Top 5 E-Learning Trends to Watch in 2018
It’s that time of year again: time for cozy sweaters, (over)indulging in holiday treats, and ... predictions of next year’s trends.

Although the e-learning world isn’t always quick to adopt trends, we still love to talk about the next “it” thing. Around this time I usually start seeing countless articles from industry prognosticators with provocative headlines like, “Will 2018 Bring the Death of Your LMS?”

Sorry folks, there’s no clickbait here. The trends I’m about to share with you aren’t just hype, or even all that trendy. Most have been trending for years, but I think they’re worth watching because real e-learning pros, just like you, are putting these big ideas into action.

Read on to find out what I see as the top e-learning trends in 2018, and check out some great ideas and examples of these trends ripped right from the E-Learning Heroes community.

User-Generated Content

The term “user-generated content” can be strictly interpreted to mean content that’s created by end users (i.e., learners). But I think the concept is being applied more broadly than that.

User-generated content includes content produced by anyone who’s not on the training team, including Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and business leaders. And it makes good sense to have these experts take a hands-on role in content creation. Given a few easy-to-use tools (Rise and Peek, both in Articulate 360, come to mind) and some content creation guidelines, SMEs and other users can respond quickly to business needs, making and sharing content that’s timely and relevant to the training audience. The bonus? It’ll free up your time to focus on the bigger and more strategic pieces of the training puzzle.

For some concrete ideas on how you can equip and empower your SMEs to be successful content creators, check out the tips in: Empower Your SMEs to Create Better E-Learning with These 4 Tips.

Interactive Video

Immersive tech like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been high on everyone’s learning and technology trends lists for a few years. But there’s another type of immersive experience that’s well within the technical reach of most e-learning pros: interactive video.

With interactive video, you can elevate your e-learning by using video to drop learners into a realistic scenario. With a tool like Articulate Storyline 360, you can add hotspots, layers, and triggers to turn a passive video into an interactive experience. Using interactive video gives your learners opportunities to view tips in the context of a real-world situation, or prompts them to make choices, experience consequences, and see in-context feedback.

Want to see a cool real-life example of this trend in action? Don’t miss this brilliant airport security project Montse Anderson created in Storyline.

Responsive Design

For years, e-learning courses have been mostly slide-based. Unlike web pages, which offer a vertical, scrolling layout for reflowing text and images, slide-based courses have a horizontal layout that relies on objects staying in a fixed position relative to one another.

In the past few years, new authoring tools have emerged that allow e-learning pros to create courses that look more like a web page. This approach to presenting learning content works well because it uses the same technology that responsive websites use to reflow content based on the learner’s device and orientation. And because the relative positioning of web content doesn’t really matter with responsive design, the content still makes sense if the text goes from three columns to one column, or if images are placed in a different spot.

But that’s not the case with slide-based e-learning content. Slide-based e-learning wouldn’t make sense to learners if objects, like two characters in a conversation, suddenly changed position or disappeared to accommodate a smaller screen size or a different orientation.

That’s where a fully responsive authoring tool, like Rise, the web-based authoring tool in Articulate 360, comes into play. With Rise, anyone can create fully responsive courses in minutes—no coding necessary. And because responsive courses give learners a great experience on any device, these courses are really challenging the ubiquitous slide-based form factor we all expect with e-learning.

For more on what responsive design is and why it matters, check out this article. And to see what a responsive course looks like in action, check out this example of a compliance course created in Rise.


I know, I know. Gamification is nothing new. But what is trending about gamification is the broad acceptance of it. Just a few years ago, we were all trying to convince our organizations to let us incorporate gaming elements into e-learning. Today, the benefits of gamification are clear, and it’s common to see game elements like scoring and badges in e-learning.

With more people on board with gamification, it’s no wonder we’ve seen a steady uptick in  gamified, community-created downloads and examples like this fun little Tic-Tac-Toe–inspired project from Felipe Casajus. And with Storyline 360 features like the random number variable, anyone can create gaming elements like dice or cards—or whatever you can imagine—and add them to your courses. You can play around with the random number variable (and this trend) using this free gamified quiz download from Nicole Legault.

Blended Learning

Blended learning is another not-so-new trend. What is new about blended learning is how it’s morphed from being primarily about blending instructor-led with online training to being more about blending myriad training, tools, and support resources.

With the popularity of microlearning courses and a focus on creating fewer courses and more performance support, e-learning pros are finding that a blended learning strategy gives them the flexibility to mix formal and informal instructional interventions, and create supportive solutions that really empower learners and their managers to address performance challenges in the moment.

For the lowdown on blended learning, don’t miss this quick primer. And for some creative ideas for getting out of the e-learning course creation rut, check out these 10 Things You Could Create Instead of an E-Learning Course.

What Are Your Picks for the Top Trends of 2018?

What do you think of my list? Do you have your own top trends? Share your predictions with me by leaving a comment below, or by kickstarting a discussion in the Building Better Courses forum.

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.


Jeffrey Dyer