The term e-learning was first used over a decade ago as a way of categorizing the new types of training and learning programs that were built by technology. At its origins, e-learning consisted mostly of content built for a classroom-based experience being adapted to a self-paced, computer-based course.

Then and now

This new portal through which individuals could learn and be educated provided organizations with a number of valuable benefits including the ability to standardize training practices and implement them at scale to large audiences. Many organizations have been taking advantage of e-learning to make their training and development efforts more efficient and effective.

"Technologies like augmented reality, wearables, gamification, data and analytics or interactive video are opening new doors to how we live, work and learn."

Today the possibilities of technology-based learning and training extend well beyond the limited scope of a traditional e-learning course. There are a number of trends in technology and learning that are transforming how individuals learn, how organizations approach training and development and, in turn, redefining what e-learning means.

Going mobile

Many of these trends in learning and training parallel trends in the consumer market. Consider the impact of smartphones on our daily lives. We are using these devices to connect, share and interact with people and content in ways that were unfathomable even a decade ago. We now carry a computer in our pockets that in most cases supports an always-on high bandwidth connection to the limitless knowledge of the internet. The device has transformed how we live.

Organizations are looking at smartphones to have a similarly transformative impact to learning and performance. Smart phones enable organizations to support workers when they need it, where they need it—something that is critical for an increasingly mobile workforce.

While smartphones might be the most visible trend shaping the new definition of e-learning, there are a number of other technologies that are unlocking new possibilities for training and learning. Technologies like augmented reality, wearables, gamification, data and analytics or interactive video are opening new doors to how we live, work and learn. These and other technologies provide new and exciting opportunities to transform training and development, enabling organizations to provide appropriate support for a 21st century workforce.