Although online education has been available for quite some time now, new trends continue to emerge that reshape its delivery, impact, and access. Social-cultural changes, technology, and educational philosophy all play a role in new trends to further develop the 21st-century educational arena. Here’s a list of five trends that are slowly beginning to emerge.
Many colleges have offered MOOCs for years, but a growing number of elite universities are just now jumping on board and opening its digital doors to the masses. Top-tier research universities like Harvard, Duke and Stanford are now offering free courses online. Anyone with an Internet connection can learn from well-acclaimed scientists and scholars. The elite university participation in MOOCs is about to transform higher education and is a major milestone. The response to this game changer has been tremendous. More than 150,000 students from 150 countries signed up for MIT’s first online class.
New methods are now in place for seamless collaboration among online educators and students. This trend is a direct effort to remove technological barriers and will be an integral part of the learning experience. Applications allow for work and record of conversations stored in the cloud. School projects can be accessed anytime and from multiple devices. For example, students using Google Docs can chat in real time, incorporate audio feedback and collaborate with several people. Seamless collaboration is now part of the global mindset when it comes to online learning. It is also a movement that will be enhanced with self-directed learning, virtual study groups and peer project.
The lack of a human touch has been a long unmet need for online education. New tools to connect face-to-face are now becoming the mainstay in online education. Skype, FaceTime, Google+ Hangouts are just a few of the tools educators and students use for video conversations and synchronous chat. With applications and programs that record video and audio, asynchronous interaction is also taking on a human touch. The move to humanize online education interaction is fueled by the goal to create a more meaningful and rich online learning experience.
Many learners are now taking a personalized learning approach instead of relying on institutions for education. This includes educators seeking professional development, life-long learners and students. The growth of alternative learning platforms like Degreed and Mozilla Badges provides students the ability to take charge. It lets them engage in education through social media as well as sharing and documenting. Professional development for educators now involves using social media tools. Specifically, to collaborate and connect with other educators to meet their own learning needs.
Although slow to come, e-books and open educational resources (OER) are beginning to replace the traditional textbook. With OER, students and teachers can use openly licensed media and documents for teaching and learning. E-books and OER will certainly cutback of students’ expenses and support student instruction. However, no one expects them to improve learner outcomes. One of the main reasons why e-books have been slow in integration is the controversy with publisher rights.
Online educational learning is taking a turn with new trends…will you take advantage?