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eLearning is changing as we know it - but how?

16 Feb 16

Hybrid learning, the convergence of processes, uptake of cloud-based solutions, and development of analytics are key trends impacting eLearning, according to Technavio, the market research provider.

Technavio defines an emerging trend as something that has potential for significant impact on the market and contributes to its growth or decline.

According to Jhansi Mary, Technavio education research expert, the top four emerging trends for the global eLearning market up to 2020 are:

Increased adoption of blended eLearning

Blended eLearning, also known as hybrid learning, combines traditional face-to-face interaction with web-based learning. The evolving needs of students and education industry regulators are emphasising this kind of educational method more than traditional learning methods, Mary says.

“Trainers across universities are also increasingly using blended eLearning, which has helped them effectively reach out to all end-users. Blended eLearning has made knowledge delivery more productive and efficient, as trainers share their resources and instructions online, enabling students to access these resources at their convenience,” she says.

As a result, a large number of schools and colleges are deploying this form of education instead of pure online learning, she says.

There are four models of blended learning that are commonly followed, according to Technavio:

  • Fixed schedules: This model enables students to shift between traditional classroom training and online learning according to fixed schedules. It provides a consistent framework for students to learn and work and gives them the best of blended learning.
  • Flexible: In the flex model, while online training is the primary model followed, on-site support is provided when necessary. This model creates a personalised atmosphere for students, giving them freedom to learn at their convenience.
  • Blended: In this model, students take most of the courses in the traditional classroom format, but are given the option of learning online when required to enrich their knowledge.
  • Virtual: This model provides complete training online, which is suitable for students who cannot attend classroom training. However, regular checks are made by trainers to measure the performance of students.

Convergence of learning processes

In an attempt to upgrade learning outcomes, educational institutes are moving towards competency-based teaching models, Mary says. This model requires students and educators to extensively use education technology products and services, she says.

Students and instructors have begun to create digital content, further improving personalised learning that is strongly supported by technologies like cloud computing, which provides scalable learning environments at affordable costs. From a faculty perspective, educators have begun to leverage technology to increase their role in engaging with students instead of delivering lectures.

This improves communication between students and faculty and helps instructors to assist students in developing advanced problem-solving skills. These learning processes are highly appreciated by education specialists and employers, as they reduce the skillset gap, Mary says.

Despite the emergence of digital methods of content creation and delivery, analogue materials will continue to exist and be used in tandem with digital tools. The extent of convergence of technologies and learning models will depend on the audience and the complexity of the subject, says Mary.

Cloud-based eLearning solutions

The adoption of the cloud-based e-learning model is playing an important role in boosting the growth of the global eLearning market. Speed of implementation and reduced capital expenses are the key benefits of implementing software as a service (SaaS) solutions.

A majority of organisations are migrating towards SaaS-based LMS solutions to provide a secondary learning system for special training purposes. Currently, most cloud eLearning solution providers offer features such as hacking protection, which prevents outsiders from accessing the learning material.

Other system security measures such as an SSL connection are also implemented to secure business training modules, Mary says.

Deployment of learning analytics

The adoption of learning analytics is rising in tandem with the adoption of various learning technologies and ERP software solutions among schools and colleges. Increasing competition among educational institutions worldwide to achieve quality standards in education is prompting them to structure their growth strategies and fund initiatives in efficient ways to ensure that advancements in the teaching process are quick and frequent.

For this purpose, it is essential for these institutions to continuously assess the teaching and non-teaching processes using learning analytics tools. These tools are either specially developed for institutions or are generic analytical tools that have widespread applications in other industries and are gradually gaining traction in the education market, says Mary.

“Learning analytics tools not only improve student and teacher performance assessments, but also provide real-time analysis on aspects like managing funding, admissions, content creation and archiving, payroll, and events and examinations,” says Technavio.

On realising these benefits, institutions have become more receptive toward deploying learning analytical solutions. Users of eLearning can take advantage of these tools in addition to providing online education to students, and the market is set to skyrocket through 2019, according to Technavio.

Top vendors in the market, according to the analysts, are Adobe Systems, Blackboard, Oracle and SAP.

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