5 Eternal eLearning Trends That Have Stood the Test of Time

eLearning has had, and continues to have trends come and go during its relatively short lifetime, with certain trends disappearing into oblivion, while some trends sticking for good, and being followed to this day. In this article, we’ll discuss 5 timeless eLearning trends that stuck, and have become more of eLearning essentials than trends. Let’s go.

  1. Gamification

Gamification tops the list of eternal eLearning trends because it is a sure-shot way to build learner engagement. Gamified eLearning courses have evolved to include more elements in them than simply game dynamics and rules like leaderboards, points, rewards and achievements. Although all these points are what makes gamification so great as a learner engagement and motivation tool, the gamified courses of today utilize augmentations, animations and compelling storylines. Gamification has not only stood the test of time as an eLearning trend, it has improved with it. Which is why gamification is the way to go, and one of the most beneficial trends in eLearning ever.

  1. Personalized Learning

Corporate organizations have now understood that each individual learner/employee is different, and have different professional and personal goals, according to which they should be provided training through eLearning. They should have the freedom to choose their own learning paths, which makes their learning more focused and targeted. By giving the learners the power to choose what modules to complete and which to skip, personalized learning empowers its users. Personalized learning also appeals more to learners, as everyone wants something that is designed based on their personal choices. Personalized learning is thus a trend that stuck, and is being used more and more by corporate organizations that wish to improve their employee learning and development.

  1. mLearning

Talking about learner autonomy and freedom, nothing gives learners more freedom than mLearning. After all, employees have a lot on their plate, even without having to take out the time during office hours to complete eLearning courses. When they’re forced to complete courses during office hours, it leads to a backlog of actual work, as well as discontent. When employees feel resentment towards eLearning courses, and treat them only as a tiring convention that must be done, no learning can take place. mLearning allows employees to complete their eLearning courses on their smartphones, whenever they want to, wherever they want to. This solves all the above mentioned problems. This is the reason mLearning has transformed from an eLearning trend to an absolute necessity in the modern world, as a smartphone is something that every modern-day employee has, and regularly engages with.

  1. APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)

It was SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) that started the trend of APIs within eLearning by allowing training and course content to be shared with other SCORM compliant systems. SCORM was succeeded by xAPI, also known as Tin Can API as well as Experience API. Basically these programs have built-in instructions for applications to talk to each other, so that the content is compatible and platform-independent. xAPI or Tin Can was considered an improvement over SCORM because it enables learners to collect data online and offline, while helping track learner progress and use content through a multitude of software suites, in addition to certain other features. APIs too have become an essential nowadays, but it wasn’t long before they were considered just a new-fangled trend.

  1. Flash to HTML5 Conversion

Flash is dead. This is a brutal truth. But, Flash didn’t die all of a sudden. It wasn’t long before Flash was the gold standard of eLearning courses, but that was before eLearning professionals realized the magic of HTML5. HTML5 allowed audio, video, 2D/3D graphics and animation to play without a plug-in. In addition, it gave hardware access, offline storage, and supported cloud-based applications. But the clincher was the fact that any eLearning course made on it was automatically responsive! This hastened Flash’s imminent doom. So what about all those Flash courses that were created? Would those become useless? Fortunately, no. It was found that Flash courses could be converted to HTML5 courses, and thus began the trend of Flash to HTML5 conversion, which is a big thing, even today.

You never know which eLearning trend might be here to stay, so never knock one until you’ve tried it.

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Game Based Learning – Custom Claw Machine Interaction

We would love to unravel the challenges that are requested by our clients. Recently we got a game based customization request from one of our clients from Dubai (UAE). The requirement was to develop elearning courses for their academic curriculum (K12). They possess raw materials and need to convert paper-based material into elearning. The courses…

Gamification Mechanics – What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Gamification is one of the most popular trends in eLearning. Gamification increases learner engagement, makes eLearning fun and interactive, improves learner’s knowledge absorption and retention and enhances the learning experience for learners from all age groups. eLearning professionals, L&D (Learning and Development) professionals, as well as learners that have experience with gamified eLearning courses would have heard the term “gamification mechanics” a lot of times in passing. But what does this term mean and why is it important? In this article we’ll discuss the same.

