Top 30 Elearning Articles of 2016


We know everyone in Learning Technology loves a quiz. So here’s your one question end of year assessment:
How many articles were published about elearning in 2016? 

A: 14,398 so far – and there’s still a few weeks for the all the 2017 trends and predictions articles to come out.

Standing out in that crowd isn’t easy. What was really worth reading in 2016?
We’ve curated 30 articles that resonated with people this year, were well shared on social media, and saw the most engagement on Anders Pink. These posts got the conversation going this year on all things Elearning, HR and Learning Technology. We’ve looked at the key themes, formats and trends that kept you all engaged.

Opinion Pieces

There’s no shortage of opinion in the Learning Technology game. Controversial and provocative posts always do well – here are a few that got people talking this year:

Does Elearning Really Work? Not so well, when it comes to leadership and soft skills
This piece from industry veteran Josh Bersin was very well shared on LinkedIn this year. Josh backs up the bubble-bursting headline claim with data. It shows that most people prefer at least some element of face to face training for leadership skills – elearning alone won’t cut it. He calls for a “four E” model: education (formal learning), experience (simulation and real-world), right environment (tools, platforms, coaching ), exposure to peers and leaders (social learning).

How to Fix our Senseless Compliance Training
Ryan Tracy’s blog is called the Elearning Provocateur. He lives up to that moniker with insightful pieces that don’t pull punches. This was one of the best this year – a simple idea that could change compliance training, by just not making you do it over and over.

Why and How HR needs to be more like marketing
Learning should be more like marketing – we wouldn’t be the first to say it. This article by Mark Schaefer (a very fine marketer himself) shared 7 ways in which HR needs to act more like marketing and be a little more human. Good practical tips for any HR professional.

To Stay Relevant, Your Company and Employees Must Keep Learning
This article from Harvard Business Review was by Pat Wadors, head of talent at LinkedIn. It addresses one of the key learning themes this year: in an uncertain time how does L&D help people to continuously learn and stay agile? It offers five key piece of advice:

  1. Look for lifelong learners when hiring
  2. Provide access to relevant, up to date learning
  3. Don’t worry about whether what they’re learning is directly related to work – it’s all valuable
  4. Line Managers and leaders need to actively support people in figuring out the new skills they need
  5. Reward people who adapt quickly to new situations through learning

Future Trends and Predictions

Nobody can predict the future, but anyone can write a post about it. Among the many posts this year on the future of HR and Learning, these were the ones we saved (and yes, we will check who was right…)

4 Reasons Why There Will Be A Learning And Development Transformation
There were a lot of articles this year on the need for change in L&D. This one was well shared on LinkedIn in particular. It sets out four drivers for change in L&D:

  1. Reduced need for designing meticulous courses
  2. Continued rise of mobile means more learning on the go
  3. Changing nature of jobs means L&D needs to focus on helping people to stay agile
  4. Dynamic and fluid teams need better collaborative learning tools and solutions

5 Elearning Trends for the next 10 years
Litmos did well with this one that calls out 5 elearning trends, including big data, AI, personalisation, wearables and cloud-based solutions.

Workplace Learning Trends to Watch in 2017
Workplace learning isn’t a new term but it found new currency in 2016. This article from shared some of the trends you can expect to see in 2017. Like other trends lists it predicts more “in the moment” learning. It also calls for a scrapping of the old-school performance review – something Accenture and others have already adopted.

All about AI and Future of Work

We saw the rise of the robots take place this year – or at least the rise of the articles about how Artificial Intelligence will change learning and work. Among those were:

Future Of Work: Three Ways To Prepare For The Impact Of Intelligent Technologies In Your Workplace
Jeanne Meister set the scene for the future of AI in the workplace well in this piece. She calls out job types that AI will increasingly automate, including journalism, surgery, and financial advisors. She’s optimistic that AI creates more opportunities to improve how we work and is more of an opportunity than a threat.

10 important things AI teaches us about ‘learning’
Donald Clark’s been looking to the future of learning for a long time, and in this blog post he points out that AI is all about learning, and concepts like search, chunking and feedback are already baked into the best AI.

Let’s make learning technology more like Spotify
Spotify: everyone loves it. Elearning: maybe not so loved. We liked this post on Medium on what your average learning technology platform and course could learn from Spotify: Shorter tracks. Use of AI, better personalisation, discovery and recommendation engines. Open communities and APIs. Sounds good to us. Though let’s skip Throwback Thursday, when we have to re-take last year’s mandatory compliance course.

The Future of Learning and Work: Chatbots
Jane Hart is the queen of new tools for learning. In this article she highlighted how intelligent chatbots can play a role in workplace learning and performance support.

Machine Learning for Translation 
This was a great example from of AI in action from Fuse: New technology using machine learning to generate translations and transcriptions for learning automatically. This will make lots of elearning project managers very happy (and a few localisation companies cry).

Case Studies

Learning is all about stories. Case studies always do well, and this year we read some great success stories of people and companies doing things differently:

Using Design Thinking to Embed Learning In our Jobs
Fresh thinking is always welcome in Learning Design. This piece in HBR suggests using the practice of design thinking to approach learning from a different angle. It’s not about making a better course – it’s a rethink of the experience to embed it into the workflow. It features a good example of how to do onboarding right (clue: not upfront, all at once).

How WD-40 Created a Learning-Obsessed Culture
Are your employees maniacs? We mean – in a good way? This case study shows how WD-40 encouraged all employees to become “learning maniacs”. Their CEO led the revolution, writing a “Maniac pledge” which goes like this: “I am responsible for taking action, asking questions, getting answers, and making decisions. I won’t wait for someone to tell me. If I need to know, I’m responsible for asking. I have no right to be offended that I didn’t “get this sooner.” If I’m doing something others should know about, I’m responsible for telling them.” Sign us up :-)

How Learning Happens at Slack
Did you become a Slack convert this year? Us too. It’s a great informal learning tool in its own right. This post from Slack sets out how they approach learning. Not a lot of formal training, it turns out. Their approach is a good example of collaboration, pull not push, and informal learning in action (and using Slack a little more than the LMS, surprisingly…).

