February 01, 2019
2019 Learning Trends and Predictions, Pt. 1

2019 Learning Trends and Predictions, Pt. 1

By: Greg Kozera

Check out our 2019 Trends and Predictions webinar with Greg Kozera!

Around year-end, the L&D industry puts forth an avalanche of content reflecting on the past (2018 State of the L&D Industry) and predicting future trends (2019 L&D Future Trends.) Our customers return from holiday to inboxes that would make Marie Kondo squeal and clap with joy. The purpose of this two-part blog series from ELM is to help tidy things up. We’ll summarize what we know and what’s out there. Then we’ll talk about how you can apply this knowledge to your corporate learning strategies.

Anecdotal Evidence: We Hear You Loud and Clear

Below are some challenges ELM customers brought to us in 2018. We think these issues will come up again for the L&D Industry in 2019.  

Lacking resources. In spite of all these imperative demands, they often felt they lacked the resources and/or skills to accomplish them.

Organizing the Data: State of the L&D Industry 2018

LinkedIn recently published their very informative 2018 Workplace Learning ReportThe takeaway: corporations want digital learning that doesn’t stink. All kidding aside, we’ve whittled those fifty-one pages down to a few neat piles.

The #1 Priority in 2018: Soft Skills Training

In 2018 we saw a sharp rise in demand for soft skills, for example, positive leadership and inclusivity training. Andrew Fayad, CEO of ELM, recently wrote a piece on the effect of artificial intelligence on the learning industry. The gist is that software automation has slowly been replacing certain technical jobs, thereby creating a greater demand in the workplace for distinctly human skills.

Solution: Blended Learning for Soft Skills

We at ELM believe soft skills can’t be taught 100 percent digitally—at least not with the technology we’re using right now. To teach them, we need to blend in social learning with digital training. One way is to use live scenarios to practice and grow what the audience learns online.

Employees are Resistant to Learning

In 2018, traditional corporate learning remained segregated from everyday work with learning management systems (LMS’s), onsite instruction, or both. The biggest pushback from learners was having to find the time and energy during a busy workday to log into a separate system or attend a live training.   

Solution: Reducing the Friction to Learn

Learning should be an organic, frictionless process. The industry can bring micro learning into the products workers already make heavy use of during their workdays. If employees are using chat apps to communicate every day, then L&D teams might meet them where they’re at by using those apps as learning tools.

By the Time We Create the Learning, It’s Outdated!

People in our industry were frustrated in 2018 because creating and launching a training can take up to a year. By the time it’s done and enrolled, it’s either irrelevant to learners, outdated or lacks new information they need right now!

For learning experience design teams in 2018, the often year-long process of creating and launching trainings made them feel like they were patching holes in a leaky boat. Every industry is challenged by rapid growth and development and tasked with training workers to keep up. Under a cumbersome process, by the time a training is done and enrolled, it’s full of holes—either irrelevant to learners, outdated or lacks new information they need right now!

Solution: Predicting and Training For Future Skills

Preparing for the future requires a proactive rather than a reactive approach. By thinking about your company’s long-term goals, you can plan for the skills employees will need and train them for the future. Yes, there is risk involved in prediction (that’s part two of this blog). But that’s ok because pioneers become experts.

Solution: Design-thinking Approach

Our industry can reduce risk by rapidly prototyping. By adding an extra step at the beginning of a project, this agile, design-thinking approach allows teams to test the waters before they invest a lot more time and money into a project.  By also designing curriculum in modules, pieces can be removed, updated or revised without scrapping the entire thing.

Employees aren’t retaining this stuff.

Our industry is often guilty of saying to learners, “Here’s your eLearning. Go do it.” Then, they’re shocked when people can’t remember a thing. We have massive amounts of data proving that’s not how people learn! Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on training destined to fail?

Solution: Management Needs to Be More Involved

Managers need to get involved by checking up on learners’ progress. This keeps people accountable, like when our high school teachers threatened to collect our homework the next day, so we did it. Most humans aren’t intrinsically motivated unless the reward is intensely meaningful to them alone, like a prisoner who earns a law degree to argue for his freedom. For the rest of us, we need external motivation. Managers don’t have to take a punitive approach, of course, but they can motivate in the form of encouragement, so employees don’t fall back into old ways.

We hope we’ve saved you some time with our tidy summary and you can start deleting all those emails you’ve been putting off reading. We’ve packed this blog post with hyperlinks, so if you get the urge, click away for more information. Check out our second post in this series, where we break down the top trends in the L&D Industry for 2019 and explore their relevance to your corporate learning goals.


Greg Kozera is the Director of Creative Learning Design here at ELM. He helps fortune 500’s implement effective digital learning strategies that help in creating outcomes that achieve business objectives. He also leads research & development at ELM, where we experiment with combining insights from modern cognitive theory and design theory to create learning experiences that aid in memory retention, positively affect learner outcomes, and dare we say also be entertaining, and intuitive, and appealing.


Britney Sharp is a Junior Designer at ELM Learning.

Categories: L&D Industry

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