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10 Online Learning Trends That We Harness In Our Design

28 December 2021 | Article by Philip Wu

As technology advances, Grid_Synergy continually implements and offer relevant cutting-edge digital learning content and softwares to engage users - both young and old and to bring learning to another level.

At Grid_Synergy, we continually advance and refine our design learning techniques by paying attention to and implementing relevant cutting-edge digital learning research and trends that have taken hold of the online learning space. We believe in applying established learning design techniques grounded in solid research, while adapting to current trends that enhance the learning experience of our target users. Here are the 10 digital learning trends curated by Dr Luke Hobson, Senior Instructional Designer and Programme Manager at MIT, and Peter Shea, Director of Professional Development at Middlesex Community College, that we harness in our course designs.

1. Focusing on the human experience of learning

We prioritise the learner’s experience rather than play into the hype and convenience of the latest technology. This includes proper research and dialogue about learners’ mental well-being. We are mindful in putting learners first in our design. We recommend that instructors establish their presence in the online environment and maintain communications with the learners throughout the course. This is especially so for courses that run over a long duration. Communications may be in written or video format. Instructors who are able to ‘keep in touch’ with remote learners are generally able to gain high attendance.

2. Peer-reviewed activities as a learning method

Adult learners often value peer feedback and networking, but paradoxically dislike group work. The middle ground? Peer-reviewed activities.

Our course designs integrate peer review and feedback into the lesson in various forms of feedback mechanisms, which create a deeper engagement with the topic. At the same time, the process of generating peer feedback allows learners to naturally develop soft skills valued by employers, such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

3. Extended reality (XR)

At Grid_Synergy, we employ AR and VR technology into many of our designs. Extended reality (XR) amalgamates various ‘realities’, such as AR, VR and MR, making it a virtual space where the real world ‘meets’ digital content. This can be as simple and effective as an example given by Hobson: scanning your desk space into an Oculus headset and giving classes in that new extended reality.

4. Additional resource sections

Additional resource sections can be leveraged to create relevant and valuable learning experiences, such as adding a podcast to that section or additional performance support tools for authentic use at the workplace. The lack of time and attention span are common learner issues. Providing content in different formats allows the learning materials to adapt to learners’ lifestyles, allowing them to engage with the content in greater ease and flexibility.

5. Flexibility

Video games allow users to select a player level: beginner, intermediate or advanced. When sequence in learning is not strictly required in the course, flexibility in taking different paths of learning are provided. This allows learners to learn at a pace or with a method that best suits them. For example, a learner starting at an Intermediate version may switch to Beginner version if he finds it too challenging. According to Hobson, flexible learning experiences lead to higher participation and course completion.

6. Microlearning

Attention span for learning has reduced drastically. At Grid_Synergy, we believe in and implement microlearning whenever appropriate in our learning design. In this, we break down content to take 5 minutes or less to consume. This allows the working adult to learn as and when there are pockets of time rather than having to reserve time for a long course. It helps the busy working adults in faster completion and sense of accomplishment. We are also mindful of objectives and content that require rigour for deep learning and concentration and would thus take a longer duration for the desired outcome.

Micro-intervention, such as time-spaced reminders, may also be used to fight knowledge decay, according to Shea. The data we receive from such reminders are also useful in helping us refine our course content and learning techniques.

7. Artificial intelligence (AI)

In Grid_Synergy, we reimagine and explore with our clients the utilisation of AI in their learning space. One example of effective AI is the use of chatbots that answer frequently asked questions of specific topics. Learners get feedback in a timely manner, freeing up time for instructors and supervisors to work on higher-level tasks.

8. Informal learning networks

Community is a valuable learning tool. Digital learning experiences are prime spaces to collaborate, and the rising trend of informal learning networks exemplifies the learning benefits of building community. We work with clients to provide space for both formal and informal groups where employees and experts may interact, discuss, share knowledge and present cases and solutions. Group learning encourages better information retention, leading to higher course completion rates.

9. Short simulations

At Grid_Synergy, we develop short, interactive learning materials that simulates decision-making and problem-solving processes via methods such as branching scenarios. Such learning experiences allow users to engage more effectively with the content and develop greater application skills.

10. Learning analytics

Analysing learning data helps us understand and improve learning experiences so that we can design more effective courses and content that impact learners in the long run. Beyond conventional metrics such as course completion and attendance, we work with clients to implement tools that dissect learner data to observe subtler learning indicators, such as engagement, interaction and retention.

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