e-Learning: What's happening in 2015?

Second part of the ‘e-Learning 2015: trends & challenges@americalearning's report. Sixt experts evaluate the perspectives for e-learning market. Some trends analyzed in this article: mobility, virtual reality, augmented reality, maturation of the “skills gap” discussion, Tin Can API, innovative new tools entering the marketplace, learning analytics, effectiveness of training, multi-device audience, more data to allow truly targeted learning experiences, Learning as a Service, blended learning, big data analytics across organizations, adaptive and personalized learning scenarios.


Access first part  ‘e-Learning 2015: trends & challenges’ report.


Rebecca Stromeyer - Managing Director, ICWE: Two emerging areas of development set to be big trends in learning this year are VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). We have been showcasing these technologies at our events since 2013, but whilst the hype has captivated the gamer and consumer markets, the potentials they hold for education are only just beginning to be explored in the mainstream.

To briefly clarify the distinction between these two sci-fi technologies:

  • Virtual reality is fully immersive, with the latest iterations of the technology submerging users visually and sonically in other worlds, allowing them to explore three-dimensional environments through the use of a digital input such as a console controller or even through a sensitive mat that picks up the motion of someone walking on the spot.
  • Augmented reality, in contrast, superimposes virtual elements onto one’s real surroundings, and enables real-time manipulation of them, either through a digital input or through “tactile” interaction with the hands and physical tools.

It’s remarkable how the body reacts to these experiences, with the brain stepping in to add other sensory hallucinations to compliment what the eyes and ears are experiencing. For instance, people riding on a VR roller coaster feel their stomach lurch upwards and their head swim as they rush towards the virtual ground. Imagining the educational applications of experiences like this is inspiring ever more development and innovation. Consider transporting a class of secondary-level history pupils into the gallery of a seventeenth-century witch trial, or enabling engineering students to create and test virtual prototypes, or perhaps combining VR with another rapidly expanding field – AI – to train employees in conflict resolution or customer service.

At the moment, VR and AR are only beginning to break into the consumer market, and we are a long way away from seeing these practical applications realised, but 2015 is certainly going to be a defining year on the journey. The challenges ahead will lie in affordability, not so much of the technology itself, but of developing high-quality content that can genuinely support learning.

In terms of institutional trends, we are witnessing a maturation of the “skills gap” discussion, with both the public and private sectors being called upon by stakeholders across the board to collaborate in order to address the changing needs of industry and society. The more widely acknowledged role of the private sector in investing in tomorrow’s workforce is an important development, and this is something that will be specifically addressed at the 2015 edition of the annual eLearning Africa conference.

There are two major challenges. The first is convincing leaders of the private sector regarding the long-term payoff of investing in training today when economies around the world are still suffering from the after-effects of the financial crisis. The second is developing and sharing best-practice models for collaboration between stakeholders with traditionally disparate motivations. Operative approaches to dealing with both will be on the table at the 2015 eLearning Africa, May 20 - 22 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Mike Rustici, president of Rustici Software: In 2015 we will start to see the innovations and disruptions made possible by the Tin Can API (Experience API) arrive in the mainstream. As a new industry standard, Tin Can will catalyze a massive wave of change in the marketplace.

Any market is defined and confined by its interoperability standard. That assertion is best explained with an analogy to a USB cable. The USB cable is the interoperability standard for computer peripherals. If a vendor wants to see a peripheral product on the mass market, they have to make it work with USB. That means that the products available on the mass market— the products you and I use— are all confined by the constraints of USB, whether they be data transfer rate, power availability, size, etc. The constraints of the interoperability standard define and confine the market.

In e-learning our interoperability standard (SCORM) is 15 years old! That’s an eternity in the world of technology. Modernizing our standard to Tin Can will serve as a tremendous catalyst for market innovation as those antiquated constraints are removed and vendors incorporate 15 years worth of technological innovation into their products.

Standards are powerful drivers of market improvements. But those improvements take time. For Tin Can, that time is now. We are starting to cross the chasm from early tinkerers to mainstream adoption.

I predict we will start to see three things happen in 2015:

1. A spike in innovative new tools entering the marketplace. There will be particularly significant advances in tools that enable mobile, informal, blended, and adaptive learning. We will start to see more gamification and applications of learning science that allow us to easily design truly effective and engaging learning experiences.

2. An increased focus on learning analytics and attempts to measure the effectiveness of training. Companies will have access to more data than ever and they will start to use that data to determine the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of their training programs. Companies will begin to routinely measure the impacts of training on behavior and performance. These measurements will allow training departments to optimize their programs and quantitatively justify their existence to management. The C-suite will increasingly demand quantifiable results, which will increasingly use training as a strategic resource for organizational development.

