The global elearning market is a continually shifting landscape, facts like increase in the number of edtech startups every year, geographical expansion of the market and predictions that the elearning industry will cross USD 200 bn mark in a couple of years point towards the mass acceptance of online learning in modern education systems. Year 2017 saw an increasing number of local colleges embracing online learning to complement their learning programmes, and there were other prevailing trends and technologies that shaped the future of the industry. The trends predicted to move the parts and gears of the industry for 2018 broadly follow those from the previous year. Also there is an inclination towards some new concepts that might have an impact on the industry.
Microlearning is not new for 2018, the practice was there in the education industry for many years and was popularized and given a new form by enabling technologies in last couple of years. However, the trend finds top spot in the current year as well, the reason being the acceptance of its impact in online learning programs as a powerful aid in imparting short but meaningful bites of lessons. Elearning providers worldwide have embraced the utility of microlearning and now most of them are providing 3-15 minutes long bites of lessons that learners can access and learn during the short breaks of their usual routine, at work, at home or while on commute. Almost all of the microlearning lessons are accessed on mobile devices.
Mobility, though on the list for more than a year now, still has a swathe of unexplored territories in online learning world. With almost everyone of us carrying a smartphone, anything that reaches and is accessible on our devices has a bigger possibility of consumption than on a PC. Elearning providers when designing courses have to think mobile first, as most of the modern learners love to do things on-the-go. Microlearning lessons, elearning games and video lessons, which are becoming significant contributors to any elearning program are best consumed on mobile devices.
Games that Teach Lessons
Gamification is not a new word for the industry, however it remains trending more than before, the reason being its wide acceptance by the industry and the multiple benefits that come with games as lessons. We all love to play little games on our devices and feel accomplished when the score is rising or a level is crossed, the same behavior is exploited by gamified elearning lessons. Besides, gamified lessons are proven to engage the learners more than plain text or mundane lectures, they are not stressful, and they can be adapted for any subject or skill. We will see a rise in gamification of learning in future with elearning providers offering more and more of the service.
Varied Sources of Content
Content generation for elearning does not have to be necessarily done by course authors and trainers only. User interaction with the courses generates ample amount of content that could lead to new insights, SMEs can have their own interpretations and ideas which could lead to better comprehension of concepts. User generated content is taking form as a new trend in the industry. Platform providers have to offer tools that accumulate and optimize user content. This practice will have benefits for enterprise learning wherein stakeholders can provide quick insights leading to better collaboration and exchange of ideas.
Artificial Intelligence as a Game Changer
Artificial Intelligence has been disrupting industries by numbers, education is one industry that has a broad range of use cases and game changing applications from AI. 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. Microsoft’s VP, Anthony Salcito sees a lot of potential in what we can do with cloud and AI and integration of systems. “It’s not about taking data sets, consolidating them and then having everyone use charts and graphs to decide a path. It’s actually having the data in an underlying way orchestrate the right activities, the right experiences and the connections that you need to make to content, to students, to the environment. And that’s true both on the classroom side, but also on the back end.”
He says it’s less about data and more about experience, so based on the learner’s aspiration in terms of career, his schedule, what classes and tests he’s taking, and who his peer groups are — his learning environment can change, and using data fuel the experiences that are unique to him based on his own conditions.
Elearning can gain immensely from Artificial Intelligence, it can augment and complement the efforts from instructors, help them in identifying loopholes in their training methods via feedback and through other data sets help the organization in building a holistic and appropriate learning environment for every individual learner.
With the shape changing nature of elearning industry it’s hard to keep up with every trend and upgrade the existing system. However it’s essential to review the programs and keep an eye on how things evolve, some parts of the evolution become integrated into the industry making it imminent to embrace them. Apart from the above mentioned trends many other concepts take form every season. E.g., online learning mainly consists of interaction with machines, but this doesn’t mean human interaction is not possible. Programs can include a human touch with video lessons, webinars and live discussions among instructors and group of learners. So, more of ‘Human Touch’, which caters to the innate emotional needs of learners will advance as a trend in future. Besides, adaptive learning, interactive videos and social learning are essential parts of any successful elearning programme.