Training Trends in 2021

As we reach the 1-year anniversary of living with the pandemic, we wanted to reflect on how it had changed our approach to working life, and specifically the role of L&D.

It’s true that the last year has dramatically altered the way we work at least temporarily, but more likely that most businesses will adopt the flexible approach to home working, including remote access to company data sources, applications and access to staff training.

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s been the “adapt to survive” mandate which has brought about the complete remodelling of our own training services to embrace the online model rather than a traditional face to face setting. Whilst this was somewhat a forced choice for many, we have found that the approach has enabled many business who judged on site training to be perhaps too much of a commitment, to dip their toes with a more focused approach.

Our full suite of courses are bookable as virtual training sessions now, with even more options from our new “bite size” modules for those that don’t want a fully immersive course or have a very specific learning requirement. Check out the full list of our courses here.

We came across an interesting article by Ashley Pandey writing for www.elearningindustry.com where she has summarised some key focus areas to emerge for L&D teams to consider for 2021:

  • Improve remote learning experiences by leveraging immersive virtual training techniques rather than just addressing the mandate of remote training.
  • Create room for continuous, remote learning rather than offering discreet training.
  • Leverage frameworks that promote formal, informal, social Learning, as well as performance improvement rather than limiting the training budgets to only formal training.
  • Provide nudges to create habits of learning rather than delivering training and ending it with the validation of user registrations.
  • Focus on the learner; align training to what remote learners seek:
    • They should have the flexibility to “pull” content rather than the mandated “push.”
    • The content should be appealing, support multiple devices (mobile-ready), and be relevant and preferably personalized.
    • The learning journeys must be highly specific to their needs and, in fact, align with their career pathways.
    • The content should not be limited to just formal training. Instead, learning aids/job aids must be available on-demand, preferably in the workflow so that learners have access precisely at the moment of their need.
  • Offer a holistic suite of trainings, needed for remote learners
    From training that supports mental health well-being to building resilience, the pandemic triggered a brand new list of training to manage remote employees. Supporting leadership skills over a distance and sustaining productivity levels were other areas that got added. Of course, the standard training continues but is aligned to business goals (even at a distance).
  • Provide multi-pronged training and learning aids (70-20-10 model)
    The training strategy must be multi-pronged and not limited to offering discreet formal training alone. There must be provision for social/collaborative and experiential learning.
  • Create the value chain between learning and performance gain
    The training assets must be aligned to help learners accomplish learning, practice, application, and result in a tangible performance improvement.

In terms of top trends for the rest of the year, here’s what Ashley has highlighted:

Top eLearning Trends In 2021

Given the large number of trends, these areas are grouped into 5 sections by emphasising their relevance in the altered workplace dynamics.

Section 1: In The Spotlight—“Must-Have” Trends To Offer Remote Learning

  • Mobile learning
  • Mobile apps for learning
  • Virtual training—conversion of ILT to blended or fully online learning
  • eLearning accessibility considerations

Section 2: Trends That Equip Remote Users To Learn Quickly, Apply The Learning Effectively, And Get Access To Relevant Content And Just-in-time Learning Aids—In The Flow Of Work

  1. Microlearning
  2. Personalised learning
  3. Performance Support Tools (PSTs)/job aids

Section 3: Trends That Foster Continuous Learning

  1. Informal learning
  2. Curation and User-Generated Content
  3. Social learning
  4. Self-directed learning

Section 4: Trends That Help You Deliver Engaging, High-Impact, And Immersive Virtual Learning Experiences For Remote Learners

  1. Gamification
  2. Scenario-based learning and interactive story-based learning
  3. Video-based learning (videos and interactive videos)
  4. AR/VR and MR or Immersive learning
  5. NextGen learning strategies

Section 5: Trends That Help You Ascertain The Impact Of Remote Training And Help You Maximize The ROI

  1. Learner analytics
  2. Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs)
  3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning

We’ve decided to focus on eLearning for the purposes of this blog. If you would like to delve into the other topics in more detail, please click here to visit the full article on elearning.com: https://elearningindustry.com/elearning-trends-in-2021-perspectives-to-reframe-and-rethink-training-programs

Conversion Of Classroom To Blended Or Fully Online Learning

With remote operations and constraints of social distancing still present for 2021, classroom training will not be feasible in many cases, and converting these sessions to a virtual mode continues to be a priority for L&D teams.

A significant part of this conversion exercise is to identify how to transform the fully facilitated or Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to a Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), a blended mode, or a fully online mode. Looking at the time frame for conversion and budget, you can choose from Rapid development to semi-custom or high-end fully custom designs.

This transformation involves change management on many levels, selecting the right platform for delivery, managing expectations of the remote learners, and upskilling the trainers to adapt to the new medium. Do plan for this bit to sustain the momentum.

With value-adds that include the flexibility to learn in a remote environment, the ability to rapidly scale, the facility of personalization, and recognition of multi-generational workforce support, this trend is definitely a “must-have” in 2021.

eLearning Accessibility Considerations

With increased flexibility for employees to work remotely (from home), I anticipate a more inclusive workforce in the years to come. This would create a need to offer online training that can also address special needs. This is where designing online courses that conform to eLearning accessibility guidelines comes in.

There are high chances that each training group may include at least one learner with a special need of some form. eLearning accessibility ensures that everyone experiences training in a positive and engaging way. Accessible eLearning highlights the importance of attracting, upskilling, and retaining talent in your organization and demonstrates care for all employees.

In digital learning, accessible content is designed and developed in a way that allows people with special needs to find, understand, and navigate learning elements with ease. It puts the learner in control of their learning process while opening up a wider plethora of possibilities. Several authoring tools (notably, Trivantis Lectora and Articulate Storyline) offer features that can make your online trainings compliant to different degrees of eLearning accessibility standards.

While this trend would certainly not be a front-runner in 2021, it is worth factoring in—in particular, training programs that cover a majority of your employees. For instance, compliance trainings and induction and onboarding programs could be a good choice as you explore integrating this trend into your overall training delivery strategy in 2021.

In summary

We hope that you are excited about the future of L&D and the additional opportunities that the outcome of the pandemic has brought about. We anticipate that many more businesses will embrace training in general, as routes to entry are easier and less daunting than previously. We’d love to hear your ideas for new course subject and formats – please do drop me a line on chis@f1co.co.uk