Top 5 Trends in Online Learning - NCC Education

Top 5 Trends in Online Learning 14 November 2017

Technology is expanding at an alarming rate. It is estimated that around 2.32 billion people globally have access to a smartphone and usage has increased by 220 million from 2016 (Statista 2017).

With more people using digital media in their everyday lives, online learning has become increasingly popular. Current trends in online learning include:


1. Smartphone and Tablet Usage

In the UK, 96% of young people (aged 16-24) own a smartphone (Statista 2017) and according to Elucidat (2017), 67% of people use their mobile devices to learn.

As people lead busier lifestyles, they want a convenient way of accessing information on the go. Smartphones and tablets allow students to view teaching materials whenever they need to, wherever they are.

The well-known American education writer Prensky (2001), describes young people as being ‘digital natives’ – they grew up around technology and learnt how to use mobiles, laptops and the internet from an early age. He also describes the older generation as ‘digital immigrants’ because they did not grow up with this technology and instead have to try and adapt to it over time.

‘Digital natives’ prefer to receive information quickly and can process a lot of information simultaneously in a short space of time. Hence, smartphones and tablets are a useful tool for young people to learn from.


2. Cloud Learning

Interaction between students, their lecturers, their peers and with the content of the course is vital to keep students happy and reduce attrition rates.

Cloud learning is the use of a virtual learning environment. VLEs allow students to have access to course materials whenever it is convenient for them and they also contain online past papers and quizzes to further test themselves with. Students become more engaged with the course content if they can view it online and take control of their own learning.

It is also imperative for students to have a line of communication with their lecturers, as lack of interaction between students and lecturers can lead to confusion about the course content and student dissatisfaction with the course. Cloud learning allows students to take part in online discussion forums with their lecturers and peers to instantly clarify anything and ask questions.


3. Video Lectures

Watching videos online is increasingly popular with young adults, the hours that people watch on video sharing websites such as YouTube for example, increases by 60% every year.

Videos are popular because they engage the viewers by providing them with both auditory and visual cues. It is also often easier to digest information from a video than it is to read text.

Video lectures are a progressive way to learn, as unlike face-to-face lectures, students can replay it as many times as they need. The ability to repeat the lecture is also a useful tool for revision.

With video lectures, students can take their time to familiarise themselves with the course content and ensure they understand the topics. They can additionally pause the video to search for things they’re not sure of and make notes.




4. Learning Through Gaming

In a bid to make courses more interactive, course content could be delivered through video games in the future. The further introduction of technology such as virtual reality with the Samsung Gear VR for example, can create an active approach to learning.

Games teach students about co-operation, teamwork and concentration. The interactivity of games means that students are directly engaged with the course content and are more likely to retain information from the game over usual methods such as reading.


5. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

MOOCs are courses available to access online, content is free, but courses are not always standardised and tested. Instead, they focus on teaching the student useful skills and allow them to control their own learning outcomes.

One of the most interesting features about MOOCs is that students can pick and choose different elements they would like to study; it is essentially a ‘buffet of learning’.


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Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.