Changes in the business environment drive trends in learning and development (L&D) practices. Changes in our practices are driving changes in the software that we use to do our work. Through the process of digital transformation we are moving quickly away from more-or-less analog design and delivery methodology for eLearning that was the norm for many years.

In my most recent article on authoring software selection, I presented an overview of selection criteria for software that is rooted in instructor-led synchronous delivery. That software category is not going away, and in many industries and organizations it will remain important to make effective selections. In this article, however, I look at how I expect this year will be the watershed in that change of focus.

The digital transformation has arrived

2023 is probably the year when this evolution will begin showing up most obviously in the availability and selection of software that eLearning creators will be able to leverage to make our work faster and more effective. The pandemic and hybrid, asynchronous designs for delivery rapidly drove instruction to virtual settings instead of synchronous methods. At the same time, the widespread availability of mobile devices and user-centered design further reduced the need for instructors and increased the adoption of more scalable approaches to delivery that are better suited to widely dispersed organizations. Inevitably this has favored changes in software and hardware selection criteria. It is time to begin adjusting our thinking and our vision, individually, corporately, and professionally.

L&D strategy and corporate strategy

What is L&D strategy? A learning and development strategy is a general plan to support long-term strategic corporate and operational goals relating to the sustainable skills, knowledge, and performance of employees. The reason for having an L&D strategy is to align training and other development practices with organizational goals. This is an important element of planning for organizational success in changing times.

The L&D strategy should be reviewed and adjusted in times of change to maintain alignment with the strategy of the larger organization. In 2023, as they deal with a difficult recession and with digital transformation plans and processes, organizations should also look at the effects of change on individual jobs. This could become complicated when organizations try (and fail) to bring employees back to the office. Supervisors and managers will be affected by labor supply issues, by budget cuts, and by DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) concerns. As if this is not enough, L&D attention and priorities in many organizations will also need to be adjusted as soft skills become more important to address than hard skills, and the skills and success of front-line supervisors will need to be given space in planning and budget over development of mid-level managers and executives.

Software selection

You may want to consider your current L&D strategy as (or if) it changes, or if you need to change authoring software. I have identified some of the possible situations affecting authoring and software selection in 2023 where the software and the strategy may not be matched.

The trends and changes in focus

Personalized learning: If your organization has decided to adopt personalized learning as the design approach of choice, you may want to consider changing to authoring software that offers customization options such as adaptive learning paths, personalized recommendations, and interactive simulations.

AI-powered content creation: Vendors are beginning to offer authoring and ancillary software that supports artificial intelligence (AI) in the workflow. This will make it easier for instructional designers to create high-quality content, faster and at scale.

Immersive learning: Emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are changing the way we learn. Adopting VR/AR eLearning software will require changes to design and workflow to support immersive learning experiences.

Mobile access: If you are dealing with a diverse collection of mobile devices, or if the devices to be supported have changed or will change, you will need to change over to a matching software system.

Other reasons:

  • Design and development challenges created by changes to content management systems, and issues affecting user experience (including those discovered through data analytics).
  • eLearning software should always support customizable design and scalability so that eLearning providers can tailor the eLearning experience to their specific needs and to their users.

By considering trends such as those I have listed, eLearning providers can make better decisions about which eLearning software to use.