The 5 trends driving learning engagement
The way we learn at work is constantly evolving. We have come a long way since corporate training was delivered almost exclusively in person, and the pandemic has only accelerated the rate at which companies are adopting digital learning.
This has helped to increase learner engagement to some extent, thanks to the variety of tools and devices available.
So, what are the current trends in learning engagement that we should be aware of? What will be the impact of AI on learning delivery? And why are people moving towards more self-directed learning?
Recently, three Cegos managers attended global L&D conferences to find out answers to these questions, and more.
Here, we present the five key trends that are rapidly evolving.
1- Self-directed learning
Self-directed learning is nothing new, but it is certainly a growing trend as people seek a more flexible and convenient way to develop their skills.
“The evolution of technologies and participant demands in the market contribute to this trend,” says Ian Kennedy, International Projects Consultant, who attended the ATD International conference in San Diego. “Learners today seek autonomy and flexibility in their learning journey, considering their busy lives. They want to upskill and develop themselves at their own pace. Self-directed learning creates a personalised and effective learning experience, focusing on the learner's specific needs and growth in their role.”
However, the fact that learners need to motivate themselves means content must be carefully designed.
“The challenge has been to make it easy for learners to engage,” says Ken Govan, Commercial and Marketing Director, who attended the Learning Technologies conference in London. “It should be easy for them to find content and engage with the pathway, which must be a great fit for the individual learner. The content itself must be highly engaging and make an emotional connection. For example, it should be eye-opening, playful, exciting, intriguing, and so on.”
2- Generative AI
The sudden emergence of ChatGPT has alerted to us all to the exciting opportunities offered by AI in the learning space, as well as the dangers. Aside from concerns about authenticity and IP, it seems generative AI will prove a boon for both learners and learning providers.
“Generative AI definitely impacts the learning process, especially in digital learning,” says Catarina Correia, Head of Marketing and Communication, who attended the HR Digital conference in Lisbon. “It offers personalised and interactive learning opportunities, allowing learners to access information, guidance, and support as needed. By conversing with AI models such as ChatGPT, learners can ask questions, seek explanations, and receive immediate feedback. This technology boosts learner engagement, encourages active participation, and fosters critical thinking skills. Additionally, it provides a cost-effective and scalable way to deliver tailored learning experiences to multiple learners simultaneously.”
AI is good for saving time and auto-generating engaging content, too.
“Right now, it can take the ‘grunt-work’ out of many things, such as getting the content to 70% readiness for scrutiny, editing and validation,” says Ken Govan. “For learning tech, AI is having an immediate positive impact on the curation of learning pathways. With multiple demands to create compelling and effective learning pathways from existing content, AI tools can massively reduce the time required from limited L&D resources.”
3- Virtual Reality (VR)
As VR technology evolves and reduces in price, VR training is becoming increasingly accessible to companies. It has already been extensively employed for technical skills, given that it creates a practical space for people to build skills in a non-risk environment.
However, as the experience becomes more sophisticated, VR is a useful tool for developing soft skills, too.
“Some companies provide VR solutions that simulate scenarios where learners interact with digital manager avatars and engage in conversations on specific topics like soft skills and communication,” says Ian Kennedy. “These realistic training practices can be applied to real-life work situations. The presence of vendors demonstrating these learning simulations indicates that VR learning experiences will likely continue to improve and become more widespread in the L&D market. The technology will become more realistic, offer a wider range of training topics and skills, and become a standard part of the learner experience.”
The Metaverse – a virtual reality space created by Mark Zuckerberg’s company Meta – has promised to revolutionize the way we interact in the virtual world. Despite setbacks and some less-than-impressive visuals, it looks like the beginnings of something that could become quite commonplace in the future.
“The Metaverse is particularly useful for remote collaboration and group learning, particularly for activities such as design thinking and collective intelligence-based brainstorming workshops,” says Catarina Correia. “It enables learners to assume different roles, such as that of a client or manager, and practice skills like sales techniques and argumentation. The integration of gamification elements within the Metaverse further enhances learning retention. However, adopting the Metaverse in learning is still limited due to obstacles such as the high cost and comfort of immersive equipment, as well as technological challenges related to server capacity.”
The drive to include gaming elements within training programs has gained a lot of traction recently. And it is easy to see why.
“Gamification drives engagement, so it matters a lot,” says Ken Govan. “Context and appropriateness are everything. The execution has to match the audience otherwise it risks being a gimmick. Used well, gamification connects people to the learning and drives motivation.”
So long as content creators remember the ultimate objective is to teach, not just to entertain, gamification can be a powerful device.
“As training methodologies evolve, learners increasingly expect gamification to be a part of their learning experience,” says Ian Kennedy. “L&D professionals must consider how to provide a fun and engaging learning environment that ensures content sticks with learners and can be applied in their daily lives.”
5- Digital and mobile-first
More and more companies are employing a digital-first approach to L&D. The trend of self-directed learning (see above) is a key driver for this, but it is the convenience of mobility that attracts a lot of learners.
“Various channels and platforms are available for accessing digital learning content,” explains Catarina Correia. “These include popular options like online learning platforms, learning management systems (LMS), and mobile applications. These channels offer learners diverse interactive modules, videos, e-books, and multimedia resources.”
It is also the sheer accessibility of e-learning that drives demand, and engagement.
“Digital learning content is predominantly consumed in bite-sized pieces through microlearning,” says Ian Kennedy. “Learners prefer to engage with digital content on mobile devices and e-learning platforms due to convenience and dynamic engagement experiences. It is essential to recognise the preference for digital learning and deliver content that is easily accessible and suited to learners' needs and preferences.”
While face-to-face training remains an important component in L&D, the increasing use of digital will continue to drive better engagement in the field of corporate learning. Organisations that invest in learning technology now will find it easier to excite their learners and be prepared for the changes that lie ahead.
If you would like to know more about how to incorporate these engagement trends into your L&D programs, contact Cegos today.