One of the responsibilities of an Instructional Designer (ID) is to stay current and aware of new trends percolating through the L&D pipeline. As we enter a new year, it’s only natural that we’re going to see further advancements in instructional technology, as well as learning theory. To remain at the cutting edge, and to also ensure those for whom we develop trainings receive the richest and most meaningful experiences possible, we should commit to educating ourselves about the latest and greatest discoveries and innovations coming in 2024.

Here are 5 trends and talking points that will undoubtedly affect the Learning and Development landscape this year:

1. Use of AI for Content Development:

Artificial Intelligence became a hot topic last year in Learning and Development as companies and instructional designers saw how it can be applied to not only streamline course design and development processes, but also how it was able to enrich learner experiences—actively tracking the learners’ journey as they made their way through a training. Expect 2024 to see AI gain even more attention and be the most important talking point this year.

I have written about the enticing possibilities presented by AI in previous articles, but one of the main advantages AI brings to the table in the L&D sphere is that of incorporating it for use in adaptive learning and personalization of the learning experience. AI can be used to create specifically-tailored learning paths for continued professional growth based on analysis of an employee’s learning habits. When someone is pursuing further professional development, companies can make use of an LXP (Learning Experience Platform) to curate content from all over, then place it at the disposal of the learner. All this content would then be entirely based on their individual algorithm. Imagine a unique curriculum tailored specially for the individual dependent on their interests and career goals.

AI can also be implemented in a course itself and assist someone as they progress through the learning content. Artificial Intelligence can adapt a module in real time to best cater to the learner’s knowledge and skill level, adjusting things like the module pace as appropriate. Based on how a learner performs throughout a course, AI can even rewrite or generate new assessment and Knowledge Check questions on the spot for the learner based on the gathered data. On a wider scale, it can analyze collective learner data, and from the observable statistics craft entire courses complete with learner interactions and assessments.

While the possibilities presented by Artificial Intelligence in L&D could easily take up several articles, including the use of ChatGPT to streamline course writing and question generation, look for the AI capabilities outlined above being used in 2024.


2. Microlearning

One of the main imperatives of companies today is to create training that is maximally efficient. Often large courses, stuffed with content, can be cumbersome, and will take an employee away from the crucial tasks they need to perform while they are working. Not only that, but the longer someone is working on a module the less information they absorb due to their attention flagging. A big push in L&D this year will be to both structure new learning content and remold previous content into smaller, more digestible microlearning lessons that will not only reduce employee time away from work, but also retain learner focus.

In a previous article, I expounded on the applications and benefits of microlearning—using a collection of smaller learning objects that take no longer than a couple of minutes to complete. Usually concentrating on one specific topic, microlearning objects, whether short videos, case studies, interactive modules, etc. can be delivered at an appropriate time to address something an employee needs to learn right away. These small lessons can be grouped together to form a larger curriculum, with each piece dealing with a specific, focused topic.

Microlearning can also be used in the form of drip learning, which is something we have focused on heavily here at Evolve. Structuring content in the way one would write a cliffhanger story, drip learning gives learners course material in small quantities scheduled at successive stages. This is different than traditional learning which presents everything all at once. With this tactic, learners can gradually access content when it’s determined appropriate. By spacing out delivery in this way, learners take their time and digest the content they have previously learned, rather than move on to the next subject or training. When delivered in structured, focused bursts, drip learning saves valuable employee time and strengthens their understanding of the topic. This also benefits and adds to their level of engagement with the material.


3. AR and VR Learning

2024 will undoubtedly see a rise in companies wishing to promote more immersive learning experiences for their employees, whether it be to promote further engagement in the course content or for them to practice real-world skills in a simulated environment. These experiences will be structured around either Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR).

We have talked about both in the past here at Evolve, but to briefly define the two; AR combines the computer-generated content with the real-world setting (and can be accessed through a smartphone or a headset), while VR replaces the real-life environment you are in with an entirely virtual experience (and must be accessed exclusively through a headset). Simply put, while AR enhances the world you are in, VR creates something entirely different for you to immerse yourself in. These two types of reality-altering training will allow employees to have a more hands-on way of learning and interfacing with curriculum content. Rather than have employees practice skills on expensive equipment and machinery that companies don’t want to put aside for training, they can instead use one of the two immersive learning methods to demonstrate their knowledge on something as close to the real-life thing as possible. This can also be used to simulate training in potentially hazardous and life-threatening situations, where an employee can learn what is required without sacrificing safety.

Beyond the obvious applications of AR and VR, they can also be used to improve previously bland training content. By simply having the learner access a VR headset or walk around the office with their phone tuned to an AR course, they are accessing a course beyond them simply sitting at a monitor. Compliance or upskilling training can be reoriented into a lively, captivating learning experience, complete with games that require an employee to get up and move. This form of engagement will certainly be an area of focus this year.

4. Data-driven Instruction

This new year will also see the additional role of data analyst given to the instructional designer. Companies and instructional design houses will leverage data taken from their courses to gain valuable insights into not only how effective their training was, but also to discover more about the learners themselves. Using things like xAPI data pulled from a Learning Management System, any number of things can be discovered about learners—like potential areas of improvement, or even how long each learner was on a specific part of a course. By pulling this data together, future training can be structured in an informed, measured way that focuses on not only what the learner needs to gain from a course, but also the best way to deliver the content.

Learner retention and engagement can be guaranteed by proven statistical data rather than any sort of speculation on the part of the instructional designer. It is essential that in the year 2024 IDs sharpen their ability to extract, analyze, and interpret learner data. With an improved focus on learner data, companies and IDs can begin to identify the shifts and fluctuations in learner behavior and can craft courses to stay ahead of the curve and guarantee interest and retention. Learning data can even be leveraged to predict the future performance of learners, identifying them based on their previous performance. This will inform the ID on who might soon need additional training, or a timely intervention to ensure they do not struggle in the future.


5. Accessibility and Adaptability

Accessibility and adaptability will increase in importance in 2024 as organizations work to make learning more accessible and adaptable to learners of all levels of baseline knowledge and abilities. Most courses and content you will see this year and, in the years to come, will have features like transcripts and captions that sync with course narration, clearly readable fonts against a clear color contrast, clear pause/play buttons and the ability to revisit slides that allow the learner to go back and cover anything they might have missed.

There is a great deal more that can ensure accessibility and adaptability in eLearning courses. Companies and instructional designers have both a moral, as well as legal, responsibility to ensure everyone will be able to access learning content and understand what they are being taught regardless of disability or any other impediment. We as IDs must do our best to guarantee a corporate (and general learning) culture of inclusivity and equity. By creating courses with built-in accessibility features, you foster a more positive culture, consolidate training instead of having to create multiple types of the same course, and fulfill crucial legal requirements. Accessibility and adaptability is no longer simply an option, it is a necessity.



2024 will be a time where Learning and Development experiences a lot of changes. While there are other trends that will emerge this year, the ones stated above will undoubtedly play a major role in the months to come. By keeping in tune with these trends, we as instructional designers can ensure those who take our courses learn in the best way possible.