10 Trends in Online Education to Look Out For in 2014

In 2013, the E-Learning industry was a $56.2 billion business and is likely to double in size before 2015. As online learning continues to grow, it will become more technologically advanced and integrated. Specifically, here are some trends to look out for in 2014:

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1.    Experiential Learning Supplemented by More Multimedia. As educators become more comfortable in the online space, resources will become more robust as well. Video is a particularly effective online learning tool, which reduces cognitive load, especially in quick videos and other “mini bytes” of content that are easy to digest.

2.    Growth of the EduCloud. Offering quick access to a variety of resources, the cloud will continue to become more and more integral in online education. Specifically, it will allow teachers to share coursework with students and update assignments quickly. It also offers an environment for collaboration between students working on group projects through document sharing and collaboration.

3.    More social media in the classroom. Online classes offer natural connectivity to other Internet resources, including social networks. Providing a space for building learning communities, these sites allow students to come together and discuss assignments, check due dates and confirm points discussed in class. Facebook will be particularly important, with group pages providing a tool for all members of a class to come together. Social networks will also be built specifically for learning online, such as Hoot.Me.

4.    Development of Just-in-Time Learning. In today’s digitally connected world, students are used to findings answers exactly when they need them. “Just-In-Time Learning” or “Pervasive Learning,” as described by Dan Pontefract, is learning at the speed of need through formal, informal and social learning modalities**.  As more content is available through these channels, students will be able to find accurate information efficiently using a variety of sources online.

5.    Increased Use of mLearning Apps. As mobile phones become more popular as learning tools, unique applications developed specifically for students, or mLeanring apps, will grow in number as well. Integrating the mobile environment to the learning resources available on traditional computers will be an essential component of these applications. They will also feature connectivity to specific mobile resources, such as eBook adaptations for the small screen and links to other online resources, such as Google Scholar for mobile.

6.    Open textbooks that Professors Can Edit. While eBooks have become commonplace resources, both in online and offline learning, the next step in innovation will include editable textbooks. This will allow teachers to provide custom commentary on content as it applies to the particular course’s curriculum.

7.    Integration across devices. Using online resources, class materials will be available across a variety of devices, from mobile to traditional to tablet. From grades to assignments to class discussions, students will be able to access the content they need from a variety of devices.

8.    Continued Growth of MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses, abbreviated as “MOOCs,” are classes offered by top universities to students across the country for free. Providing knowledge on in-depth topics from subject matter experts, these classes offer the potential for students to expand their knowledge base from the comfort of their own homes.

9.    BOYD to Class. For those hybrid classes that include both traditional classroom lessons as well as online learning, universities and professors will become more open to students using their own devices in the classroom. While laptops are already pervasive in mot classroom settings, tablets and mobile phones will also become valuable learning tools in the classroom.

10.    Increased Input from Industry Experts. Similar to Ted Talks, which allow the best and brightest minds to share their ideas about certain topics, online classrooms will begin to harness the knowledge of experts in real-time through guest lecturers and expert panels. These days, it’s easy to connect to leaders through social networks and to ask them to disseminate their thoughts through video lectures, which will provide valuable and unique content to online classrooms in 2014.

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