2016 Trends in L+D and how to make the most of them

I wasn’t going to write an obligatory end of year/predictions for next year post, but then read this one and and liked how they added the “how to make the most of them” part, so I guess you could say I was inspired. Here’s my list of what I think might influence E-Learning in 2016.

Five Tech Trends for L+D to check out in 2016

1. HTML5 Tools

The rise of responsive HTML5 tools.This has been a raging debate in the industry for at least a couple of years, but we believe 2016 will be the year that these tools really start to go mainstream. While I would agree that there is a need to have modern tools that support modern devices, I also think that instructional designers should not just pump out courses that work on any device, but respect the use cases that each device would demand. We advocate that tablets are much like desktops, but smartphones (even the big ones) are not used like desktops, but as performance support devices. While there’s been much noise around the death of Flash, the HTML5 trend is a market change, not a technology change. The market is ready, the tools are more WYSIWIG, so everything is primed for lift off. We’ve been waiting for xAPI to become mainstream and with wearables and the increase of responsive tools, this could be it’s breakout year. A long shot, but something to at least try out.

How can you make the most of this trend?

Jump in and try some out. Pick a small project that you have time to experiment with or collaborate with a colleague.

Our input: as much as I wanted to try Adapt, the install on the authoring tool is just too daunting, so will try out Easy Generator and H5P instead.

2. Video, video everywhere

In L+D this means: blab, periscope, narrative, go pro, google jump, and other ways to either record or stream media. In the consumer world, streaming is mainstream, but for L+D, we are not really there yet, except Learning Now TV and some other industry programs or individuals who are doing it. To be a “Youtuber” is now a legitimate profession. The number of Netflix competitors is on the rise. Video has been around a long time, so in 2016 I think it’ll make up a larger portion of the content that we’ll produce or assemble.

How can you make the most of this trend?

Again, experiment. Keep your eye out for a project that would really benefit from this type of dynamic video or streaming approach. You can use an existing smartphone, so the barrier to entry is time and skill.

Our input: Blab is an easy start, it’s much like Google Hangouts or Skype video. Jump on a blab to see if there’s potential for you.

3. Virtual Reality

All the pundits agree that this is the THE trend for 2016. Hardware will begin hitting the market and this is likely to be a consumer product trend as well in 2016. In L+D we could certainly see it used for more than gaming. The ability to create a fully immersive experience is essential for some areas of training (medical education) and it could be a tool for other industries as well.

How can you make the most of this trend?

Start with a Google Cardboard – this allows you to use your phone within a cardboard VR environment to begin to see the possibilities of how you might see this working in your L+D world. Even the NYTimes is giving away these sets to immerse readers in select stories. I wouldn’t suggest we all run out and buy Unity to begin building our own apps or games, but consider getting your hands on a low-end set to begin seeing the potential of this technology.

Our input: honestly, just start with a google cardboard unit, a $20 investment, and see what all the fuss is about. That’s what we’re doing. Also, read Donald Clark’s blog posts who has been writing around this topic for some time.

4. Podcasting

This seems to be making a comeback – everywhere I go, people are talking about it. It may be driven by the unexpected success of Serial, but there’s a resurgence – people starting their own and listening to them again. And, since many people are talking about tech cars and the influence Tesla has had on the automotive industry, I think we’ll see more innovation of media integrating in cars. So, not just radios or your own music, but the ability to subscribe to podcasts from your car dashboard.

How can you make the most of this trend?

If you are so inclined, you can try out podcasting, or just start listening to a few. The beauty of podcasting, is the isolation of content to an audio channel. You might learn about how to tell a great story, keep listeners engaged. Check out the NPR coming out with radio production websites for public consumption. I follow a number of “start up” thinkers and most of them avidly follow Marc Andreeesen, who’s VC firm (Andreessen Horowitz) has a podcast on soundcloud. When the techies start to go audio, then you know it’s a trend. If you are a runner, driver, or regular traveler, then check out podcasts. Share some of your recommendations. Or you can be like Brent Schlenker who is using blab as a type of podcast tool.

Our input: the value for us is more in the storytelling or the way podcasters put together information about their story, to add context and extra information.

5. Wearables and the Internet of Things

While this still seems to be considered a non-L+D innovation (and most people fear Big Brother when it comes to this), there are aspects that could impact adoption. Add in the xAPI connection and you could see some real innovation in delivering content and tracking performance.

How can you make the most of this trend?

Do some research and find out what the potential of wearables/IoT is for your work before you invest any time in tinkering or make friends with a tinkerer. It’s not about whether or not you can build a solution, it’s more about understanding the capabilities and seeing the potential. It might be beacons or mood trackers. It might be a watch or an RFID chip, but as this moves more towards consumer reality, it’ll seep into L+D too.

Our input: we’ve written several blog posts on this in 2015, so check them out to get a sense of how wearables could be used in the L+D world.

Things that seem to be fading:

Coding craze

While many people were on the coding bandwagon (confession: myself included), it turns out it’s harder than it seems to ADD coding to our already broad skill set. What L+D folks should know isn’t how to code (except for HTML, that would be useful), it’s what “code” actually means and know some folks who DO know how to code.

The uber-tool

I think that many E-Learning developers are looking for the uber-tool that will do everything. And perhaps it’s time we accept that does not exist. Putting your content into a magic software and expecting it to spit out a course for your desktop/laptop users, an app-like experience for tablet users and a performance support tool for phone users is a fool’s game. Consider some of your favorite providers – something like Evernote – is it the same product for all your devices? Nope. We need to be thinking of the same sort of thing. What are our users going to need to learn/recall from our content when using this device.


A couple of years ago, all anyone could talk about was MOOCs. In the corporate world, most people struggled to see the relevance or the logistics of how this structure would really be worth the effort. Overall, things have cooled on MOOC-mania and while they can still offer a way to deliver training, it won’t likely be in the corporate world. Unless you have a massive audience or some kind of generic skill that you are trying to reach/teach. So, stop spending all your time trying to figure out how to get on the bandwagon, because it’s time to get off.

So, that’s how we see things. What about you?