Happy New L&D Year! It’s our tradition to keep you up to date on the ever-changing L&D trends. This year forges on with the objective of exploring more training technology and making learning more accessible. We are starting out the New Year more knowledgeable than before.

Last year’s L&D trends included a few gems like Personalized Learning, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. This year, we are seeing even more personalized learning and AR/VR in our future.

Here is a look at our standing predictions for eLearning and tech trends that will take the L&D industry by storm this year.

1. Mobile-geared learning
As glued to our smartphones and tablets as we are daily, it was only a matter of time before we had to take learning to the small screens. How could we not? It is such a great way to take the learning out of the classrooms and right to our busy professionals on the job. This trend is here to stay.

Just like in the marketing world where every year for a decade espoused, “This is the Year of Mobile,” we have also seen proclamations in L&D for some time. Unlike the slow adoption of mobile marketing, however, mobile use in L&D is catching on faster, due to the path that marketing has already forged to mobile adoption. People use their smartphones for entertainment, social connections, shopping, etc. Marketers have made many apps towards different areas of our lives.

Luckily, the mobile movement in L&D is already in action and this year, it is getting bigger and better. On the mobile front, our focus should be our performance support tools, podcasts, and other mobile training solutions. Accessibility, fully responsive designs, and mobile-first learning solutions are essential.

2. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality
One of the biggest tech innovations (and hype) of the previous year was the employment of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in employee training programs.

The deployment of simulation training, the 360-degree interactions of VR and graphic overlays of AR have made learning more compelling to learners. These methods are investments that make portable, just in time, learner-focused, life-like experiences available to our trainees.

L&D has started to explore immersive technology in the form of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and their exciting new hybrid, Mixed Reality (MR). The results have been fun yet hard to justify their expense, I might add. The best uses I’ve seen are high-investment initiatives where the risks of doing a real-life simulation are high, yet the learning cannot be easily achieved without a simulation/real-life practice. We’ll see many more AR, VR, MR tests and specific initiatives in 2019.

3. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Learner Assistance
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen artificial intelligence incorporated in our day-to-day lives. We have seen it at work in the form of our Chatbots, automated Gmail replies, Alexa and Google assistants that help us make reservations, set reminders and control the lighting in our homes. Indeed, there is a lot we can borrow from marketers who have been using AI to increase product purchase.

The AI field has been working hard to make genuine human-machine interactions possible and the progress has been in leaps and bounds. It’s a good thing the digital learning field realized the benefits sooner rather than later.

We are seeing instructional design incorporate AI in learner assistance; predicting learner behavior and driving personalization. Machine learning, a subset of AI, has been focused on training our LMS to build rules from patterns in data received instead of these rules being pre-programmed.

With the massive help AI has been to the digital learning, expect to see more of its integration this year.

4. Personalization
We just talked about how artificial intelligence and machine learning, some of the year’s biggest L&D trends, have been used to foster personalization. AI-driven learning systems use the patterns and behaviors of our learners to lead them down customized learning paths.

Personalization veers away from the ‘one size fits all’ learning solutions to ones that cater to individuals’ unique skill sets. Adopting personalization in our learning systems could mean high returns on investment for L&D managers this year.

5. Adaptive Learning
As personalization is coming back bigger this year, so is the technology required to deliver it. Adaptive learning focuses on just that and uses algorithms to help learners along their effective learning paths and at the just the right pace.

This year, we will see adaptive learning take a few more strides in the digital learning space. More learning professionals will focus on combining tailored assessments, activities, and gamification with personalized training to foster more learner engagement.

Adaptive learning is here to stay. While similar to personalized learning, adaptive learning is actually individualized and changes based on what a learner knows. See my free L&D Technology Jargon guide for a quick visual.

6. Microlearning
We saw microlearning gain enormous traction last year. This year, one of my predictions is that L&D will take bolder, more practical steps than before. We will be seeing more adoption of this bite-sized, just-in-time learning style.

Organizations will continue the use of videos, quizzes, infographics and other tools, made available on all platforms including mobile, to make engagement easier. Organizations and learners alike benefit from this method of delivering information that caters to memory retention.

7. Video-Based Learning
One of last year’s L&D trends that I can assure you is not going away anytime soon is video-based learning. And why would it? Videos are an attention-grabbing, timesaving way to cater to our brains’ preference for visual information.

The goal this year is complementing or replacing bulky, long-form training text with contextual videos. Video-based learning is one trend that is immensely helpful in delivering information and we will see it take more precedence this year. We’ll also see more interactive videos in 2019 as we make learner engagement a two-way experience.

8. Content Curation
There is a lot of relevant information available on the internet and in our own organizations’ intranets and SharePoint sites. The problem is there is not one perfectly curated library of learning content. This is where content curation comes in. There is a wealth of information to be drawn from and we will see curated content adapt to meet learners’ needs. Many of the companies I work with have adopted the commercial content curation platforms (e.g. Degreed) and are benefitting from the AI-powered adaption in each user’s learning path.

Other companies I work with handle their own content curation. This year we might even see some democratization of this task. It might not only belong to the training department, we will see a lot of knowledge sharing and crowdsourcing by other professionals and trainees. Content curation remains hot and hopefully, in 2019 we’ll move beyond the implementation hype of 2018 into the on-going sustainment and usage issues so these platforms live beyond a brief trend.

9. Development of Secondary Skills
Apart from the technology trends I mentioned, an important non-technology need is human skills. Leadership, communication, team-building, and problem-solving skills are just some of the necessary secondary skills that have not been given enough attention by the training sector. It is extremely essential to train employees for better client relationships and critical given the future workplace and rise of automation. I would love to see more initiative in secondary skills development by training departments.

New Year, Even Better L&D Trends

Every year we look for new ways to better the learning and development sector with more learner-centered ideas. These are the L&D trends to watch for and include in our training programs for the New Year.