DevLearn 2021 Recap: 5 eLearning Trends to Look for in 2022 and Beyond
team at devlearn 2021

DevLearn 2021 Recap: 5 eLearning Trends to Look for in 2022 and Beyond

For the 6th straight year, GAAP Dynamics had the honor of attending and presenting at DevLearn, one of the largest eLearning conferences hosted by the Learning Guild. This year’s event was extra special because it was in-person, which was a breath of fresh air after 18 months of virtual training and events! The conference was held at the Mirage in Las Vegas and brings together some of the best and brightest of the eLearning community to discuss eLearning trends, tips and tricks, new tools, and emerging technology. This year’s theme was “Explore. Engage. Elevate.” It is one of our favorite conferences to attend, because we always walk away feeling refreshed, energized, and full of new ideas to make all of our training solutions better!

Here’s a recap of some of our past DevLearn experiences if you’d like to catch up:

  1. DevLearn 2020
  2. DevLearn 2019
  3. DevLearn 2017
  4. DevLearn 2016
  5. DevLearn 2015

If you were unable to attend this year’s event, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll explore some of the key trends from the breakout sessions, keynotes, and overall messaging from DevLearn 2021. Let’s dive right in.

changing landscape

1. The Learning Landscape has fundamentally changed

You would be hard-pressed to find a single Keynote Speaker or Panel Discussion that did not mention the impact of the last 18 months on the learning industry as a whole and the effects on the individual learner and their ability to learn amidst this constant sea of change. COVID-19 has had, what many in the industry believe to be, permanent impacts on the learning landscape. Many of you who work for large corporations have likely seen these impacts. Traditional classroom training has been replaced with virtual learning options, and for most, it looks like the days of week-long “boondoggles” in big cities with hundreds of learners is a thing of the past (at least for the foreseeable future).

Another piece of the landscape that has changed: the learner’s ability to learn. We spent a lot of time talking about the various pressures and stressors placed on learners that may impact their ability to focus and retain knowledge. And of course, COVID-19 was one of those stressors. Most of us unfortunately know at least one person who lost their life to this virus, so many of us are dealing with some form of grief, which can be severely distracting. Add on top of that stress that many people are still working from home and dealing with distractions there as well…sharing workspaces with spouses or partners, children or pets popping in and disrupting your concentration, weak internet connections…you name it, someone is experiencing it!

What’s the verdict? Expect that your learners will not have the same capacity for learning that they did before this pandemic began. Understand that learners may be experiencing grief, depression, or heightened levels of stress and plan to respond appropriately, whether that be with patience and empathy or more actionable items like avoiding triggering images, video, or audio. Understand that access to learning will be varied as well. This means that accessibility is going to be paramount…not just for learners with visual or hearing impairments, but learners with other access issues as well. This is another key theme from the conference, so we’ll talk more about this one momentarily!

people listening to webinar

2. The Virtual Classroom is here to stay…but we have work to do to make it better

When it comes to looking at the types of concurrent sessions offered at this year’s conference, there was a clear uptick in the number of sessions talking about how to run a successful virtual classroom. With live classroom training suddenly off the table, companies had to transition FAST to a new solution. As we’ve already discussed in numerous posts, eLearning takes a lot of time to create, which equates to high costs, so that wasn’t a viable option for companies in a pinch. Instead, the industry saw a massive shift to webinars and other forms of virtual classroom. Technology platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams exploded overnight, while other webinar providers like GoToWebinar and Adobe Connect saw a massive uptick in users.

While it’s great to have this technology to help us facilitate virtual instructor-led training (vILT), it isn’t enough to just simply take your old slide deck and upload it into your virtual platform of choice. You must remember that learners are losing all of the interaction they would have experienced in the real classroom, including interaction with peers, visual cues and body language of the facilitators, use of whiteboards and flipcharts, ability to collaborate on group projects or discussions, ability to get up and stretch their legs, and so much more. Now, learners are lucky to get a glimpse of the facilitator’s “talking head” or maybe participate in a breakout group or chat pane.

GAAP Dynamics has written several posts on how to make the virtual classroom a success. You can check some of those out herehere, and here. In fact, I’ve even written a blog post about the different virtual learning options that are available .

Some of the key themes to come out of DevLearn as it relates to improving the quality of virtual classrooms include:

  • Connecting to the human element of your learners: use fun surveys, chats, or polls to ask something about the learner…it could be fun or serious. For example, which cat gif best describes how they’re feeling today?
  • Utilize technology to bring the best of the classroom into the virtual classroom. For example, if you’re using Zoom for a smaller session, can people turn their cameras on and introduce themselves? Remember, some new hires have never had a chance to step foot in their new office or meet their colleagues!
  • Re-energize learners. Can you use music, fun videos, fun chats, or even just exercise-based breaks where you walk around your desk, do some squats, or take a stretch to re-energize the virtual room?


