With improved technology and greater web access, the eLearning market has grown exponentially over the past few years. According to experts, it will continue to do so. While in 2015, the eLearning market was approximately worth $165 billion, between 2016 and 2023, experts predict five-percent growth. This means that by 2023, the eLearning market will exceed $240 billion globally. The US eLearning market alone was worth more than $27 billion at the end of 2016.
One of the primary factors that fueled this growing trend of digital learning is the smartphone boom over the last few years. The time people spend on their smartphones and other “smart” devices is steadily rising. According to a 2016 study, among working adults, 80 percent find online learning useful for advancing their careers. Of these, 50 percent download educational or informational apps.
The Gaps In eLearning And What to Do About Them
According to tech giant Bill Gates, there is a gap between conceptualization and implementation when it comes to technology in educational circles. In 2016, he asserted that while technology had started “to improve education,” it lacked the element of personalization. Technology must suit the needs of the users and must be tailored to help teachers and employers to improve the quality of education.
Another major problem in eLearning is users quitting courses and programs midway, either due to poor engagement or poor content. Instructional design can remedy this problem. Technical factors, such as the use of better images and breaking down content into smaller chunks, can make instructional design more engaging. However, it is personalization of instructional design that seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle. Fortunately, we have plenty of data at our disposal today to make that possible. For instance, if a student has a problem with visualizing objects in three-dimensional space, course content could be tailored to include virtual-reality to aid 3D visualization. Similarly, a student can indicate his Achilles heels for each subject, and the same could be tackled with multiple explanations and additional practice tests in course content.
Gamification is a popular approach in eLearning that has rapidly gained momentum, especially among the younger population. When done right, gamification creates an immersive learning experience that appeals to students and allows for prompt feedback and evaluations. Gamification has also become a lucrative tool in corporate learning and professional skill enhancement.
However, data suggests that adding an element of gamification to a course or a training program does not always yield great results. This often happens due to poor game design. Different courses have different requirements and goals, and the game design must cater to the particular project at hand. It is not enough for the games to be competitive and fun. The primary function of gamification is learning. So, it is more important that the model focuses on the goal and content of the project.
Another way to improve the impact of gamification, and eLearning in general, is to encourage learning in groups. People learn better and more efficiently when learning together. Gamification can encourage participation in virtual peer groups, which can lead to a more immersive learning experience.
A Data-Driven Approach Is Crucial
To improve eLearning tools – gamification, self-paced courses etc. – and incorporate them successfully into classrooms and companies, data-driven research is crucial. Instructional design and game design directly impact user engagement. For example, interactive tools increase participation and users learn more from shorter, informal videos. Developers should tailor instructional design according to audience preferences and be willing to make frequent improvements based on feedback.
Engagement Is the Keyword
In an age of “point-of-need” microlearning, digital learning and its interactive tools are indispensable. With the rise in the use of smartphones and tablets, eLearning offers ease of access. However, personalization - in terms of design, content, and other parameters - is crucial to promote higher adoption and engagement, of and with elearning solutions.