Pilot Projects Show How VR Will Revolutionise Education
Virtual Reality is going to change everything. That’s not just a platitude anymore – Venture Beat’s round up of case studies and examples show how VR is getting real in learning.

Content Curation for Learning

We saw a range of posts on the what, why and how of curation for learning this year. Here’s three we’ve curated for you:

The Best way to learn any subject: Curation
A great piece from one of the kings of curation, Robin Good. He makes a strong case for curation as a learning strategy, because it turns all learners into contributors. As he puts it: “everyone who curates a subject by refining, adding value and personal viewpoint becomes a researcher-contributor to that very topic.”

Are Curation Tools a cure for information overload?
We like the tone and scope of Logic Earth’s blog. In this post they shared some pointers on tools for content curation to manage information overload.

12 Practical Ways to Use Content Curation For Learning and Performance
Busted, so this is one of ours. Here were our 12 ideas for how to practically include content curation to help people learn and stay smart in your organisation. Indulge us…


Thinking micro was one of the bigger ideas this year in learning. Here are some of the posts that did well this year

Why Microlearning is The Future of Workplace Training
The learning industry is never shy of a buzzword, and Microlearning was one of the big (well, small) ones this year. This post on was the most shared article on the topic. The workplace needs to cater for declining attention spans, and short 1-5 minute interventions fit better into the workflow. Expect to hear more about microloearning into 2017.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning
This piece on Business2Community is also on the theme of microlearning. It also referred to the attention span challenge, and sets out the benefits of microlearning. It includes a useful set of free resources to get your microlearning motoring too.

Why Microlearning works for me
A nice personal view from leading learning blogger Clive Shepherd. Clive talks about the power of building habits with microlearning content, from learning a language to cooking something new. He also sees video as one of the more powerful mediums for microlearning.

LinkedIn Doubles down on Education with LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn’s moves to take its own advice in terms of access to microlearning got a lot of coverage this year. It bought, then Microsoft bought LinkedIn. We’re still waiting to see exactly what the impact will be for embedding more learning into the workflow, but they’ve made some interesting forays into video already –  2017 should be interesting as LinkedIn becomes a mircolearning player.

Guides and Reports

While we are big fans of microlearning, sometimes you’ve got the appetite for something more substantial. Here are a few of the longer reads and reports on the state of learning that stood out this year. All of them point to continued disruption, opportunities for technology, and challenges for L&D and HR.

Towards Maturity 2016 Benchmark Report
Laura Overton’s annual review of what’s working in learning is always worth a read. The 2016 report analysed data from over 600 companies. There’s a wealth of insights in here. It highlights the top tree tasks for L&D as:

  1. Transform the transactional: Don’t just produce courses by default. Talk to learners and stakeholders, understand and give people what they really want and need.
  2. Integrate with the workflow: Find relevant content, and put it where people need it. Keep it short, sharp, focused and up to date.
  3. Prepare for an agile future: Nobody knows what the future of work will look like. All we know is there will be constant change and we need to be ready to adapt. L&D can support that by helping people to learn how to learn; encouraging and enabling continual engagement through a culture of sharing.

You can read our take on the report here.

HR Technology Disruptions for 2017: Nine Trends Reinventing the HR Software Market
Josh Bersin always produces insightful guides and this one paints a picture of disruptive times ahead in the HR and Learning Technology Market.

He notes a change in the Learning Platform market, away from the static LMS and towards what he calls “Learning experience platforms.” Unliked the traditionally closed course-catalogue LMS, these “bring YouTube-like experiences to your employees and include features for curation, career recommended learning, and data-driven recommendations.” Initially he expects they will run alongside the traditional LMS but may one day replace them. We see this in new-breed platforms like Fuse and Red Panda. Expect a lot more of this in 2017.

The Future of Learning – Fosway Research
Fosway Group, one of the leading learning and HR analysts, surveyed over 1000 people to tap into their views. The full report is here. 4 key trends emerged

  1. Mobile learning continues to rise
  2. Expect an increase in performance support
  3. Virtual Classrooms will continue to grow in corporate use
  4. The LMS is very much alive – only 1% plan to remove their LMS

Practical tips

This is an industry of hands-on practical designers, so helpful list posts with practical tips are always well received. Here were a few highlights from this year:

How Training Providers Can Get the Edge Over Competitors with Data Gold
We all want to make better decisions in how we create and present learning. This blog post from Elucidat is a great set of tips using real data to show how to create data-driven decisions in learning design.

6 Tips to Overcome Barriers to Learner Engagement
We liked this post from Unicorn Training – simple and practical ways to ensure learners stay with you when you roll out new solutions.

3 Ways to Measure the Value of Social Learning
Social Learning is much discussed but rarely measured. Ben Betts at HT2 set out some useful metrics to consider in this piece.

5 Tips from Pokemon Go for Learning
Jumping on a trend is a  good way to get some traction. This one from Kineo was one of many Pokemon Go-related posts this year, and it shared some good tips for how Pokemon Go relates to learning.  (Remember Pokemon Go? July seems like such an innocent time now)

So that’s it – the 30 posts on Elearning, HR and Learning Technology that moved the conversation forward this year. Now what did we miss? We expect you’ll let us know…

And if you want to see all of these posts in one place, here’s a saved list of all 30 articles. Slip it into the stocking of someone who love this Christmas.