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11 Technology trends set to transform e‑learning

11 Technology trends set to transform e‑learning

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Whether you’re concerned that the exponential rate of technological development is going to be the demise of humankind or its saviour, there is no slowing it down. Few are able to grasp the true impact of an exponential curve, but to give you an idea:

Technology trends

This much growth, however, is great for industries such as education.

Here are some ways in which technology is changing the course of education for the better:

Mobile learning

According to a report by Strategy Analytics, global smartphone penetration in the market will hit the 44% mark in 2017, growing to 59% by 2020. Think about that for a second, by 2020 almost 2 thirds of the entire world will own smartphones.

Consider that, with a report by TNS that states that millennials use their mobile devices up to 3.2 hours a day – suddenly a very clear picture starts to form and investing in mobile learning really does begin to make sense.

It is unlikely that education will replace the time spent on mobile devices, so it should form part of it.


Whether you agree with Microsoft, that attention spans are shorter than that of goldfish or question its legitimacy, there is no denying that the amount of information vying for that attention is vast.

Microlearning is a methodology, in which a topic is broken up into key learning points, that are easier to digest and retain. Apart from a multitude of benefits, it is also a great bridge between formal and informal learning. But where it really shines is in its support for continuous learning.

In fact, according to a study completed by Buchem, from the University of Applied Science in Berlin and Hammelmann from the University of Applied Science in Munich, microlearning is an extremely effective form of learning which facilitates lifelong learning and encourages continuous professional development.

Augmented Reality learning

Safety and cost are always a concern in training and development, especially in the corporate space. Technologies such as Augmented Reality are starting to solve both of these challenges and are paving the way to truly immersive learning experiences.

With the technological barriers to entry decreasing all the time, Augmented Reality is bound to play a more prominent role in education and training throughout 2017. Although there are still some challenges to overcome, the vast array of benefits is hard to ignore.

Interactive videos

Within 2 years, 80% of global internet consumption will be video, according to a prediction by Cisco. That is not a statistic to scoff at. Although video is in high demand and quite obviously the medium of choice, it has its limitations in learning.

Interactive videos, on the other hand, fill those gaps, which result from said limitations, quite nicely. Introducing user-led decisions, into the experience, creates a far more solid base for engagement. And besides the benefits that come with engagement, the introduction of choice means that interactive videos can provide meaningful data for educators – a huge distinction from linear video.

Wearable technology

There are very obvious applications for wearable technology when it comes to Augmented Reality, as mentioned above, but it doesn’t just stop there. Imagine having a teacher on your wrist, instructing you wherever you are – via Facetime, or a device that monitors your technique, using accelerometers and motion sensors with more practical skills. Such is the power of wearable technology.

Although wearable technology is still quite expensive, the rate at which the cost of technology is decreasing makes this an extremely viable solution for both corporate and school-based learning in the near future.

AI learning / personalised learning

As individuals, we tend to relate better to personalised experiences. While there are many debates as to whether people have different learning styles or not, ironically, there is little debate that they learn differently. A learners context is a determinant of how they respond to learning, ie; their backgrounds, learning paces and foundation knowledge – to name a few.

Thanks to improvements in the Artificial Intelligence space, personalised learning is no longer just a pipe dream. Deep learning makes creating a very personalised experience for each learner not only a possibility but feasible.

Knowledge on demand

Google has shaped the way we assimilate information. Entire populations have moved from getting information passively to actively searching for it. And smartphone penetration is only making this easier. More and more learners are used to having information on demand.

Learning solutions have begun to follow suit. Creating tools that allow learners to access information, where and when they need it, mirrors how they already seek out information.


Gamification is the application of typical elements of gameplay (point scoring, competition, etc.) to other areas, in this case, learning.

With examples of gamification being found as far back as the late 1800’s, it’s safe to say that it is not a new concept. Gamification has, however, evolved. Once again, the rapid rate of technological advancement has ensured the creation of many innovative ways of implementing gamified solutions.

Its popularity is only one small reason why it’s perfect for e-learning.

Cloud technology

Remember the days when you had to keep a flash drive on your keyring at all times, lest you be without the latest version of the document you were working on?

Those days are gone; cloud technology has – almost silently – changed the way we do everything. Education is not exempt. From reducing the costs of creating and distributing content, to all but completely eliminating accessibility issues, cloud computing is bound to continue to positively influence education.


It was Peter Drucker who famously said: “If it can be measured, it can be managed.” While he was referring to corporate metrics, the same thinking can be applied to just about anything, even learning.

Getting an objective understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of learning programs is the first step – one could even say leap – towards effective optimisation. Technology has made collecting, and understanding, data on learning possible. With accurate insights into what is and isn’t working, improvements can continuously be made.

Social learning

People are social creatures, this much is undeniable. Through thousands of years of evolution, we have honed our ability to learn from each other, and from our environments. In fact, a psychologist by the name of Albert Bandura developed a theory on social learning, with observational learning at its core.

Technology has just made that process even simpler. Whether it is video-based distance learning or social forums that allow learners to interact with each other, technology has ensured that social learning can happen with relative ease.

2017 is bound to see some of these trends develop further, some may even break into the mainstream. Most of the inhibiting factors originate from the cost of technology, and this is becoming a smaller and smaller problem every day.

Someday, we may not even have to ‘learn’ anymore.



Author: Kyle Hauptfleisch

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