3. Accessibility. It matters and you should be focusing on it NOW!

Without a doubt, one of the most prevalent themes of the concurrent sessions was the importance of accessibility and how to bring it to the virtual learning environment. One of the most invigorating and inspiring sessions my colleague, Julia, attended was on accessibility in eLearning. This is something that has become front-and-center for many large organizations, but it is starting to trickle down to smaller organizations…and for good reason!

If our training is purposefully exclusive, we are missing entire populations of learners! This starts with some of the obvious accessibility concerns in the eLearning environment: those that are vision disabled or hearing disabled. These types of learners may use different tools, for example, screen readers, to navigate through eLearning instead of being able to use the traditional buttons and functionality pre-programmed into the eLearning. Or perhaps these individuals are unable to see the visual context on the screen like videos or images, and rely on features like alt-text to describe what they are unable to see. We’ve been creating accessible versions of our large clients’ courses for a few years now using PDF (you can read more in Part 1 and Part 2 here), but we know we have a way to go on our own content.

Another aspect of accessibility to consider: How and when your learners are accessing your virtual content. Is it responsive or mobile friendly for those who can only take your training while waiting in drop-off line at school or while riding the bus or train to work? If it is live training, have you considered your learners who live in different time zones and how to accommodate them? What happens when learners are unable to attend the live training event? In many ways, blended learning can be a solution to some of these common accessibility issues.

If you’re ready to begin your accessibility journey, this eBook from the Learning Guild is a great place to start! (note: will need a free account to access eBook)

user experience

4. The User Experience (UX) encompasses so much more than just learning content

One of my favorite sessions that I attended this year was on improving the user experience (UX) across all of our learning products. One quote from the instructor that struck me was that “all eLearning designers are actually UX designers”. The image above presents the UX Honeycomb developed by Peter Morville and encapsulates the main characteristics that are important to user experience design. Walking through each of these facets really inspired me to take a closer look at our user experience design for big platforms, like the Revolution, our online learning platform, but also on a smaller scale, for example, the webinar platform we use or how we design our course content or program our eLearning. The main facets are:

  1. Useable: Is the system or product easy to use? Is it intuitive to the learner? This especially struck me as we have just relaunched our Revolution on a new LMS.
  2. Useful: Does the training we provide fill a need? I like to think so! But even so, we always value our customer’s feedback and evaluate post-course evaluations to make sure we are hitting the right marks.
  3. Desirable: Does it look visually appealing and is it easy for the user to understand?
  4. Findable: Information needs to be findable and easy to navigate. This was one of the key drivers for our need to change to a new LMS, so that we could better organize our ever-growing catalog of content into something more easily searchable by the learner.
  5. Accessible: Can all learners access the content in a way that is best suited to their needs? We’re certainly working on this facet!
  6. Credible: Is the content we provide trustworthy? This is absolutely critical to every member at GAAP Dynamics, and we devote hours upon hours of review by both CPAs and our programming team to ensure that our content is factually accurate and works as promised.
  7. Valuable: Is it worth investing your precious time? If we’ve learned anything over this pandemic, it is that time is short. You shouldn’t be taking training that wastes your time, and we, at GAAP Dynamics, shouldn’t be wasting time creating something that doesn’t provide value to our customers!

people using virtual reality headsets

Technology is evolving rapidly. Stay alert and be prepared!

Walking around the Expo Hall at DevLearn is always a lot of fun. Not only do you get to collect some fun swag to take home to the kiddos, but you get to see what the vendors in the industry have been busy creating over the past year (or two years, in this case). And I believe each of us found something there that shocked us that it was something that already existed! Sometimes, it was something simple…like vanilla lattes from Docebo with their logo into the foam…and other times, it was more complex. For instance, one vendor who was able to use your image and voice to create a virtual avatar of yourself. You can then simply type a script, put your avatar in front of the background of your choice, and start creating video with minimal editing required! How cool is that?  

Thinking of all this evolution reminds me of one of our favorite Keynote speakers at the conference this year: Chris Hadfield. He was the first Canadian to walk in space and had experienced a lot of change in his life. His biggest piece of advice to prepare for any kind of change was preparation. What does this mean for the learning industry and the rapidly evolving technology landscape? Stay alert and prepare now for what the future will hold so your organization can stay ahead of the curve!

Final thoughts

As you can see, at GAAP Dynamics, we found a lot of inspirational nuggets that we plan to take back to the drawing board. We want to be constantly evolving to meet your needs and provide you with the best possible training experience, no matter what the future holds. Have feedback for us? Questions? We LOVE to hear from our current and future customers. Please reach out to us at any time!

About GAAP Dynamics  

We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!


This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.

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