Online education, that was once considered the humble cousin of mainstream education, has witnessed an upward swing in the last few years. The change has been brought in not only by various technological innovations but by innovative new-age content and curriculum that online education providers offer to the learners. The online education industry in India is estimated to be a $1.96 billion industry by 2021, according to research conducted by KPMG, with insights from Google search. According to the report, the paid user base is likely to grow 6-fold – from 1.6 million users in 2016 to 9.6 million users in 2021.

Increased penetration of internet and smartphones, factors such as convenience, increased reach and personalized content offered by online education providers have led to the growth and expansion of the online education market to tier 2 and tier 3 cities as well. Online education modules today allow distant learners to join in virtual lectures, pose questions to professors, chat with fellow students and take virtual exams. Most of the programs are career-focused helping students to chalk a career path and set goals.

Trends likely to dominate Online Education

The emergence of Cloud Computing: According to Technavio analysts, the emergence of cloud computing will be one of the major trends in online teaching that we will witness in India. The cloud computing technology enables online education providers to save a significant amount of content and data on a single platform, thus making it easier for users and providers to process, obtain, access, and manage information from anywhere at any time.

Focus on future-ready career skills: As the world is changing at a rapid pace, the online educational institutions are trying to keep a balance between learning and skills required by enterprises and industry. They are offering new online courses which help students become well equipped for the jobs of tomorrow. Trends in online education point to a future in 2021, wherein we are likely to witness the launch of more such courses and career programs.

Among other online trends, we see that many digital-only institutions are offering online degrees in specialized areas such as AI, IoT, business management, data science, digital marketing and many more. These courses have been designed to equip the students with skills that are likely to dominate in the years to come

Gamified learning: Training delivery vendors are diversifying the trends in online learning stylistically. Speaking of which, gamification is likely to catch up as it makes the learning process more interesting and effective. Game learning techniques ensure a higher level of involvement and interaction from students, offer them the opportunity to experiment and introduce new technological innovations.

The modern business environment is becoming more and more complex every day. With the help of game techniques, it is easier to explain complex business concepts. During the interactive sessions, participants make decisions, develop strategies, immediately observing their influence on the financial position of the company.

Project-Based Learning: Project-based learning, allows students to demonstrate skills by developing apps, products etc. Many a time, it requires constant instructor feedback and multiple attempts if a student fails to meet the criteria.  Project-based education is the foundation of the curriculum of some online educational institutions. Students create several projects over 6-12 months and receive regular feedback to earn a degree. This form of compulsive project-based assessments will enrich subjective acumen for students changing the face of online education in India.

Blended E-learning Programs: Blended learning – online courses with offline touchpoints, is increasingly gaining popularity amongst individuals and organizations looking to upskill their employees. E-learning providers have witnessed a 25-30% jump in companies opting for the blended model over 100% e-learning courses. The model facilitates discussions and collaborative learning offers flexibility to learners who have a better completion rate.

Increase in interest in AR and VR: Though AR and VR are yet to reach their full potential in online learning, these technologies are expected to have a significant impact on online education in India in the coming years. Engagement, that has been one of the weakest aspects in many e-learning platforms, can be increased using these technologies. The use of AR and VR in online learning platforms has shown a significant increase in engagement and improved results.

Adapting existing content: The earliest Edtech ventures were quick to suggest in their pilot phases, as part of online learning trends, not all students develop a liking towards digital learning. Each of us have varying levels of grasping capacities, therefore, it is only natural that some would reject the current form and shape of Edtech. Likewise, of those who are getting used to online education, the majority is concerned with information that is “relevant” to them. In short, they don’t wish for a textbook-like experience.

Trends of online education suggest, institutions should review their existing study material, in terms of how useful, relevant and detailed the information is. They must be prepared for constant changes as well as for the introduction of new programs.

Collaborative Learning: Online education in India is being modernized with rising interest in digital modes of delivery.  While online learning will expand in the internet-matrix the effectiveness of it has to be demonstrated. A gnawing concern remains to keep isolated, remote students engaged with trainers. Collaborative learning has been proposed as a solution. As the term suggests, the methodology is designed to cultivate collaboration and experiential learning. Following the tenet, humans are social animals and learn faster with experience, the class is fragmented into groups. Each group is then given a task to fulfil, accomplishing which they can progress to the next chapter.

Metered Learning: Each of us have unique learning speeds. Now that conventional styles of teaching are taking the backseat it is plausible faculty-to-student time will increase if not the ratio. This can be done with the help of Artificial Intelligence machine learning. In fact, the collective exercise is referred to as Adaptive Learning, where students consume content on smart devices. The device/applications register and share the learning progress with the faculty along with recommendations on how to customize the curriculum for faster absorption. Given the deficit of time for attending each students, teachers can nevertheless bring students on the same page via different learning routes.

Blockchain-led-Education: Emerging trends in online education suggest an increasing proliferation of Blockchain in EdTech. Blockchain has been promoted from theory to practice with realistic applications, especially, in the Edtech Industry. Online education trends indicate that Blockchain’s immutability can be leveraged to archive student records, while at the same time practitioners can be incentivized for learning by distributing tokens, scholarships etc.

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