Rather than focus on industry trends, I thought it might be valuable to stop and take a look at the trending changes in how learning experience practitioners work and think. Changes in these practices and mindsets tend to build up through the years until they reach a tipping point and become the new standard.
Multiple factors are affecting how we now work and think about our roles, such as:
- ubiquitous technology (personal and professional),
- reduced importance of memorizing information when it can be looked up,
- acknowledgement that traditional one-time interventions are not effective,
- increased sharing and conversation about research and new techniques,
- and a workforce that is overburdened with lengthy training.
Here are the trends I’ve been seeing, reading and hearing about. What about you? Please add to this list in Comments.
1. Integrating Learning with Work
Many practitioners are trying to bring the designed learning experience as close to the job as possible. There is a growing consensus that isolated training interventions are not as effective as integrated ones. There are many kinds of integration strategies—from traditional mentoring to mobile apps and augmented learning experiences. Integration is a logical approach for organizations that want to decrease the time employees spend in isolated training away from work. Work-learning integration is also more attuned to human cognitive characteristics, as it appears to decrease cognitive load. See this research on complex learning (van Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005) and the book, Ten Steps to Complex Learning.
2. From Instructional Designer to Learning Experience Designer
Does a name matter? I think it does. Learning experience designer, rather than instructional designer, is creeping into the vocabulary of practitioners. This is not just a change in title, but a change in how we perceive our mission, responsibility and practices. LX Design implies a user-centric and holistic approach to solutions. It is a focus on experience and context more than materials. Read more about the meaning of the name change. Many others are writing about learning experience design too, such as these articles from the worlds of Educational Technology and UX Design.
3. ADDIE Who?
There is a greater interest in contemporary instructional design models over waterfall models, like ADDIE. Designers and developers in other fields have been using Agile approaches for years and it looks like learning experience design is reaching the tipping point. Why? In the modern workplace, situations and content may change rapidly. Agile models meet the needs of the modern workplace using prototyping, short cycles of iterative development and a focus on performance. To learn more about other models, see: the Successive Approximation Model and Leaving ADDIE for SAM, Applying Agile Principles to eLearning Projects and the strategies in Map It!
4. Embracing Design Thinking
Design Thinking shares a lot with Agile models, but it’s focus is on empathizing with users and generating creative solutions. Since creativity is a mystery and often a mental block, Design Thinking is a method that can assist the Design Phase of any model. It’s gaining in popularity among learning professionals. FYI: I’m facilitating a full day certificate workshop in Design Thinking at the Learning Solutions Conference 2018.
5. Increased Awareness of Universal Design
No, we’re not there yet but the conversation has started. Practitioners are becoming more aware of the value and moral imperative of inclusive design. Not only is this an important principle for any society, but accessible design results in improvements for everyone (think of how wheelchair curb cuts are also good for baby strollers).
As consumers in our professional life, we need to let vendors know that this is a deciding factor in our choice of commercial tools. Listen to this podcast (or read the transcript) on accessibility. Also, see Selecting and Using Authoring Tools for Web Accessibility.
6. Working Out Loud Circles
Learning and Development professionals are forming Working Out Loud Circles. This is a practice that’s growing out of the Working Out Loud phenomenon. WOL Circles, as they are called, are small support groups of peers that build relationships and help each other learn to work out loud to reach a personal goal. For 12-weeks, they participate in structured activities that many say is transformational in building a collaborative culture, new habits and changed mindsets. Read more in John Steppers book, Working Out Loud and online, Working Out Loud Circles. Also, you may find these WOL Circle diary entries interesting. For some context, listen to this interview with Jane Bozarth on Why You Should Show Your Work.
7. Seeing the Value in Metrics
Now, more than ever, LX designers are thinking about ways to measure and evaluate performance in the workplace using data analytics. There is new interest in revealing valuable data about: activities that can be tracked, the best approaches for changing behavior, preventable errors, and so much more. This increased focus on analytics follows the growth and acceptance of the xAPI standard. Once xAPI is implemented and analyzed, learning professionals can get data-based feedback and insight into the effectiveness of their solutions. For a comprehensive book on using xAPI, see Investigating Performance. For an intro to xAPI, listen to The Limitless Possibilities of xAPI.
8. Openness to All Types of Learning Experiences
At this point in time, you can probably rattle off ten types of learning experiences that may not have existed or had been little known a decade ago. This phenomenon allows people in the L&D community to think more broadly and to design solutions that better meet the needs of the 21st century workforce. Blended learning is now a multi-layered solution that results from a holistic look at a performance problem. In addition to classroom and online learning, a few of the experiences that can now be part of the blend include: augmented reality, blogging, chats and forums, chatbots, collaborative learning, communities of practice, digital curation, games, gamification, interactive video, learning portals, mobile apps, mobile learning, personalized learning, podcasts, social media learning, text messages, working out loud and virtual reality.
Download the Learning Experience Design Trends 2018 Infographic.