The internet is changing the way most people learn. Online education is mostly unrestricted (if you have an internet-enabled device) and available to all irrespective of their region, lifestyle, or situation.
Traditional education is majorly gated, whereas online education leverages the spread of knowledge. And that’s why it’s the next emerging industry.
Due to its wider reach and flexibility, and access, it allows beginners to kickstart their career in the desired field, and professionals too can rise in the employment hierarchy or make a career change.
Online education helps people steer their career trajectory. It empowers them to learn what they want, how they want, and when they want. This has given birth to many crucial e-learning trends that are disrupting the industry.
In this article, you’ll learn why online education is a rising industry. And the major trends that are driving the education reformation.
Advantages of Online Education
1. Online Education is Cost-Effective
Ask anyone who wants to pursue their interest, and they will tell you, “but, I can’t go back to school.” There is a bit of truth here because not everyone can enroll into a premier institution to learn or any physical center due to lack of resources, time, and even distances. But with online education, you don’t have to go back to school. Instead, you can learn at home at a minimal cost.
2. Online Education is Available to Anyone, Anywhere
Online shops never close; they are available 24/7. Similarly, online education platforms are up and running all day long. All you need is an internet and a compatible device (mobile, tablet, laptop).
As long as you’re connected to the internet, you can learn from your place. For instance, a student in India, at home, can listen to a Massive Online Open Course or MOOC lecture from the London Business School.
3. Online Education offers Variety
There are more than 100,000 courses available in Udemy, an online learning platform, and more than 3,000 courses on Coursera alone. This implies that online education offers the best exposure in terms of the range of subjects. The demand for online education has surged in recent years because of the available options.
An artist can learn to code, a writer can learn to design, and a designer can learn marketing. The possibilities are endless in e-learning.
4. Saves, Time, Energy, and Resources
The emerging trends in online education have reduced the time taken to complete graduation. With online education, you can cover two years of course in one year. What’s more, e-learning has made it easier for students to graduate from premier institutes worldwide. This makes it a fair case of equality in education.
5. E-Learning is Customizable
The traditional education system binds students into a course for many years. It becomes hard for them to switch or learn other things. Online education solves this problem because it’s customizable. You need to figure out your career goals and start learning the skills to equip you on the way.
For instance, I’ve learned marketing by taking up online courses and listening to lectures from various universities. Along the way, I also learned graphic design because I was keen to learn different skills. E-learning made it possible to customize my learning curve as per my goals.
Biggest Online Education Trends That Are Disrupting The Industry
After work-from-home, learn-from-home is here. Here are the top trends that are revolutionizing the way we learn:
1. People are Learning from World-Class Experts
With the rise of online education, it’s becoming easier to learn from experts. World-class experts from various fields have started sharing their knowledge, skills, and lessons with students.
E-learning allows renowned experts to broadcast their message over the internet. They don’t need to visit every classroom to teach. Instead, they can pack their teachings and insights into courses and books and distribute them over the internet.
For instance, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Paul Graham are doing this every day.
2. Increasing Optimization of Learning
E-learning empowers you to choose your courses, pace, time, and even instructor. In short, you’re in charge of your learning curve. Move fast or slow without hindering other student’s progress. Review video lectures, record sessions, or listen to an audiobook repeatedly without any slack in learning to optimize the overall progress.
Trends in online education show that this flexibility is the primary reason for more people preferring to learn over the internet. As per EducationData.org, ‘between 25-50% of instructions, assignments, and discussion takes place online.’
Further, students study course material outside class and utilize classroom time to reinforce learning, clear doubts, and engage in discussion with their instructor. This hybrid model of e-learning brings the best of two worlds; classroom and virtual room.
3. Higher Institutions are Expanding their Online Learning Programs
Post-pandemic trends show a significant decline in e-learning in the K-12 segment. But the higher education sector is still rising. Flexibility and convenience are the main reasons why students and professionals are opting for online education. The work-life balance that online education brings triumphs over traditional systems.
As e-learning continues to grow, higher education institutions will expand their online curriculum as a response. This will bring in more variety and quality in the study resources available online. However, it should be noted that online education will be complementary to their classroom programs.
4. Steady Rise of MOOCs
Soon after the pandemic lockdown MOOCs were in high demand. Coursera revealed it garnered 10 million enrollments in 30 days—a 644% increase compared to their 2019 figures. Similarly, Udacity received more student sign-ups in one week of March than the last quarter combined.
Massive Open Online Courses are more than just free and low-cost alternatives to traditional education. They provide more value to the learner in terms of micro-skills. Learners have the freedom to master different micro-credentials in the form of stackable skills.
Udacity has already partnered with Google and AT&T to develop nano-degree programs at low cost. Thus, we can expect an increase in the number of MOOCs as they focus on deliberate subjects and in-demand skills.
5. Modern Learners want On-Demand Content
Modern learners are incredibly agile in equipping themselves with the latest technology. This inspires them to leverage technology for learning. Today, students want to adopt a self-serve approach in education. They want to steer their career direction by choosing the content they want to consume.
This is where mobile learning truly matches the learner’s needs. It’ll also continue to be the preferred mode of delivery for microlearning. Microlearning, in contrast to courses, offers short bursts of information.
