E-Learning Trends – 2020

A look at where tech-enabled learning is going in the coming year

E-Learning – first coined by Elliott Maisie in 1999 – is learning using technology outside the traditional classroom. Typically, a course or program is delivered online through the internet. Unlike courses delivered through TV, CD/DVD, or videotape, it is interactive, where the trainer and the students can interact with each other. Some courses allow live participation of students, who can raise doubts, answer questions, take tests and get graded.

Dr. John Moravec, author and founder of Knowmad Society, in his TEDx talk in 2013, predicted the increasing presence of knowmads by 2020. Knowmads, according to him, are people who love to travel, with knowledge, skills and creativity to support them through the trip, gained from continuous learning from online platforms, what we call E-Learning. Knowledge-based industries have an ever-growing hunger for knowmads – people who are willing to invest time and money in updating themselves. They are quick learners who are comfortable with the latest technology. All this is possible with courses over the net.

Where is E-Learning Going? 

Some trends for 2020 and beyond

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

Big Data analytics are a must for personalized learning. One of the positives about e-learning is its personalized nature. Courses are customized according to the preference of the learner, from geography, to timings, to type of offering. Most enterprises are investing in Machine Learning (ML) to enable systems to learn from data got from user trends and patterns. Big Data Analytics collect student data, which is then used to tailor courses, syllabus, content, tests, and quizzes as per students’ preferences and aptitudes. Big Data, along with Artificial Intelligence (AI), tells the Learning Management System (LMS) where the learners are making mistakes, what part is difficult for them to understand, and suggests the most suitable path the learner can take in the course. Get Me A Course (GMAC) by EdSanta, a data-driven company for aggregating online courses does just that – utilising AI and Big Data to recommend the best learning route a learner can take to move up the career ladder.

Game-based Courses

How many times have you zoomed past topics skipping boring content? Poorly designed courses, outdated and dull content and delivery are a few of the reasons for high dropout rates in e-learning. A study shows that student satisfaction in both dropouts and those who continued were almost the same, meaning that those who continued with the course did so just to complete it, and not out of interest.

Engaging the learners and reducing dropout rates is one of the challenges of any course, online or classroom-based. Making classes fun is one such solution to keep learners hooked on to courses. Gamification of courses will be a big trend in the coming days where courses are designed to be navigable like games: with a storyline, characters, puzzles, mysteries to solve and more, adding a fun angle to the concepts. When tests, assignments and projects are game-based, the learners do not see them as a chore, and will participate actively in all activities. The element of competitiveness is added with leaderboards, badges, easter eggs and giveaways. This makes concepts easy to understand, increases the interest levels of the learners, and can encourage them to take up some more courses.

Game-based learning can be any or a combination of the following:

  • Partial Gamification: Only assignments, quizzes, tests can be game based. The quiz can be something on the lines of a maze, where the learner answers questions to unlock some areas to move ahead and answer the next question. Users take it as a challenge if there is a fun element added.
  • Game-based learning: The entire course is game-based. Fictional characters are created and the character moves through a story throughout the course. The learner identifies with the character and has a strong connection with it. This has a lasting impression making the course easy to remember.
  • Game-based learning path: The course is broken down into topics. The learner moves from one to another like a game – solving puzzles, answering questions and unlocking locks, and earning points as they move from one topic to another. This method also allows flexibility to pursue any stream of topics the user wants, breaking the monotony.
  • Gamified portals: They contain environments with 3D visuals for a complete learning experience. Learners are given tasks, and they learn as they complete the tasks, earning points, badges or scores as incentives.

VR-based Courses

No, these are not courses on virtual reality (VR), but rather, courses taught using VR. Suppose you have taken a course in history. A VR-based history course takes you on a virtual tour through all the museums, archaeological sites, forts and monuments with rich 3D visuals; makes you a spectator to the battles fought, runs through the inscriptions, manuscripts and writings of the era. Such immersive experience will change the way learning is done.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-created three-dimensional environment that the user can interact with and be a part of. Users can immerse themselves in a virtual world using a VR headset. VR is used in gaming, simulation of environments such as a planet’s surface, interiors of the earth or sun. One of the major advantages of using VR in learning is that the learner is not merely a spectator to somebody else’s activities, but will be involved physically in it. All the actions necessary for a real physical activity can be done in the virtual environment, which gives the learner hands-on training. VR is used in training of pilots and drivers using simulated cockpits and road traffic conditions. NASA has been using VR extensively to train its astronauts since 2016. Google had started to offer its VR system – Cardboard – to classrooms as early as in 2015. Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank has been using Google Cardboard VR since 2016 to give their applicants an overview of the working environment.

Any subject can be converted into a VR environment where the learner goes through and gets to experience a simulated world.  Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Merged Reality (MR) will be the future of immersive learning in the immediate future.

  • Virtual Reality: It is a completely synthetic environment with no connection to the real world.
  • Augmented Reality: Real world is central to the user experience, with created environment enhancing it
  • Merged Reality: It involves an interaction of both real and virtual worlds.

E-Learning – What The Numbers Tell

Let’s leave you with a look at some e-learning market estimates in a nutshell.

  • The e-learning market is expected to reach $275 billion by 2022
  • Gartner predicts that about 70% of the companies will use gamification for trainings. The gamification market is expected to be valued at about $11 billion by 2020
  • Goldman Sachs forecasts a $110 billion to be the total targeted virtual reality market size by 2025. Out of this, educational VR is thought to be $0.7 billion.

In short, the coming days will see learning to be more interactive, fun, and hands-on – all done sitting in the comfort of one’s home, favourite coffee shop, park or even while waiting in the airport.

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