Gamification mechanics, also called game mechanics or verbs of gamification are actually the elements that are used in an eLearning course to gamify it. These include the actions, control mechanisms and processes that are usually found in games, which help put the learner in the middle of the action as well as restrict them in certain ways in order to create a challenge. The term “mechanics” refers to how anything (in this case a game or gamified eLearning course) operates. Different publications list different number of gamification mechanics, but there are 7 key gamification mechanics which are recognized globally and used the most often. These include:

  1. Points
  2. Badges/Achievements
  3. Levels
  4. Progress bars
  5. Leaderboards
  6. Rewards
  7. Learner Interaction

Let us discuss these gamification mechanics in detail:

  1. Points

Well, it wouldn’t be a game without a scoring system, would it? In case of gamified eLearning, learners should earn points by progressing through a course or by unlocking achievements. Points should also be tied to either a reward, badge or an achievement itself. Points are also often used to level up (by collecting a certain number of points), to appear on leaderboards or as currency in the game to buy badges, rewards and other in-game items.

  1. Badges/Achievements

Badges are usually awarded when the gamer/learner achieves something, and are thus, usually linked with achievements. Badges are usually displayed alongside a learner’s username, in leaderboards or any other places in the LMS (learning management system) where usernames are displayed. Badges boost learner ego, and let learners boast about them in front of colleagues.

  1. Levels

Most games have levels. A ‘level up’ occurs usually when a gamer/learner gains a certain number of points, completes a task, unlocks an achievement or reaches a specific stage in the game or course. Leveling up also usually means that the course or game is about to get harder. It also means the introduction or unlocking of new opportunities, new skills, new learning material or new modules or courses.

  1. Progress Bars

Progress bars give the learner a visual indication of how much of the course they have completed, and how much of the course is still left. Progress bars should be visually appealing, and should move smoothly with animations after every progress.

  1. Leaderboards

Leaderboards are one of the most important gamification mechanics, as they propagate healthy competition. They are basically tables with the names of top 10 (or top 20) highest scorers in the game/course. Leaderboards are used to display learners with the most points, most badges, most progress, highest level. Top scorers gain the opportunity to boast in front of their colleagues, but could also gain a badge or an achievement.

  1. Rewards

Rewards could be anything from points, badges, levels, appearances on leaderboards, the advancement of a progress bar to even branded merchandise which are offered when the learner either accumulates a certain number of points, reaches a particular level, progresses to a certain stage in the course, or passes an assessment or evaluation.

  1. Learner Interactions

Interacting with other team members is something that has become a prominent feature in a number of games recently. Interacting with other players/learners can be a really powerful motivator, whether they are cooperating, competing, discussing new skills and new ideas, or just showing off their accomplishments. There should be a chat option in the game/course, and learners should also be encouraged to discuss courses on office’s social media groups or personal groups.

In order to integrate all of the above mentioned game mechanics in your eLearning course, you require a powerful LMS. That is something that should be kept in mind when going for gamified eLearning courses.


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7 Gamification Techniques For Corporate Training That Work

While gamification has been in use for corporate training for several years, there is still a lingering doubt on its impact. In this article, I share 7 gamification techniques for corporate training that work!

What Gamification Techniques For Corporate Training Still Work?

Gamification techniques use elements and principles of gaming to create an engaging learning experience. Some of the associated gains are:

  • Higher learner motivation (to participate and complete).
  • Higher engagement levels.

Gamification techniques can be effectively used to:

  • Have fun and learn.
  • Apply their learning on the job (by providing them practice zones featuring scenarios, similar to what they will handle in real life. Here, the learners can practice and hone their skills in a safe environment).
  • A longer-term implementation of gamification techniques can influence behavioral change.

So, How Can You Make Gamification Techniques Work In Corporate Training?

Let’s take a step back and identify what the expected gains are from any learning strategy.

