In the January 2018 edition of this newsletter we mentioned that elearning industry will cross 200 bn USD in couple of years, one year down and we have predictions that it will cross 375 bn USD by 2025. No doubt it’s growing up to be a massive industry as it’s been seen in the world of education as a catalyst of the necessary changes in the way learning is provided. Elearning also helps mitigate costs of infrastructure and daily travel required for traditional classroom learning, whereas it’s becoming a real asset for third world economies helping deprived youth access online education (In Africa 50 million children remain out of school, and most of those who attend school are not acquiring the basic skills necessary for success later in life)
Riding on a dynamic phenomenon like digital technology, elearning industry undergoes vital changes every year, new trends take form or the existing technologies get refined and find wider use. In order to provide the best possible learning experience to users, providers of elearning need to acquaint themselves with the evolving trends and know which one of them will add value to their efforts. Like every year we have curated a list of trends and technologies that will have impact on online learning industry in 2019, they might be familiar terms but the refinement and evolution within them is what makes them worthy of note.
I’m still learning – Michelangelo at 87
‘Lifelong learning’ is no more just an old phrase but a hard fact of life, and a research indicated truth of 21st century. To stay as a part of competent workforce in the tech driven century, continuous renewal and upgradation of skill is becoming necessary. Every profession provides a learning opportunity, adding to our skill set, employability and self-sustainability. It’s only with a continuous pursuit of skill and knowledge that we remain an active participant in the workforce and society in the fast changing world. As learning is becoming lifelong for more people around the world, online learning will rise in significance, as it’s not feasible to provide all the learning and impact it might have in traditional setting.
Personalized learning has been a top trend for many years, but each year the technologies get refined and is being rapidly endorsed or tested by education departments worldwide. Personalized learning identifies who the learners are, what they need to know, and what they’re interested in, hence becoming an effective method of imparting education. Artificial intelligence, with rapid evolution and refinement has been able to cater to the personalized needs of a learner more precisely. Personalized learning is expected to make further strides in coming years and being increasingly recognized as a promising strategy to close achievement gaps, increase student engagement, and prepare students as they become self-directed, lifelong learners by meeting their individual needs.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence, an umbrella term for a group of technologies, is said to bring about the fourth industrial revolution. AI in education has a broad range of use cases and game changing applications. The technology can be used in automation of content creation, assessment, fostering a better learning environment to analyzing individual learning path to advising a career route. Also, researchers around the world have been closing in on a specific goal – tracking a user’s face to determine their response to what they’re viewing or experiencing. It would be wonderful as the system might be able to determine many things that are difficult to measure, such as engagement, stress levels, and fatigue. These deep learning AI solutions involve software that goes far beyond the measurement of and response to individual systems. These emerging solutions also involve many layers of student assessment, and increased automation in teaching process. AI powered chatbots have become smarter, students can ask them questions on topics and the chatbots return with relevant answers with articles, infographics, and videos.
Having been around for some time, AI in education space has garnered significant interest across the world. In China tech startups have received encouragement via policy and financial support from their government in the development and use of artificial intelligence across sectors. Numerous Chinese edtech companies have recently announced successful development and further funding of their AI-powered education products. Great money is being invested in development of artificial intelligence applications in education, some of the largest edtech funding rounds in 2018 were directed toward the development of AI as a tool to enhance learning.
Learning with Games
Game based learning has always been a trend. With its proven effectiveness gamified learning will remain focus of education providers in years to come, organizations are increasingly looking at investing in game based learning. When a learner is involved in the process, the memorization is deeper, and people in our generation are enthralled by games. Games have a remarkable ability to engage long-term memory. The competitive elements in games help to provide motivation to students who might not find that motivation in traditional learning. Finding new ways to grab the attention of learners and engaging them in the learning process is a task; activities, rewards, surprises and humour in gamified learning help learners to maintain their interest. Gamified learning also helps in self motivation and adds to our creativity, problem solving skills, decision making and critical thinking.
Trends like collaborative learning and social learning will be prominent in coming years. Interaction with peers is essential in education, students also learn from each other while teacher acts as facilitator. Learning platforms need to provide ways to collaborate and share among fellow learners, debate on a topic and get constructive social feedbacks. Tools and widgets for social sharing, discussion forums, online chat options, blogs, news feed and user groups can be part of the platform.
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality is a set of another big things in the world of technology, and they will have various applications in education. VR finds its application mostly in safety trainings in organizations whereas AR and Mixed Reality are used in teaching subjects like science and math, the added layer of graphics enhances comprehension of complex scenarios and inculcates engaging learning.
Microlearning as a subset of it, markedly supplements elearning. In the age of short attention spans and while juggling through multiple tasks microlearning comes handy for quick bites of learning in short intervals of time. On-the-go learning will rise on demand, it allows for better retention and is also a convenient performance support tool, as a quick reminder or to recap the lessons learnt, to provide extended information which could have been missed in the formal training courseware or in many other ways.
These will be some of the trends to remain on top in 2019, it’s not about inventing a new term but the evolution in technologies that empower and enhance learning. It’s the information age and there is no definite amount of knowledge or skill for an individual to learn, there’s no end to new knowledge. The learning methodologies of the industrial age will have to give ways to the learning methodologies of the information age. Tech enhanced methodologies like elearning will keep growing and evolving until they become the norm. Various technologies, led by artificial intelligence or machine intelligence will form the bedrock of imparting the required education in future.