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Online Learning Trends For 2021 – The Hubken View

3 min reading time

If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us it’s that online learning is no longer just an add-on function for more enlightened organisations.

E-learning is an absolute essential in a world where the shift towards remote working is likely to be permanent.

Granted, if we’d forecasted online learning trends for 2020, we wouldn’t have factored in the likely impacts of a pandemic, but we can confidently predict that these 5 trends are only going to develop in 2021. Here’s some food for thought to help you take advantage of the changes ahead:


Trend 1 – Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) will go mainstream:

LXPs have been around for some years but have yet to become as well known or widely used as LMSs. LXPs open up a range of new possibilities for the way your teams learn.

Whereas LMSs tend to be used to ‘push’ formal learning (e.g. compliance training) to learners, LXPs enable informal learning by giving people more control of the way they learn.

Totara Engage is a new LXP

It’s about personalising learning experiences as well as enhancing opportunities for social learning.

Totara Engage is a new LXP with benefits including:

  • Learners can create their own ‘playlists’ of content that can be shared with their peers.
  • Collaborative workspaces bring people with shared or complimentary aims or specialities together enabling peer-to-peer learning.
  • Learners can receive rewards and feedback from peers who are able to like, share and comment on the learning content of others.
  • A learning catalogue and recommendation engine makes finding content on any subject easy and machine learning will present learners with tailored recommendations for more.
HubSpot Video

Rather than being a replacement for the LMS we believe LXPs represent an exciting way to broaden the way people learn by bringing an informal, ‘in the stream of work’ way to develop your teams.


Trend 2 – Video assisted learning:

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in April 2020 46.6% of people in employment did some work from home and 86% of those who are working from home gave the Coronavirus pandemic as a main reason.

Working from home

Most commentators agree that increased homeworking is here to stay.

Many of the people now working at home are likely to have attended face-to-face training sessions previously. For this reason, we feel it is essential that L&D teams incorporate more video assisted learning into their training programmes and we think they will!

Video assisted learning into their training programmes

Modern e-learning platforms should enable integrations with popular communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom as well as other video conferencing tools and plug ins.


Trend 3 – Performance management goes informal:

For years, the orthodoxy for performance management has been to have formal annual appraisals and perhaps 1-2-1s throughout the year.

The problem of this approach can be that it isn't integrated into the day to day and in the worst cases can become nothing more than a tick box exercise. Something to be endured by staff and managers alike.

Performance management

By partitioning performance reviews into scheduled timeslots there’s a danger of issues not being identified, and supportive measures not being put in place until reviews take place. Potentially letting performance issues drag on too long.

The latest performance management platforms like the new Totara Perform solution provide a flexible structure for managing both formal and informal performance reviews.

HubSpot Video

You can align staff development with company objectives, and create bespoke performance development pathways for individuals and teams. People are different so the way their performance is managed has to be flexible. 


Trend 4 – Gamification benefits all:

Gamification, which Wikipedia defines as ‘The application of game-design elements and game principles into non-game contexts’, is hardly a new concept.

With the growing trend towards informal learning however, we believe its usage will grow in 2021.

Gamification, when done well, kills two birds with one stone:

  1. It increases learner engagement by bringing a fun / challenge element to e-learning.
  2. It enables learning administrators to assess levels of knowledge based on learner performance in different knowledge-based games.

Gamification benefits

There are countless plug-ins designed for LMSs like Moodle that allow an element of gamification to be introduced into learning.

Rather than making the learning process frivolous we believe that when implemented properly gamification is a powerful way to enhance your team’s knowledge retention and performance (while putting a smile on their face).


Trend 5 – User generated content:

Recent years have seen fewer companies using external suppliers to produce bespoke e-learning content.

The reason is simple – employees can often do the same job better. Afterall, no one knows your business better than your employees.

As we explained in the first trend newer technologies are making it easier than ever for employees to create and share their own learning content.

Create and share their own learning content

Think for example how much of the knowledge in your organisation sits in the mind of just a few specialists.

That’s not only a risk should those people leave, it’s also a waste because specialist knowledge, widely shared makes for a more productive and skilled workforce.

Want to discuss any of these or other ways to transform your e-learning approaches in 2021? Get in touch with Hubken.



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