The online learning industry has undergone significant evolution over the past couple of years and likely still has some major transformation left. As we look ahead at the next 12 to 18 months, let’s explore a few of the top developments.
4 Trends to Keep an Eye On
There are so much iteration and maturation going on in the online learning space that it can feel impossible to keep up. And while things will certainly evolve even more over the next several months, here’s a look at some of the top trends as they stand today:
1. Improved Learning Experiences
Online courses, whether academic or professional, used to have the stigma of being fairly boring and sterile. Yes, they’re delivered digitally, but the technology (and experience of the instructor) has traditionally lagged behind. That is no longer the case. The industry is making great strides in this area and the overall learning experience is better than ever.
Take a learning platform such as Wiley as an example. Many of their courses, like their CMA Exam prep course, have advanced features like predictive scoring and personalized exam prep that enable the course content to be tailored to each individual student’s needs. This adaptive learning approach is something that was not possible five or six years ago (at least not to this degree).
The growth of social learning is another thing to keep an eye on. This approach takes components of basic human interaction and group dynamics and applies them to modern learning.
“Online forums, class-wide chat rooms, file-sharing platforms – with social learning in the electronic space, collaboration has never been more productive, efficient, and seamless,” ViewSonic notes. “Now, teammates can offer insight and support from anywhere, whether it be their classroom, their homes, or their nearby coffee shops.”
When you combine adaptive learning with social learning, the result is an impressive and immersive user experience that actually surpasses physical classroom-based learning on the engagement scale.
2. Changes to Content Dissemination
It used to be that a three-hour course was delivered in a three-hour format. Today, as course creators learn more about learning behaviors and human psychology, we see changes in how content is delivered. Most notably, there’s been a massive rise in microlearning.
Microlearning is where you take a three-hour course and divide it up into nine 20-minute sessions. These sessions are then turned into three modules of three videos each. The result is a more digestible experience that allows students to move at a comfortable pace.
In the coming years, look for content creators to seek out additional ways to deliver digestible content via social media. This will remove an additional layer of friction and make learning even more accessible.
3. Shift to B2B Learning
For many years, the online learning industry was underpinned by an overwhelming focus on B2C learning. In other words, educators and course creators would go straight to the student. Today, we see a shift to B2B learning.
With the B2B model, corporations who want to access online material to train their employees can license content from these creators. They can also work with educators to create “one-off” courses that are specifically designed for their business. This takes a lot of the pressure off of business owners and HR departments and allows educators to sell their content at scale.
4. Increase in Non-Degree Credentials
In the past, all online learning was attached to degree credentials and other officially-recognized “certificates.” Today, there are thousands of courses for non-degree credentials. In other words, there are courses you can take simply to improve your skillset without needing any sort of qualification or stamp of approval.
On a related note, you’ll notice that LinkedIn has beefed up its LinkedIn Learning platform, which allows users to take specialized courses from top educators and trainers. They can then list these courses on their profiles after completion. This offers professionals an excellent opportunity to improve their knowledge and get credit for it, even if it isn’t officially a “recognized” degree.
The Future of Online Learning
The future of online learning will have even more advanced technology, even better user experience, and impressive flexibility. As we look ahead to the next three to five years, it’ll be exciting to keep an eye on the direction these developments take. We’re excited about the potential for even more advances in learning.