It wasn’t so long ago that e-learning was part of the list of trends that were changing the learning landscape. Now elearning is already getting its own list! And well it should, of course, because elearning is the future. As technology advances and the disadvantages are dealt with, elearning is becoming ever more competitive.
I’m not quite going to predict that classrooms are going to go the way of record stores – that seems a little premature – but that we’re going to see some shocks and changes in the years to come goes without saying.
Now, though there are a lot of different elearning trends, I’ve selected eight here which I think are particularly relevant.
Equalization of elearning and formal learning
The first thing that is clearly going to change in the months and years to come is how elearning will be viewed. As more statistics become known about the effectiveness of elearning, people will see it as an ever more viable and acceptable alternative to brick-and-mortar learning. And that process is only going to accelerate as more students choose for this option over that of brick-and-mortar learning – particularly if the fees off-campus learning continue to remain as stubbornly high as they are.
It’s quite interesting that not so long ago games were just considered for kids. Now we know better. Gamification is turning out to be a real boon for adult learning. And as we get a better grip on how to use this new tool, no doubt the advantages will be greater as well.
Of course, that’s not to say it has no benefit for kids. Quite the contrary. It’s often far more engaging than standard classwork, which means that children – especially those who have been lagging behind their classmates due to lack of engagement – are benefiting hugely from this new tool.
And the connection between gamification and elearning is obvious, so we’re bound to see some dramatic changes in this area in the months and years to come
Greater opportunities for collaboration and engagement
One of the biggest drawbacks of elearning has been how hard it is for people to collaborate. But where some people see a problem, other people see opportunity and in the years to come, we can be absolutely certain that things are going to improve in this regard.
What’s more, as they do so, they’ll be able to tackle some of the greatest problems that many students of elearning face – and that is a lack of engagement and a likelihood that they’ll drop out. For the bonding and sharing with other students is very likely to raise retention rates and improve the learning experience.
As more people now engage with the internet with their mobile phones than with desktops or laptops and as elearning is a consumer-driven industry, it’s obvious that in the months and years to come, we’ll see elearning move in that direction as well. This brings with it some unique challenges, of course. For example, there is far less visual real estate available on the screen and typing in answers is far more time-consuming.
The question then becomes, how will elearning cope with those problems? Will it go down the multiple-choice route or will it make use of the ever-growing speech recognition branch? Personally, I’m very much hoping for the latter as the opportunity to talk sounds far more exciting.
Increase in part-time and hybrid enrollment
One of the great things about e-learning is that it makes it far easier for people to do other things on the side. And so people could hold down a job, care for children or family, or actually integrate their elearning with brick-and-mortar learning, as people take some classes on campus and some online.
This will give people far more mobility, opportunity and flexibility to put their package together in the way they want to. And yes, it’s very possibly that universities and other institutions will be resistant to these kinds of integrations. The truth is, however, that as more programs continue to come online, competition among the institutions will continue to grow. This means it will be ever more a buyers’ market. And so institutions won’t really have a choice. This is the future of modern higher education.
EdTech will transform online education
In 2015, 1.85 billion was invested into Edtech. Now obviously, that’s going to have some serious effects on the education in the years to come. Admittedly, it isn’t yet clear what those effects will be as we don’t yet know who are going to be the winners and the losers are going to be. But that there will be huge, landscape changing effects on elearning is absolutely certain.
Then there is big data – a field that will no doubt benefit all of education, but elearning doubly so as everything can be categorized and recorded far more easily here than in the classroom. As we get an even better grip on the number of learning it will be possible to tweak, change and improve the learning experience. And that will create positive feedback loop, where elearning’s effectiveness improves by leaps and bounds.
I won’t be at all surprised if in a few decades it won’t be elearning taking tips from classroom learning ideas, but rather the other way around.
And most excitedly of all, big data can help individual students. For as the numbers get crunched and the nuances of leaning get exposed, warning signs of problems that students have will become obvious earlier and earlier on in their learning experience.
In this way, teachers can start helping individual students in problem areas even before those students have started failing tests – in fact, even before the students themselves are aware that they’re entering an area where they might end up struggling.
And in this way, teachers will no longer have to try to re-engage disengaged students. Why not? Well, the student never got disengaged as the problem was never allowed to grow that big! Instead, it was tackled before it was allowed to escalate this far. Now doesn’t that sound exciting?