3. Companies will question the assumption that an LMS is the right answer or required for all training programs. Companies will continue to explore the post-LMS world and embrace a learning record store (LRS) centric architecture. These new architectures will allow for learning to happen in the moment and place of need in the way that best serves the learner. Simultaneously these architectures will facilitate unprecedented visibility into all of the training and learning activity within an organization whether that learning be formal or informal. The LMS will continue to serve an important role in the management and delivery of formal training but organizations will seek to harness ALL of their available learning opportunities.


Mike Alcock, Managing Director – gomo. The 3 main trends I see emerging in 2015 are as follows:

1. Opening up courses to a multi-device audience

Multi-device learning that runs on all devices, irrespective of screen size or orientation, will be a given in 2015. It’s hard to believe that courses will be created that will not work on tablets or smartphones, when these are the devices our students have with them all the time. We’ll see an increase in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in corporations and responsive web design techniques such as HTML5 to deliver courses to multi-device users.

Making content adaptive, responsive and multi-device ready doesn’t just please learners today, it also leaves e-learning course creators in the comfort that it will work on the myriad of devices that haven’t even been released yet.

2. Data, data, data

There’s a fair chance that the data collected from courses and LMS’s will have shaped most people’s 2015 learning strategy. The emergence of advanced analytics and Learning Record Stores (LRS) will give everyone even more data to allow truly targeted learning experiences. The use of emerging technologies such as Tin Can Experience API (xAPI), combined with advanced analytics, will drive the direction of targeted learning in 2015.

3. Learning as a service

The growth of SaaS and cloud authoring technologies, combined with integrated hosting and delivery capabilities, will lead to the emergence of ‘Learning as a service’ solutions.

Organisations will be able to handle the ‘end to end’ process of content creation and delivery online. Log into an authoring tool through a browser, build a beautiful, multi-device course and instantly distribute it out to a direct link, intranet, app store, website or LMS, before tracking it using an analytics dashboard. I truly believe this will transform the authoring and delivery experience as the industry knows it.


Armin Hopp, Founder and President of Speexx: 2015 is going to be a very exciting and turbulent year for corporate learning and talent management. I believe that we’ll increasingly witness Custom APIs replacing industry standard interfaces – this will be driven by the needs of HR and L&D analytics.

At the same time, companies will integrate blended learning solutions into their training programs more and more, and build truly connected classrooms which facilitate social learning and learner empowerment.

Furthermore, I predict a huge increase in the adoption of learning technology and big data analytics across organizations. Combined, these two factors will facilitate globalized corporate learning environments.

Finally, there will be a surge in adaptive and personalized learning scenarios where content and methods are customized to student needs and preferences.


Aleksandra Arsik, Owner Online Cultus: Having in mind the fact that the education is transforming with every new technology development (depending on the level od its acceptance among the relevant communities) I would say that e-learning will face the following developments:

1. Mobility: Everyone will have better variety of choice in accessing the e-learning tools on one’s personal devices (most frequently mobile phones, then tablets, LTs and PCs);

2. Blended learning: With the developing pace of education technologies, support to the e-resources, the traditional educational institutions will strive towards using more e-learning tools, to facilitate and upgrade the learning skills of their audiences.

3. Young learners: The trend of having younger users of e-learning technology will bring positive results on a long run. Having pre-school children working with edu-tech tools, will not only make their overcoming of the learning faster and better, but will create (and is creating) a new generation of differently structured brains of the future (turned towards the new technologies development, expanding the existing tools and increasing the virtual communication levels).

Challenges in the processes of the above will always remain, as the education on global level is still a privilege of the richer. On the other side are the philanthrops who are moving the processes towards enabling access to wider user that do not belong in the wealthy category of education consumers (irrespective of the age).


Chema Navarro, CEO & Co-fundador del Grupo Epikus: We are living in the “golden age” of eLearning.  The current studying opportunities and training offers are really impressive. Owing to the success of the eLearning experience large amounts of eLearning content developments tools have been created.  SCORM editors, webinars and all types of LMS multiply exponentially. It is precisely on this point where 2015 will be a momentous year.

A broad range of LMS are available, from proprietary platforms to other open source options. In my view, the eternal struggle between proprietary and free software has in the eLearning one of the most interesting and passionate battles. As I see it, a painstaking analysis of the available LMS data (users, integration, etc) evidences a clear trend: 2015 is a crucial year in open source software standards entrenchment. I'm not just talking about Moodle, Sakay or Chamilo tools, other alternatives such as OpenEDX have come to stay and blaze new paths in online learning development.

Epikus has been committed to eLearning improvement for years now, focusing our work in the development of learning communities, cornerstone of quality. Open source software matches perfectly our needs in this regard. This year Open Code LMS will become a benchmark within high-quality eLearning.

I would like to close by wishing you all a future full of professional eLearning success. We are thankful for all what we have achieved this year and look forward to an even better 2015!


February 2015