With the amount of travel that I do, I’ve come to identify some trends.  Having the hotel’s frequent awards program card gets you free internet. Even not having the card prior to arrival, but signing up online, gets you free internet.  

Free iced water mixed with cucumber slices or lemon or strawberries seems popular.  Especially with mini dixie like cups forcing you to stand there and look like a slob guzzling the ice water.

Buying extras like sodas, chips, etc. from their “market” is outrageous. And for some reason, there is often a convenience store nearby, which you don’t find until the night before you depart.

Lastly, wondering how cities allow taxis to not accept credit cards is shocking and those that do, what is with the default 20% tip?  I would think 3% would suffice, especially if they are taking you on a joy ride instead of taking you via the best route to get to your final location.

Those are the trends I am finding in my travel.  Perhaps you are finding similar ones.

They are like a nice glass of strawberry and apple slices ice water. They are like fresh cookies right out of the oven from yesterday and re-heated in the microwave.

They are your new BTF – “best trend forever”.

Trend 1 – Learning Mastery

It is in the latest buzz, but the buzz is not alone. Systems are starting to use the term to stipulate that their system provides a higher quality of mastery (learning) than anyone else.

While that sounds all nice and impressive, the way some of these systems are doing it, can make any training professional’s skin crawl.

You want learning mastery? Okay, just follow these steps

  1. Create a to do list with items that need to be completed each day, the learner enters the system
  2. This to do list is on the learner’s homepage – easy to be seen
  3. Each item in the list must be completed and in many cases numerous times – this builds up retention
  4. Once all the items are completed, a new list is developed
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 5 and rinse (okay, don’t rinse)

The problem with this trend is that it forces learners to do a checklist each day in the guise of boosting retention.  I don’t know about you, but having someone give you a to do list is not going to make me happy.  I have those every weekend, so why as an adult learner do I want it as a benefit to learning?

Anyway it is a trend and may the force of lists be with you.

Trend 2 Responsive mobile design

Another one on the rise for LMS vendors and honestly, e-learning vendors as a whole.  Basically it means that regardless of the mobile device, the screen will automatically change to reflect that device. 

So rather than have the LMS look squished on a smartphone it now looks similar to the way it does online except smaller.   Personally, I am a big fan of responsive mobile design.

Speaking of which,

Trend 3 Online/Offline synch

Joy to the world, all the learners and administrators, la la la.  You should be thrilled to know that my singing voice is really poor, so writing the song sounds so much better.

Anyway, this trend is gaining some steam and it is clear that vendors as a whole have finally realized three important items

  • More people are accessing systems via a mobile device, mostly tablets
  • People from a variety of industries are using tablets and are often not in Wi-Fi areas
  • People want to access their content, take courses, do assessments, and use their mobile app for a wide variety of items beyond the course capability BUT also want the ability to go offline and then when possible, go online

As a result, vendors who were anti- on/off synch are now working on it to become a reality.  Most are targeting Q4 of this year or Q1 of next year, but there are plenty who are in build mode as we speak with live dates by Sept/Oct. or earlier.

This is great stuff.  The big question now becomes with type of app do they use?  In other words:

  • Native app (which has to be built for each type of OS, so one for iOS, one for Android and so on)
  • HTML5 app (one app to rule them all, actually it is universal so it works on all OSs)

Right now, native app is leading the charge.  I’d love to see some HTML5 apps, but having vendors at least realize the importance of on/off synch and a self-contained app is a big win in my book.

Trends 4, 5 and 6

Zoom, Zoom, here they are:

  • I’ll take nine points Craig – “How many vendors are adding gamification?” – Good news, a lot.  It is on hyper overdrive. Expect it to hit warp drive by Q4 of this year and into Q1 next year. But already many vendors have added “game” to the system (snark, snark) or are launching within the next few months.
  • Video didn’t kill the radio star, rather it made them look more sharper and clearer.  Anyway, video courses both by consumers (clients of LMS vendors) and 3rd party content providers are showing up more and more.  But what those folks are facing are two big hurdles.
  1. The majority of systems cannot track the video to the extent of say a learner in a course.  The typical capabilities are how many times Juliette went into the video, how long was she in the video and the date of when she was in the video.  There is no bookmarking per se, not like a course, and you cannot extract a lot of details as you could with a course (depending on a system).
  2. Many vendors say they can accept a video course or video, but want it within an authoring tool wrapper.  Under this arrangement, the video can have a lot more tracking data, but that is because it is in an authoring tool course wrapper.

Fear not, there are vendors whose systems can do a lot more tracking and thus extract a lot more information than the typical bits out there right now.  There are more vendors in this category than there was at the start of the year, but it still has a long way to go.  On the bright side, video courses as noted above and videos in general are on the rise.

  •  Modern UI – This one is kicking into high gear with many more vendors finally seeing the light and changing their UI to a more modern and crisp look. That said, it is not universal. In other words, while they are making the learner side more modern, they often forget the admin side.  As a result it looks like a mish-mash.  One vendor I know has it the opposite, very modern admin side, just average learner side.

Despite seeing the light there are still a lot of vendors out there who feel that 1996 was a good year for design and want to keep their system looking that way.

 Trends 7 and 8

  •  (Trend 7) Increase in the number of vendors focusing on two really hot markets: a) Healthcare including medical care (which is actually slightly different), b) content providers – (this is often tossed into the B2B arena, so in that case you could say B2B market in general too – which would then make it three hot markets
  • (Trend 8) I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog or Linkedin E-Learning 24/7 group posting, but customer service and support is getting worse, so this is a really bad trend that has been this way for years. What makes it different now?  It is actually getting worse. I still don’t understand how this issue continues to be alive and well, especially when data shows that the number one reason people leave their LMS to go to another one is SUPPORT AND SERVICE.

This might explain why I heard this comment while in Austin (speaking at an event) last week.  The comment, actually comments were in regards to people’s LMSs. It seemed to be universal in the room, that folks hated their current LMS, which led to one person stating that every LMS stinks.

As one who has had numerous LMSs, I can state that if you think your system stinks or isn’t doing everything it is supposed to be doing, time to find another system.  And yeah, it takes time, but what is worse – some time to find a new one OR gripe, have your learners hate it and stop using it and your admins despise it?

Oh and that bogeyman scare tactic regarding data migration and issues of moving data is alive once again.  Some vendors seem to think that by saying this, people will just stick it out and guess what, they are right.  Here is the think though – it is not true.  It is just a scare tactic. 

If you want to be scared, then check out this trend (number 9)

People who still think open source LMSs are the best route to go rather than a commercial system 

Part of this frightening attitude is the believe that open source systems and in most cases they are using Moodle is free and easy to use. 

The trend within this trend is an increase of Moodle and other open source platforms on the corporate side. 

While you can have unlimited users versus say the vast majority of LMSs (not all), you also get a lot of extra headaches and suffering with that open source platform. 

And yes, you could say to me, “Well, I get that now with my LMS,” I would retort “then you should find a new LMS.”

Bottom Line

Nine magical trends.  I could add a few more, but nine is a fine number.

Best of all, these trends just reminded me of one more dealing with travel.

 It can be quite expensive.

It’s a good thing then, that my trends are free.

Otherwise, I might have to charge you a 22% service fee.

Gratuity is extra.

E-Learning 24/7