recognized by a degree, license, experience or socially recognized alternatives. Content experts, also known as domain experts, sometimes have trouble putting their knowledge, skills and experience to use. These experts need to learn basic teaching strategies and practice engaging learners using the most effective practices. There are also schools of thought that believe that content experts always make bad teachers . Although I disagree with the statement to a degree, Dashe & Thomson make some great points. I will leave to you to decide for yourself.
Teaching experts will need to take a step back from where they are and use researched teaching strategies to reach learners. After all, your learners are not where you are with your knowledge and skills. You used to be in their shoes. How good of a teacher you are will depend on how well you can relate to your learners in their time and place. Edutopia believes that the term "expert" should actually be replaced by "experienced". Teaching experts can often take content that they are not familiar with and teach it to others. These experts need to be active learners of whatever topics they are teaching and is their strengths of chunking content and making topics digestible.
Content and teaching experts have the advantage here. If you have the content knowledge/skills AND the teaching skills, you will have a leg up from your competition.
"Experts" will begin to develop more online courses and edge out those who have not positioned themselves as experts. If you are an entrepreneur, how do you rise above the competition? Read on friends…
1. What kind of "expert" are you?
2. What have you done to position yourself as an expert?
2. Gamification Gains Traction
Gamification spices up learner engagement through the use of gaming elements and game mechanics. Leaderboards, item shops, badges, challenges and avatars are just a few strategies that could be incorporated into a course. You might use one or two elements or your course might be fully gamified. See this post for a breakdown of this strategy.
1. What is the difference between gamification and gaming?
2. How can you incorporate these strategies into your courses? Into your blogs? Into your email content? Into your business?
3. Active Learning Turns Into the Norm
It may seem like the market is saturated with many courses in every niche. That doesn't mean that your course will be left out. However, too many courses rely on a basic "sit and get" lecture approach. In education, lecture is a well-researched strategy and the results and outcomes don't look good.
Move beyond your comfort zone and the way that you were taught by incorporating more active learning strategies. As course authors begin to implement these golden techniques, learners will see just how much better courses can be.
In the future learners will look for courses with active learning strategies and these courses will rise above the competition. Be on the cutting edge and start now!
1. Think back to your school days. Were you lectured to? Did you believe it helped you learn? Why or why?
2. Brainstorm others ways to present content if you are not allowed, under any circumstance, to "lecture. What else could you do?
4. Innovation is Rewarded
Right now the industry standard is to learn how to create courses from someone else who creates courses. Although this is a great for learning from the experience of others, including their successes and mistakes, it does little to kindle your uniqueness and reward innovation.
Course authors who succeed will do something different. Perhaps they will not use any video (gasp!), use an animated character to teach the course (say what?) or use virtual reality to immerse learners into a new learning environment (yes!).
Learners are already getting bored with the typical course offerings. Todd Tauber mentioned reasons for boring courses back in 2013. Our courses should be getting better and learning from the mistakes of others. Articulate states that "boring courses are easy to build". I want to shout this from the rooftops!
Building online courses is not for the hobbyist or casual teacher. They take work and lots of it.
Those who innovate their online courses will be the new industry standard. Learners will come to expect "different" and it will become a major selling feature of successful courses.
1. How are you innovating in your courses? In other words, what are you doing differently than everyone else?
2. How will you prevent boredom in your courses?
5. Personalized Learning Becomes an Industry Standard
We know that each learner is different. Each comes with his or her own set of background experiences, knowledge and skills. Many speak languages other than the course author. Others may be colorblind. Some may be familiar with your topic, others are complete newbies. Some may be at a 4th grade reading level, others may have a college degree and read professional journals successfully.
Courses must take their needs into account. Working through this process during the outlining and planning stages of course development is much easier than coming back and making changes after the course is completed.
Professional courses must comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. Accessibility is part of a personalized learning experience. The ADA National Network has a FREE COURSE to help us all understand accessibility and how to incorporate simple elements that go a long way to respect and honor those with disabilities who want to learn.
In the future, courses will need to be personalized for individual learners. Course authors will also be required to comply with basic ADA guidelines.
1. When designing online courses, do you build in personalization BEFORE or AFTER the course is built?
2. How can you add ADA compliance into your course?
This is an offshoot of gamification but can be considered separately. Credentialing and micro credentialing award a digital certificate to learners once they complete your course, reach a certain goal or demonstrate a competency. Credentialing has become a social norm. In fact, you should show "social proof" of your knowledge and skills as an entrepreneur. Testimonials, case studies, certificates, degrees and credentials are a few ways to show social proof.
While many courses currently allow a learner to print off a paper certificate, in the future these certificates will be digital. They will be shareable on social media like LinkedIn and Facebook and will be transferable to online portfolios.
1. How do you reward your learners once they finish your course?
2. How do you show social proof of your skills and knowledge?
7. Course systems that support these features
Course platforms and Learning Management Systems have some catching up to do. During my last round of research, gamification strategies were only an option in a handful of platforms. Accessibility features were a bit more widespread because it is the law but were still lacking. Personalized learning and active learning features were hard to find. Most course platforms encourage the author to create a linear, video and text based course.
In the future, course platforms will need to support course authors with gamification features, accessibility options, active learning strategy features, credentials and ways to personalize learning.
1. Does your course platform support these features?
2. How can you implement some of these strategies outside of your course platform? Consider social media, email, webinars, face-to-face meetings, snail mail, etc.
So there you have it - predictions of some things we can hope to see in 2017.
What do you think about these trends? Will see them come true in the next year?