What are the Future Trends in eLearning? – Expert Interview

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Dr. Eran Gal is the owner of Workplace Learning & Performance Support and a thought leader in learning trends. At DevLearn, he spoke about integrating formal and informal learning with performance support solutions. He sat with me for a short interview and shared with me his thoughts and insights about the present and the future of Learning and Development (L&D).

As an eLearning thought leader, what was your DevLearn experience like? Which trends caught your eye?

DevLearn was great, but that was no surprise – it’s great every year.  It’s always organized according to the highest standards. When you gather the right participants and the right speakers, you can’t miss. The goal of the conference is to try to look into the future and identify the organizational learning trends to come. It’s usually done with great accuracy, and this year wasn’t any different. Of all the technologies and innovations presented at the conference, the Digital Badges concept really left a significant impression on me (as well as on many of the other attendees). The Badge system is a digital certification for completing a learning process, and is really starting to catch on in the L&D field — for online CVs and business profiles on social networks like LinkedIn. The Digital Badges add a certificate to the user’s online profile. Any online learning experience gained (watching a video, reading an article, etc.) is documented and added to the user’s online resume. Another concept that, in my opinion, will be a focal point in the near future is the combining of information systems – “EcoSystems”, under one banner: HR systems, L&D systems and attendance control system – all combined together enabling the organization access to a comprehensive data base yet to be explored by organizations.

Big conventions and gatherings often give a glimpse into the future. What is your take about the future of corporate L&D?

First of all, my opinion is that the future lies in the past. Organizational learning will continue to rely on the familiar elements of “flat learning”, lectures, presentations, practical training, etc. However, the vector of L&D is going towards online learning, in which knowledge comes from a variety of sources (online articles, Youtube, Whatsapp, etc.) The only problem here is the controlling and monitoring of employee development, and that’s exactly where the Digital Badges fills in the gap. What can also help here is the xAPI protocol, which enables any device, including mobile devices, to report any learning events that occurred on that platform. As useful and innovative as this is, it was more popular at DevLearn than it is in the actual day-to-day learning field. But I believe that in 5 years or so, the assimilation of corporate learning programs will be much more developed.
Dr. Eran Gal
Dr. Eran Gal

We now hear more and more about unconventional training methods, using mobile phones, for examples.

These may apply more to the Millennial population. But with them working side by side with Baby Boomers, what do you think is the more recommended combination of traditional and “modern” training?  

The intergenerational gap always existed. The development in technology we face in our generation increases it, and the generational gap just continues to grow. For instance, the gap between my children and me is bigger than the gap between me and my father, which is bigger than the gap between him and his father. There is no way to bridge this gap completely, but we have to always remember that most people are “technological adapters” – for some it takes less time than the others, but eventually most of the people do adapt to new technology. As long as my content is relevant, the tools are intuitive and the UX is good, I can reach most of the population. When understanding this, we realize that the intergenerational gap is a big problem, but not a fatal one.  The picture will change when the next generation will enter the workforce. There are no generic solutions for this problem. There are many parameters we have to consider, and while calculating them, all we can find a good solution to the current workforce. But, as a rule, always remember to follow the elementary learning principles.              
Jason is the Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog. Jason established the Training Station blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to training, learning and development.