2021 eLearning Trends to Look For

After the whirlwind that was 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, murder hornets, social justice unrest, Tiger King, election drama, and more—it’s hard to predict what 2021 is going to bring to our workplaces and homes. However, we can take what we’ve learned from our reactions to 2020’s challenges and make a few predictions about how that will continue to impact life, learning, and work in 2021.

4 eLearning trends we expect to see in 2021 include:

  1. Greater emphasis on mastery-based learning
  2. Continued growth in virtual training
  3. Better tracking and training personalization
  4. Increased skills-based training

1. Emphasis on mastery-based learning

Mastery-based learning is an instructional approach where learners need to demonstrate a deep level of understanding of a topic or subject area before progressing onto another topic or subject area. This instructional method is designed to ensure professionals are not just clicking next through the content, but fully comprehending and mastering the material.

According to Chief Learning Officer, “It often involves levels of capabilities and a curriculum that starts with basic proficiency and goes all the way up to expert classifications. This becomes especially important in high-stakes industries where professionals’ knowledge of their job-critical skills must be verified.”

Mastery-based learning often includes passing a knowledge exam or completing hands-on exercises as a way to verify knowledge acquisition and understanding.

This focus on actionable outcomes rather than “x hours of training completed” or “x courses completed” is very reflective of what many businesses have learned from the pandemic. It’s not how many hours a worker is in the office or in training that matters, nor where they’re doing that work or training, but how productive they are and how well they’re understanding their tasks that matters.

Building competency assessments into your learning management system is a great way to assess content mastery.

A tool like KnowledgePilot inside our rockstar LMS makes that easy to do. You can create custom assessments in KnowledgePilot and tie them to specific courses and skills goals. The tool also enables you to allow learners to test out of areas they’ve mastered or recommend extra training for weaker areas.


2. Continued growth in virtual training

As predicted in eLearning Industry, “With more employees wanting to stay remote, the monumental adoption of online training is one of the eLearning trends in 2021 that we will continue for the foreseeable future.”

Here at eLearning Brothers, we’ve seen a huge increase in interest in CenarioVR®, our virtual reality course builder, this year. Creating interactivity in CenarioVR is very similar to building eLearning using an authoring tool like Lectora, Storyline, or Captivate, but with the added bonus of being more immersive because of the virtual reality aspect.

Virtual reality training is excellent for:

  • Activities requiring high situational awareness, such as security or loss prevention
  • Dangerous environments, such as firefighting or working on oil rigs
  • Situations that would be difficult to replicate, like large construction sites or factory floors
  • Areas in which mistakes would be costly, such as in the healthcare industry

It’s also a great substitute for in-person training when you can’t gather your employees together or send them on location due to the pandemic.

Virtual reality technology is only getting better and more more affordable, so expect to see a lot more of this in the eLearning industry.


3. Better tracking and training personalization

In today’s uncertain world, organizations are trying to make the best decisions they can to protect their business. Having better data leads to better decisions. According to eLearningIndustry, “many companies are turning to deeper, richer data sets to gain insights into their remote workforces and tracking different metrics to determine productivity and development.”

A learning management system or learning experience platform enables organizations to track data like your learners’ progress, test results, course completion rates, online training efficiency, or any other data that is relevant to your training objectives.

By collecting and analyzing this data, organizations can adapt training to the unique needs of their learners. This might mean changing the format of the next training to reflect learner feedback, or delivering more adaptive, personalized learning modules.


4. Increased skills-based training

According to Chief Learning Officer, “A consensus is growing that views skills as the new microcurrency” for investing in the future of work.

And the most important skills these days? Soft skills.

It’s becoming nearly impossible for employees to thrive harmoniously and deliver top performance without soft skills. The pandemic made that very clear. Skills like problem-solving, communication, leadership, and collaboration became more important than hard skills.

Take skills data from labor market analytics firm Emsi, for example:

  • Remote collaboration or empathy are in higher demand now
  • Skills such as event planning are in decline
  • High demand for skills like mental agility and stamina

But how do you train for mental agility? Chief Learning Officer recommends skills clustering.

“Rather than targeting mental agility in isolation, you might target its cluster by also addressing skills like navigating ambiguity, working with incomplete information, and developing organizational and self-awareness. Mental agility falls into the same cluster as those skills and will come as an added bonus alongside that broader family of skills within your organization.”

The great news is that you can quickly roll out soft skills training with off-the-shelf courseware libraries, like our professional development and soft skills training. Or, follow instructional design best practices and build your own content with an authoring tool like Lectora.

As organizations work to face 2021’s new challenges, online training will continue to be more important than ever. Through innovations like virtual reality training, better data tracking and LMS personalization, organizations can build a strong remote workforce. With the focus on mastery-based learning and skills-based training, workers will be more prepared to pivot when necessary and adapt to new disruptions.

Contact us to learn how we can help you implement these eLearning trends in 2021.