5 ways that learning content is changing

By Amelia Fuell

Colourful image of a head made up of boxes which are moving and evolving into something elseIn our recent whitepaper, ‘The Future of Learning Content‘ we investigated the ways in which learning content was evolving, as well as the implications for L&D departments, and the practical steps they might take to create a winning content strategy. Here are some insights taken from the whitepaper around how content is changing.

Technological innovation is changing the ways that we produce, deliver and consume learning content. The traditional self-paced e-learning course is in decline, and we are moving towards a mobile-centric, multi-format digital-learning paradigm where learner engagement is key. Here are the main 5 ways we found that content is changing:

1.The shift in the focus or purpose of content.

The focus of learning content is changing fundamentally, shifting from the needs of the L&D department (which are often compliance-driven) to the learner and their business and career context. Self-directed learners expect their L&D departments to be enable learning rather than direct it. They expect personalised content, digital and social learning, and learning on demand through mobile devices. In the context of digital skills shortages, L&D is playing a vital role in employer branding for talent attraction and retention.

2.The change in patterns of content consumption

Traditionally, learning was a one-off event – a course, a module or a workshop – but now learning is conceived as more of a process, one that is continuous and needs to be reinforced over time. Repetition, after all, helps improve information retention. Continuous learning and improvement is becoming more relevant as the ‘half-life’ of skills (the time after which 50% of learned content is irrelevant) decreases with technological progress[1]. Consuming content in bitesize, regular chunks (‘micro’ or ‘nano’ learning) is also more suited to the learner in a world of digital overload and short attention spans. Finally, regular learning campaigns can help improve learner engagement and employer branding, leading to higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention.

3.The explosion of new content types and formats

Technology has enabled new and creative ways of delivering content, and the course, previously the default unit of instruction, is losing its dominance. The use of video in learning is on the rise, as are infographics, e-books and checklists. The global mobile learning market is growing fast[2], as learning on the go via mobile devices becomes the expected delivery platform. These trends point to a decline in legacy e-learning content and towards material that has been repackaged to serve digital-native learners more effectively.

4.The proliferation of new sources of content

Content is everywhere, driven by smartphones and near ubiquitous connectivity. YouTube, Facebook, Google and MOOCs, as well as an expanding market of learning content vendors, are all within easy reach. Technology is enabling more user-generated content across all platforms. Although more content sources can be a benefit, it can also overload leaners and make it harder for L&D to ensure quality and control. Focusing on content curation rather than content creation is where L&D can add the most value.

5.The emergence of a new generation of content delivery platforms (LMS)

LMS are renowned for being clunky, out of date and unsupportive of L&D goals, but this is changing. Innovations include the greater use of analytics and reporting, gamification, mobile and social features, integration with other systems – such as a CRM (customer relationship management) or external off-the-shelf (OTS) content providers – and significantly more user-friendly interfaces. In the future we may see virtual reality, augmented reality, simulations, and integration with wearables or location-based services becoming more mainstream.

Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2017 report, found that when it comes to learning, the focus of organisations is changing; to creating the environment and systems that allow employees to learn and re-learn on the go, in the way they choose. They argue that L&D departments should seamlessly integrate internal and external content into learning platforms in reaction to the explosion of free online content “Ironically, as legacy L&D responsibilities become less relevant, the opportunities for L&D to be more relevant have never been greater. L&D organizations that become flexible content curators rather than rigid content creators have the potential to become highly valued business partners.”

This supports the key implications of our findings, that L&D should focus on content curation rather than content creation, and that working with a MLS provider is key. A good MLS partnership can help L&D departments not only alleviate the problems presented by the proliferation of content, but take advantage of the changing nature of learning content to enable self-directed learning, thereby increasing learner engagement and realising business goals.

To read the full report, and learn how L&D departments should best react to changes in learning content to produce a winning content strategy, download our free whitepaper here.

[1] John Seeley-Brown and Douglas Thomas: ‘A New Culture of Learning’

[2] Markets and Markets 2015: Mobile Learning Market

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