Every year, the training and learning industry is swamped in buzzwords, trends, big ideas, and more. Very few actually make it through to be more than a pipedream, but it's so tempting to spend hours thinking about them. It's way too easy to get sucked in, and start planning for a revolution that may never come, or one that won't happen for 50 years. In this post, we rate some of the most common trends and buzzwords we're seeing in the industry, and share our opinion on whether it's a real hot trend or not.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

VR and AR

This is a tricky one. Every year, the technology in VR and AR moves forward. From training simulations to interactive games and team building, training and education stands to benefit a great deal from this industry. A world where learners can be put in the heart of a problem, in a safe and virtual space, is one that many industries would love to have access to. The technology is improving, but nowhere near ready to be truly used at scale. Undoubtedly there are industries who are much closer than others to aggressive adoption - aviation in particular. But for 99% of training companies, this isn't something to be concerned with yet, and planning for it will be a time sink.

Heat Rating: Lemon and Herb.

Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT)

VILT

This is one that we've been bullish on for sometime, and one we continue to believe in. Last year, we launched our groundbreaking partnership with CloudShare, a leader in virtual IT training platform. And we very much feel that the future is bright for this high growth area. There's no shortage of articles available on the subject, and adoption is growing steadily. Where we see a real opportunity for training companies is that it offers a new way to deliver training.

Whereas previously, a classroom training session required one instructor to be present in the class, now that same instructor can actively teach across continents, time zones and more - all with the same reach and interaction that in-person training delivers. Of course, there's no substitute for a real face to face meeting. But with the quality of webinar and web conferencing tools improving consistently, we've invested into being ready for this game-changing trend.

We see this affecting the industry by allowing small independent training companies to compete globally, and for virtual training to be increasingly accepted as the norm. This will open up the market, and allow new and innovative training methods and content to be served across a range of formats - making learning the most efficient and effective that it has ever been. That's pretty exciting. And what's more exciting, is that this technology is available today. All that's needed is mass-market adoption.

Heat Rating: Naga

Blockchain

blockchain

Unless you've stayed clear of the internet, the chances are that you've heard of - or maybe even purchased - a blockchain-related product. Most likely, this was in the form of Bitcoin, or an alternative cryptocurrency. As a very quick summary for those who don't know, a blockchain is a decentralised public ledger that lets transactions be tracked without a central recordkeeper.

What does that mean?

Imagine Jim buys a pizza for $10 from Bob. Jim hands Bob the money, receives the pizza, and all is well. Except, a few days later, Bob calls Jim to say that the cash was fake, or that he had undercharged, or Jim had overpaid. Or maybe that he'd handed over an Australian $10 dollar note, instead of a Canadian one. Bob's records show that he hasn't been paid correctly and has given away a pizza. But as far as Jim's records show, he handed over $10 and got a pizza.

Outcome: Jim tells Bob to stop being crazy, and hangs up. And realistically, there's nothing that can be done by Bob. There are two very different records of what has happened, but the transaction is complete and there's no turning back.

With blockchain, that same transaction happens, but along the way, various independent parties verify that the transaction is taking place as proposed and inspect it for validity. Once a sufficient number of parties agree that it's valid, the transaction is confirmed, and there's a shared record for all to see that can't be manipulated by a single person changing their version of the story.

Outcome: Jim can be sure he sent exactly $10 in the right currency, to the right person at the right time - and Bob has got the $10 exactly as expected, meaning he can hand the pizza over safe in the knowledge he's not lost business.

How can this apply to Education?

This technology is being forecast to disrupt major industries, from finance, through to education. For example, Sony have developed a platform to manage student records from different schools, which can be accessed by administrators and recruiters to verify the validity of the student credentials. Blockchain can also help keep records safe, and resolve some worst case scenarios - for example, server break downs, data being wiped in one place, or records being attacked or altered.

It's easy to see that there's potential here. However, at the moment, the technology is nowhere near ready to go. Combining the lines of bureaucracy and legality with a lack of technical skills in the field, will be extremely restrictive to growth. And of course, just because the solution exists doesn't mean it will be widely adopted. However, there can be no doubt that there is an exciting future use case for the tech. Just don't stress about it yet.

Heat Rating: Jalapeno, progressing to Habanero in a few years.

Selling Training as a Subscription

Subscription

Selling your training as a subscription allows customers to pay for the training they need, at the time they need it. Whether it's specific modules, or the whole training package, selling via a subscription model allows customers continued access to your learning material.

Training is packaged up for a certain timeframe, such as a year, and then if your customers want to continue to have access to the training past this point, they must pay the subscription fee again. It usually makes sense to have the access timeframe for your training be the same as your software subscription timeframe. This will ensure they have access to the training for the whole time they are paying for the software, and makes it easy to re-subscribe to both the software and the training at the same time.

There's numerous benefits to this approach, from reducing time and resource costs, to being able to sell in bulk. For many training companies, this switch can make a big difference between struggling and scaling. It can also be a vital tool for tracking training records. Through your LMS, you'll be able to see what users have completed what courses - helping you identify upsell opportunities, or make recommendations to fill gaps in an employee's knowledge.

We're maybe a little biased, given that we've spoke at length on this subject. But we're a real believer that this is a big one.

Heat Rating: Carolina Reaper

Summary

Education as an industry has been ripe for disruption and technological advancement for a long time, and undoubtedly we're approaching a point where there's an appetite to do things differently. At the moment, however, there's many more questions than there are answers. What's certain though, is that the road ahead is sure to be exciting.

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