The real learning technology trends

700 L&D leaders from around the world took part in the Learning Health Check highlighting what tools and technologies are in use today and what is being planned for the future. Initial analysis helps organisations to cut through all the noise and hype surrounding learning technologies, trends and sentiments that surface at this time of year.

Published 22 November 2018
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The real learning technology trends

“For us, a real trend is not just what people are talking about, but what they are actually doing”, says Laura Overton, founder of Towards Maturity. “This analysis highlights the tools that organisations are most comfortable using, vs those that are most likely to be talked about, are very different indeed.”

The heatmap, showing learning technology trends for 2019, both confirms and contradicts a lot of the noise out there. For example, one trending conversation is that the LMS is dead, however the latest data shows that it is not. Two years ago, 75% of learning leaders were using an LMS and now it has risen to 82%.

When it comes to online content, the real trend is still to create content vs curated content in meaningful ways. Today 19% are using curation tools, which had grown by just 5% in the last two years, compared to 87% who are using e-learning content. 64% of this content is created in-house.

Learning record stores, introduced to the industry back in 2011 to help track learning activities across connected systems, is only in use by 14% and is down slightly from two years ago (17%). When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), for example machine learning and chat bots, 14% of L&D are using or experimenting with it today. Although usage is up from 6% in 2016 and is expected to double in the year ahead, it has failed to capture the market.

Immersive games and simulations have been highlighted as important trends to watch for many years, with 30% of L&D leaders using them today. A significant increase compared to 20% using them two years ago. The research also shows that today only 24% of L&D include game-based elements such as leaderboards or levels in their learning design, again low considering the hype around gamification.

Online behaviours that define the consumer market are not reflected by the learning community. Only 35% are actively using tools to support content generated by users, but a slight increase from the 33% using these tools in 2016. Platforms that enable new learning experiences to be shared and created are expected to double in the next two years, but currently are only in use by one in five L&D leaders.

It is very easy this time of year for L&D to get sucked into all the chatter and invest in technology that will not deliver. “You’ll get lots of technology trends this time of year, but don’t make your decisions based on them”, says Overton. “Don’t get distracted. Our research over the past 15 years shows investing in new tools, even the trending ones, does not deliver impact. High performing learning organisations are embracing new tools and technologies today but it is the strategy and tactics behind their implementation that directly link back to results, not the tools themselves.”

Initial investigation of the Learning Health Check data has shown that L&D needs to invest in their own skills and knowledge to understand how to select and use the right tools in order to achieve impact in the context of their own organisation.

“Learning and Development need to apply more business intelligence to our decision making to influence investments, plans and success”, says Overton. “That is why we are now working directly with organisations to provide more analyst advice and why we are sharing what strategies work best.”

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