Your list is likely to read that it should be:

  1. Motivating
  2. Engaging
  3. Relevant and relatable (preferably personalized)
  4. Challenging
  5. Rewarding

It must:

  1. Create sticky learning
  2. Facilitate the application of learning
  3. Provide room for practice and proficiency gain
  4. Provide reinforcement to ensure the “forgetting curve” does not step in
  5. Trigger behavioral change

How You Can Use Gamification Techniques For Corporate Training To Influence Each Aspect

  1. Step 1
    Identify barriers (intrinsic or extrinsic) that might be hindering the required changes and thereby improve the learners’ motivation levels.
  2. Step 2
    Generate interest in learning by providing relevant and personalized learning paths.
  3. Step 3
    Create effective learning experience using scenarios, simulations, and challenges.
  4. Step 4
    Provide feedback for performance improvement that can help learners pause and think or recalibrate their way forward.
  5. Step 5
    Use rewards and recognition to sustain the learners’ momentum and motivation, and ensure that learners walk away with a sense of accomplishment.
  6. Step 6
    Implement repetition and reiteration for successful change in behavior.

What Is the Impact You Will See If You Apply the Right Gamification Technique For Corporate Training?

Through the right gamification technique, you can:

  1. Create a sticky learning experience
  2. Provide reinforcement (to offset the “forgetting curve”)
  3. Ensure the successful application of learning on the job
  4. Influence or trigger the desired behavioral change

How Can This Value Be Delivered?

At EI Design, our gamification practice is nearly 5 years old. During these years, we have created successful corporate trainings that have leveraged on gamification techniques at several levels, including:

  1. Partial gamification (to enhance traditional eLearning courses)
  2. Gamified aids to support ILT
  3. Gamified learning path
  4. Game-based learning
  5. Gamified portals

Our Next Gen gamification techniques build up from the success of the current approaches. For instance,

  • Instead of just having simple badges and leaderboards for each challenge, you can put the learner through a more complex narrative that can truly challenge him or her. The narrative is selected based on the content type, learner profile, and is aligned to the learning goals.
  • Personalization holds the key to the learner’s attention, engagement, and motivation. You can use mobile apps for learning to offer a personalized learning path that is aligned to the learner’s goals. Thereby, it is relevant and more engaging.
  • You can use a combination of learning strategies to gain higher impact. For instance, the usage of immersive techniques like a Virtual Reality (VR)-driven learning path that is gamified will surely multiply the impact and help you meet the learning goals.

7 Next Gen Gamification Techniques For Corporate Training

You can opt for the following 7 Next Gen gamification techniques for corporate training and achieve your mandates successfully:

1. Longer-Term Gamification

Behavioral change requires the use of gamification over a long period of time. You can use this longer-term learning path to have milestones over successive weeks/months/quarters.

2. Periodic Checkpointing Of Learners’ Progress

Alongside, plan for a periodic assessment of learners’ progress (against the required outcomes) that can range from learning acquisition, its application, or a behavioral change.

3. Multiply The Impact

To make the learning journey more engaging, you can add immersive approaches like Virtual Reality or wearable tech in your fold.

4. Leverage On Microlearning-Based Gamification

Give the learners a “bite-sized” gamification experience.

5. Personalized Gamification

Offer personalized learning and gaming paths for learners.

6. Social Media-Based Gamification

Let the learners collaborate with peers or experts and address challenges or solve problems, much the same way they need to in real life.

7. Invest On Niche Gamification Portals

These can be designed to offer customized learning paths and elements of gamification, microlearning, and social learning.

This Seems To Be Too Good To Be True; Is There A Catch?

Over the years, I have seen several views (or misconceptions) associated with gamification techniques for corporate training.

I share 5 myths and contrast them with facts to highlight how you can make gamification techniques effectively work for corporate training.

Myths And Facts #1

  • Myth
    Gamification in eLearning doesn’t really help learners learn.
  • Fact
    Gamification is not just about having fun. Much like traditional eLearning, it can be used to meet specific learning outcomes.

As I have highlighted, you can map the learning goals to a gamified approach to gain better engagement. It also creates a far more sticky learning experience. The use of gamification techniques over a period of time will influence learner behavior as well.

Myths And Facts #2

  • Myth
    Gamification cannot drive learner performance.
  • Fact
    Several aspects of learning, including retention, an application on the job, as well as behavioral change can be influenced by gamification.

The Next-Gen gamification techniques for corporate training (highlighted earlier in the article) show you exactly how this can be achieved. 

Myths And Facts #3

  • Myth
    Gamification doesn’t provide real value to learners and businesses.
  • Fact
    Both learners and businesses see value in this approach at several levels.