Modern learners are keen on educating themselves as quickly as possible for even the smallest of tasks. For instance, students can watch a short instructional video before performing a task to understand the thought process.
6. Critical Role of AI in Online Education
AI has already reformed business, sales, marketing, transportation, and even healthcare. Now, AI is integrating into the education system to bring personalization. Many institutions have already incorporated AI to optimize operations and enrollments. Now, online education is becoming the next big industry that’ll pass $6 billion by 2024.
The major education trend is personalized learning enabled by AI. Thanks to machine learning, AI will become increasingly accurate in recommending content to students. AI algorithms will offer courses to students based on their behavior, profile, and performance.
These systems will also measure the progress by regular testing. What’s more, AI will offer customized content (quizzes, videos, etc.) to match learning requirements.
For instance, Carnegie Learning’s “Mika” software has cognitive and AI technologies to offer personalized tutoring and real-time feedback for post-secondary education students.
7. Wide Adoption of Learning Management System (LMS)
Analytics is the next technology, after AI, that is being integrated with online education. Colleges or universities are realizing the role of big data analytics in learning outcomes. For instance, LMS offers options to track the key performance factors of students.
The University of Baltimore in Maryland found a positive correlation between students’ grades and their LMS usage. “Students who get Cs and Fs continually demonstrated 40% lower usage of the university’s LMS compared to students receiving a C or better.” (Hanover Research, 2016)
Further, institutions can use LMS to generate course reports. Metrics like completion rate and course pass percentage can help in effectively designing courses. Data like how often students access content or the time spent on a material can bring out the areas that need improvement.
8. Video becomes the Preferred mode of Learning
Video is a versatile mode of learning because it’s interactive and facilitates mobile learning. With an increasing number of learners opting for interactive content, video outperforms text-based learning. A study by Pearson backs this trend as 82% of GenZ accepted YouTube as their preferred mode of learning.
Video-based learning has existed for years, but interactive video learning is a new phenomenon. The interactive mode erases issues like passive viewing and inefficient performance tracking. It brings engagement by offering embedded questions, quizzes, notes, keywords, and much more.
9. OER Continues to Rise
Textbooks are becoming increasingly costly for students. College students spend about $1,290 on books and associated materials (CollegeBoard survey). The alternative is OER (Open Educational Resources) over traditional formats. Digital OERs are steadily replacing printed material as they are cost-effective and compact.
Widespread acceptance of OER by faculties and students is a rising education trend that will become mainstream in future. Further, the US and UNESCO have been supporting OERs to build open and inclusive learning resources.
10. Gamification Will Play a Crucial Role in Education
Even with learning mode advancements in online education, in-person learning won’t become redundant. Teachers will find ways to complement—not substitute—classroom learning with technology. Gamification is already transforming domains like business, hiring, life coaching, UX, and now education. Modern technology using games shows promising benefits in students’ performance.
Institutions enable gamification strategies like leaderboards, scorecards, and badges to encourage student participation in activities outside classes. Further, there have been studies advocating the positive effects of serious games in education. Gamification is effective in increasing engagement, cognitive abilities, and motivation to learn.
Of course not all schools and teachers have the time and resources to build serious games. Still, they might experiment with tools that bring gamification into the classroom. For instance, games like Quizizz and Kahoot! Can convert any topic into a game.
11. Online Communities are the New Classrooms
Online learning doesn’t mean learning alone. Communities exist all over the internet and involve like-minded peers. Not just YouTube, instructors are also building communities on Slack to reinforce engaged learning. It makes it easier to connect with peers who are at the same level as you and with peers more experienced than you.
Online communities foster relationships between students all over the world. Also, it motivates students to learn when everyone around is also learning. Communities are on the rise as they are a virtual campus of like-minded people with similar goals.
For instance, Product School’s Slack community is the largest Slack community for product managers. They hold a private group with over 6000 product managers from all around the world. It serves the needs of beginners exploring the basics and an experienced professional looking to build relations.
The flexibility of online education has convinced parents that their kids can learn from the kitchen table. A rising number of youngsters are now getting homeschooled by their parents. The wide availability of the internet, personalized learning, and cost-effectiveness of homeschooling are the major reasons for its popularity.
It’s fascinating to see how parents are knitting home study systems around their children's interests. Actually, this education trend accelerated during the pandemic. Before COVID-19, only 3% of American students were homeschooled.
But post-pandemic, parents are more likely to adopt homeschooling because it’s safer, cheaper, and flexible. In fact, the homeschool population showed a growth rate of 2% to 8% per annum over the past years, but it grew dramatically between 2019 and 2021 (NHERI).
Learn from Home is the New Era of Education
Trends are the statistical response to a prominent change happening in an industry. E-learning was steadily growing over the past years, but lockdowns forced students and professionals to adopt other learning methods.
Most students are happy with the ROI on online education. The perks and wide range of knowledge available at the fingertips trumps traditional education. In the coming years, we’ll likely see a unique combination of classrooms and online tutoring.
Physical classrooms are not going to disappear anytime soon, but they will evolve. It’ll be fascinating to witness how schools and colleges modify teaching structures to inculcate online education. Thus, merging the best of the two worlds.
Featured Image Illustration by Freepik Storyset
Statistics sources: Edchoice, NHERI, CollegeBoard, Pearson,