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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Even though the advancements in technology until today changed many important aspects of our lives, such as for instance how we communicate to each other, how we work, how we get to work…etc., it has barely had any influence over the ways we learn and acquire knowledge/education. The year 2016 however, with the new virtual classroom and distance learning opportunities, is expected to bring about an educational revolution. The number of people who are enrolling for online courses and online degrees is on the rise. According to EdTech Magazine, 18% of students who are studying for an undergraduate degree will receive 80% of their learning via an online course. An article published on the Online Learning Consortium further adds that last year the number of students taking at least one distance learning course was up by 3.9% in comparison to the previous year. This implies that the way in which we learn and access education is finally evolving and changing as we embrace the new digital age.

The new trends

So how will education change? What are the current trends? At present the emphasis is very much on the idea of learning with a mixture of both face-to-face contact and “Electronic Learning” (eLearning). The non face-to-face aspect, or the distance learning aspect mainly involves trends like video learning. This consists of the students watching tutorials and interactive video rather than having to work through a hefty textbook. More and more students are found to be significantly more productive in visual learning and the digital age encompasses this fact. The E-learning industry also highlights the current trend for mobile learning and “gamification”. Mobile learning, often referred to as mLearning, allows students to access all learning resources online and on any device, including smartphones and tablets. This gives the learner greater flexibility with their learning schedule and allows those who may find classroom-based learning restrictive an opportunity to further their education. Gamification, on the other hand refers to the process of learning through playing games. Although not as enjoyable as regular games, gamification does entertain and allow the learner to learn while undertaking role-play or a virtual game. Those who believe that distance learning in general could be beneficial to their studies should look into online universities like for example NC IUL, who specialize in online degrees and offer all the necessary learning resources, including the mLearning platforms as well as interactive chat rooms and forums.

The Future and Social Implications

So what does the future look like for the education industry? It is predicted that online learning will grow with many employers requiring that prospective employees study for an online qualification. The skills gained from this kind of Higher Education study, according to Forbes magazine, will be widely recognised, accredited and sought after – with further training opportunities presented once in role. The ability to learn will become continuous process, where people will have 24-hour access to eLearning. If this current trend continues and the predictions are correct, then the way in which we work will also change. People, especially millenials, will no longer have to do one same job for the majority of their lives, and will instead have the opportunity to change several careers within a lifetime. The way in which we work and learn is without a doubt bound to change, and the first change coming seems very bright!

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