Learners love it as learning is fun, challenging, and rewarding. L&D teams find value in it on account of its wide application across varied corporate training needs. The correct gamification technique can help them deliver their goals (learning, its application, or behavioral change).

Myths And Facts #4

  • Myth
    Gamification can’t drive learning.
  • Fact
    Gamification can provide an effective approach to drive learning.

This is on account of its inherent features that resonate with learners and help them perform better.

Myths And Facts #5

  • Myth
    Gamification appeals only to Millennials.
  • Fact
    The correct usage of gamification techniques will ensure that it will be well received across the multi-generational workforce.

I hope this article will help you use gamification techniques extensively for your corporate training and my 7 gamification techniques for corporate training will help you make it work well for you.

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Custom eLearning Interactivity On How To Tie The Kelvin Knot

Be it a pharmaceutical industry, manufacturing industry or retail industry, custom eLearning interactions are the most desired interactivities while all they consider fulfilling the learners’ needs is playing the vital role in the company’s success. Articulate Storyline gives a power of custom interactions that let the learners play with the content while gaining the knowledge…

Recommended Reading Summary: A Chapter of “From Practice Fields to Communities of Practice”

Last October, I posted some recommended reading that complemented one of my classes on gamification.  I’ve since started writing chapter summaries (here is the first one) so people can “preview” some of the great books out there and hopefully end up reading them!

Here is this month’s chapter summary.  The full chapter is available for free on Sasha Barab’s web site and I highly recommend it.

Chapter 2: From Practice Fields to Communities of Practice by Sasha Barab and Thomas Duffy (2012).

There are a range of opinions and positions within the constructivist and situativity communities regarding even the basic concepts laid out in this text. The term situativity is now more commonly used than constructivism, and it alludes to the fact that knowledge is situated through experience. There have been radical shifts in thinking in recent years that have resulted in the study of social and cultural factors that influence learning.

Situative perspectives typically consider the practice of and learning of a subject to be closely related processes, rather than two independent focuses. The text explores how to create a more supportive learning environment for students and what it means to learn as a member of a social group or community. These concepts are considered within the school environment, and it is assumed that the learner’s perception of the school environment will influence their overall learning experience.

Past learning approaches were built with the assumption that learning allows the learner to acquire knowledge, which is essentially a series of symbols. Cognitive activity utilizes the symbols to perform computations, which we define as thinking. Current learning approaches consider the value of social participation and the influence of anthropology on the overall learning experience. The framework provided by social interaction creates valuable context for knowledge.

Without context, learning provides abstract knowledge that is not easily applied to problems outside of the classroom. Rather than teaching abstract concepts, it is more effective to engage a learner in authentic tasks that use the skills and concepts being taught. It can be helpful to group learners in terms of the practice fields that apply to them, and then engage them in working on real-world problems within that field.

Problem based learning (PBL) focuses on capturing a real world problem that can be analyzed and solved by the learner. Cognitive apprenticeship is an approach related to PBL that involves a learner working alongside and observing how an expert in their field approaches and solves problems.
For a problem solving exercise to be fully useful, the learner must be actively engaged, feel the problem is worth solving, and the associated thinking skills must be coached and modeled. The dilemma must be ill structured and not overly simplified. The setting must be social and collaborative. It’s important that the learning environment not over emphasize scoring and grades. If student success is purely measured on the individual’s ability to perform well on exams, learners may form communities of practice (“nerds,” “burnouts,” etc.) based on levels of performance rather than academic interests.

According to the text, communities of practice should focus on the development of self through engagement in the community. Communities should be comprised of individuals who share practices, beliefs, and understandings. They should work together over time in pursuit of common goals. Because the group stays together long term, incorporates new members, and solves many problems, shared experience is established and an ecology of learning comes into existence.

Senior members influence and pass along knowledge to junior members, who have the opportunity to absorb not just information but the processes used by senior members to solve problems. Once a group member becomes versed in a task, they are able to pass knowledge along to more junior members, and the junior members may pass their opinions or findings back to the person who taught them, creating a cycle of learning. It is healthy to bring in outside experts to enhance the group’s knowledge and provide outside views, so that the group doesn’t become overly invested in a specific set of opinions and skills. There is a distinct difference between a group of people who come together temporarily to solve a specific problem, and a community of practice, where individuals receive value from long term shared experience.

