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5 big digital learning trends, according to the experts

6 minute read

Kirstie Greany Elucidat
By Kirstie Greany

Head of Customer Marketing


Just as the transformations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic start to settle, further change is on the way. Increased economic pressure means the spotlight is on spend. So, how do businesses stay ahead when every penny counts? We’ve tapped into the minds of L&D experts to discover how they plan to overcome these challenges. Find out the 5 digital learning trends they’re embracing to deliver impact in 2023.

digital learning trends

Overview of challenges facing L&D this year

L&D continues to face many challenges: accelerated change, shifting customer expectations, digital transformation, difficulties attracting and retaining talent – to name just a few. Having proved indispensable in overcoming these challenges in the past, demand for digital learning has skyrocketed. 

In fact, our recent research showed 85% of L&D professionals reported an increase in requests for digital learning.

L&D find themselves in an exciting new position of influence. But, as economic pressures increase, this means they’re being asked to do more with less. We wanted to discover how teams are responding, so we surveyed 130 professionals and learning leaders to get their unique insights on the year ahead for L&D.

5 digital learning trends to watch out for this year

Here are 5 digital learning trends L&D leaders say that they’ll be embracing in 2023.

1. Continuous learning gets a renewed focus

Employees have long been asking for access to the learning they need, when they need it most – in real time, on the job. And businesses are really starting to listen. We’re seeing an increasing number of L&D teams shifting from time consuming one-off training events to continuous learning. 

44% of L&D leaders stated that this kind of self-paced blended learning worked best in their organization (up from 30% last year).

“Continuous learning isn’t about spending half day in a class. It’s about finding five minutes to dip into some microlearning or to start a series of courses, or watch a YouTube video, or even read an article, or whatever it is. Learning doesn’t stop with what we offer on the platform. We need to make people aware that there’s lots of other opportunities out there for them…We’re not asking for a massive commitment, but to do things as a habit regularly.”
Jason Flynn, Global Head of Learning, GfK

Hear and learn more from Jason in this podcast on continuous learning. 

Want to get ahead with this trend?

Faced with daily tasks and urgent deadlines, it can be difficult for employees to take time to learn. Minimize the effort involved by making your learning content short, relevant and – of course – easy to access.

2. Contextualization brings learning to life

Most organizations have plenty of online learning content. But if it doesn’t reflect the complex situations that employees experience, businesses won’t see the changes they need. 

The future focused L&D professionals we talked to recognized that context is critical to develop the key skills their business needs. They’re focusing on scenario-based learning to help them plug their emerging skill gaps. 

“If somebody’s offering you a gift, doing nothing until you can tell your manager is just simply not an option. You have to make a decision at that point. If you think there’s something a bit dodgy about it, how do you reject that gift? The skill you require is how to negotiate and maintain the business relationship you have with that person who’s offering you the gift.”
Jason Baker, Founder, Snowfish Learning

Hear more from Jason in this podcast episode around how to spark real behavioral change.

Want to get ahead with this trend?

Don’t know where to start with realistic scenario-based learning? Find out what’s happening on the ground and capture how employees approach their work. Use case studies and storytelling to explore the nuance of situations.

Need some inspiration? Check out this scenario-based elearning example.

digital learning trend example elearning

3. New data, new measurement opportunities

Years of rapid change have offered lots of L&D insights. With new tech and hybrid ways of working fully embedded in organizations, there’s a whole different world of data and learning analytics available. 20% of L&D professionals are seizing this opportunity to focus on new ways they can use this data to demonstrate their value.

“Prior to designing a training and learning solution, let’s have the conversation about the intention. Let’s have a conversation about the purpose. And then let’s define what purpose fulfilled look like. If we can define what purpose fulfilled looks like, we can measure the extent to which purpose was fulfilled.”
Kevin M Yates, L&D Detective

Find out how Kevin finds measures that show purposeful impact in this podcast episode. 

Want to get ahead with this trend?

Newly adopted tech may offer lots of data, but that doesn’t mean you have to evaluate it. Be strategic about what you measure. Make sure you show your impact rather than overload your stakeholders with stats.

Want to get started straight away? Here are 20 learning measurement ideas to show impact and improve performance.

4. Barriers to learning are being removed

The drive to make learning more effective and efficient continues in 2023. The biggest blocker to this is the amount of learning materials out there. Employees are struggling to find the right thing at the right time. That’s why 15% of L&D teams are taking another look at their learning ecosystem, rationalizing their content and making it a more user-friendly experience.

“People are used to finding the answer quickly. So, it comes down to: How do you enable this with guardrails? With systems and rules, you can create a framework that helps shape the creation of content in a way that it makes it searchable and locatable and findable and relevant.”
Jon Thompson, Director of Learning Experience & Innovation at The Coca-Cola Company 

Hear Jon discuss this more on this recent panel webinar. 

Want to get ahead with this trend?

As well as reviewing your current learning paths, think about new content. As more training requests come in, there’s a risk that you add to the content overload. Be a gatekeeper. Understand the real learning need and respond with the right solution. 

5. L&D gets proactive with marketing techniques

Simply providing great learning platforms full of excellent content won’t get employees engaged. And if people aren’t engaging, your L&D investment is wasted. Under pressure to make every penny count, the L&D teams we spoke to are looking to maximize the impact of their learning experiences using marketing techniques.

“There’s a lot of proactive, iterative thinking that exists in the world of marketing that could be very much applied to learning. Ultimately, we’re trying to do the same thing. We’re trying to get people to do things they don’t want to do. And know about things they don’t know about yet.”
Ashley Sinclair, MAAS Marketing

Hear Ashley talk more about marketing for L&D in this podcast episode. 

Want to get ahead with this trend?

Don’t just tell people to go and learn, sell it to them. Highlight the benefits. Once they’ve accessed your engaging learning content, keep them coming back for more through proactive communication.

Digital learning trends in summary

After keeping everyone learning during the pandemic, L&D is finally seen as business critical. Keep your position of influence and stay ahead in 2023 with 5 key digital learning trends. 

  • Embed continuous learning in your organization. 
  • Use scenario-based learning to provide critical context. 
  • Gather new data to demonstrate your value. 
  • Remove the barriers to an effective user experience and impactful learning. 
  • Explore how marketing techniques can improve learning engagement. 

If you want to find out more about the latest trends, read our full State of Digital Learning Report 2023. Pre-register for the State of Digital Learning Report to get early access to all the challenges, trends and new ways of working facing L&D this year. 

Want to learn more what what top learning experts are doing to get ahead of the trends this year? Join this panel webinar to hear about their tips and strategies first hand.

Written by Kirstie Greany

As Head of Customer Marketing at Elucidat, Kirstie is dedicated to empowering our customers by guiding them in creating award-winning digital experiences. Her expertise not only supports, but elevates the elearning journeys of numerous customers, ensuring their success.

Read more articles by Kirstie Greany