Community members should depend on each other, work together, and recruit new members so the community is able to continue over time. It is sometimes necessary to negotiate the meaning of the group. If community members disagree over the purpose of the community, evolution may occur. This is a constructive process that ensures the community of practice continues to be of value to its current members.

A member’s participation in the community will eventually influence and become intertwined with their sense of self. This means the community of practice may provide the learner with much more than knowledge – it may in fact provide the learner with self esteem, confidence, and a sense of belonging, which may positively influence the learner as well as their ability to contribute to the group. If a community isolates itself from the rest of the world, its framework and influence may become weaker. A community that regularly interacts with the outside world will recruit new members and benefit from ideas developed by other communities.

The process of learning can influence an individual’s sense of identity if the process takes place within a community with which the learner identifies. In addition, learning within a community of practice allows a student to understand what it may be like to work in a related field, and decide whether that is something that would appeal to them as a career. The problems or assignments provided to the learner are a means to an end in the sense that they allow the learner to fully explore the subject at hand and its value to them as an individual. The goal of learning should be to produce knowledgeable users rather than usable knowledge, as the text states.

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[Free Webinar #2!] Convert Classroom Training to Blended Learning Using Your Creativity and Adobe Technology

I recently did a webinar on this topic.  (Check out the recording and the slideshare.)  We had an awesome group who shared tons of ideas, so we’re going to do the webinar one more time!  Join us on April 2 at 9AM Pacific.

Register for free with eLearning Industry.

If you just can’t get enough of blended learning, come to my keynote session at ATD’s New England Area Conference on March 29.  We’d love to see you!

Convert Classroom Training To Blended Learning Using Your Creativity & Adobe Technology

Blended learning is a common buzz phrase in L&D, and it’s one that deserves attention. Using a blended learning approach means providing course content in a variety of formats – including videos, games, virtual reality (VR) activities, basic documents, and eLearning courses! You may mix and match many delivery formats in order to create a learning environment that is engaging and cost-effective.

Blended learning courses often include classroom or virtual classroom training experiences. But other content is used to augment and enhance the classroom. You may even deliver the same course content in multiple delivery formats so learners can choose how they want to learn. Blended learning gives L&D professionals the flexibility to use every type of course content in order to best serve the learner’s needs.

Katrina Marie Baker, Senior Learning Evangelist at Adobe, will provide food for thought on the following points:

  • Benefits of blended learning as they relate to the learner and organization
  • A cost comparison of 100% instructor-led training (ILT) versus blended learning
  • How to incorporate classroom experiences with other types of course content to engage learners
  • Ways learning technology can add value and make it easier to develop and deliver blended learning
  • Understand how the Fluidic player can help you leverage fully blended courses in your training programs

Group discussion will take place throughout the session.

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E-Learning Variables 101

Building e-learning courses is usually a matter of pulling together the appropriate content, visuals, and some level of interactivity. Most courses I see are linear with some simple interactions like tabs and labeled graphics.

However, there’s a way to make e-learning content and the learning experience more dynamic when using variables. Variables help create custom user experiences such as personalized visuals, conditional navigation, and adaptive learning paths.

The challenge for many e-learning developers (who aren’t experienced programmers) is learning more about variables and how to use them.

Today’s post is a recap of some previous getting started content that introduces the basics of working with variables, a few practice activities, and additional resources.

Also, be sure to check out our upcoming e-learning workshops below. I just added a bunch of new sessions.

Learn About Variables for E-Learning

Here are some previous blog posts that go through the basics of variables and how to use them.

Practice Activities to Learn About Variables for E-Learning

Here are some resources from previous workshops where we learn to use variables in a simple gamified context. There’s a published version with practice files and a series of tutorials that go through each slide individually. If you want to practice using variables and need some resources, this is a good place to start. You’ll only learn to use them when you use them.

variables 101 for e-learning example

See a published example.


E-Learning Community Activities to Practice Using Variables

Here some recent challenges to practice using variables in real-world contexts. Even if you can’t participate, look at some of the examples shared by community members.

Tutorials to Learn About Variables for E-Learning

variables 101 for e-learning

If you haven’t used variables before, now’s a good time to get started. If you do use variables, what do you find to be the most common use cases in your projects?

Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

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