Five Online Education Trends in 2015

Staying up to date in the e-learning community is what we’re all about. Whether for students taking one class online to enhance what they learn on campus, or students who are attaining their full degree online, distance learning continues to grow in popularity. It has become a worldwide phenomenon. From the beginning of 2014 through the end of 2016, the global rate of growth in the e-learning market is expected to be 7.9%. In Asia, the growth rate is a staggering 17.3%, being driven by countries like China, India, and Australia.

Naturally, a learning medium that uses the Internet is constantly being updated, taking advantage of the newest technologies, platforms, and learning styles. Here are a few ways online education is changing the game as we know it with these top trends for 2015.

  1. Gamification – All that time you thought was wasted playing Candy Crush? Well, good news: you were only honing your learning skills. We can’t talk about the future of online education without talking about gamification. The social element of gaming in education is key as well: learning how to work together. Not only have educational courses implemented gaming into their curriculum, but more and more companies are using it to solve problems as well. Having a more legit background in gaming will mean serious points to your future employers.
  2. Mobile Learning – Every business, brand, and corporation out there is looking for ways to go mobile these days and it makes sense for education to hop on the trend as well. Being able to use apps related to education across a variety of platforms, regardless of operating system, will be the new normal. Not to mention the possibility of wearable tech making a move as well. While staring at your watch won’t replace going to class, new applications for ‘on the go’ scenarios in the field will become more and more used with wearable tech. This could also include augmented learning where the environment will adapt to the learner. This can be done with location-based functionality engaging students based on GPS activity through perhaps an Apple Watch or Google Glass.
  3. PersonalizationAccording to elearningindustry.com, “Learning content, questions and feedback will be tailored to the learner’s proficiency level, interests, and personal motivators.” More value will be placed on the individual as a learner as opposed to just another small part of an anonymous group. More individualized teaching = a more enlightened learner.
  4. Corporate MOOCs – As Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) become more popular as a learning tool, more corporations will not only train employees in this way, but use MOOCs for recruiting, vendor education, and consumer education. Necessarily, these courses won’t be free like the majority of MOOCs are now. But in return, this shared knowledge will theoretically increase corporate social responsibility.
  5. Cloud-Based LMS – Learning Management Systems (LMS) will continue to grow, but will become more cloud based, as opposed to software based (like Blackboard and Moodle). Cloud based learning platforms experienced over 50% growth last year, and forecasts suggest that it will be a $7.83 billion industry by 2018. Once again, elearningindustry.com has a great list of examples such as TalentLMS, Docebo, and more.

While these are the five biggest trends changing the face of online education and distance learning in general, there are even more ways that many people are predicting will become more popular as well.

  • Return on Investment – ROI is always an important factor for students and universities know they have to deliver now more than ever.
  • Application Programming Interface – Essentially, APIs will create more interaction between interfaces. For example, if a user finishes an eLearning course, then the instructor will be emailed to be notified about it.
  • Competency Based Education – Instead of traditional degrees and certificates, students will demonstrate mastery of a skill through an e-portfolio or interactive transcript.

And this is still only the tip of the iceberg. While online education is still a new field, it seems to have hit a plateau…for now. But give the field another decade or two, and distance learning as we know it today, will be nothing more than another passing trend of the past.


About Sarah Bass

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Sarah manages the editorial operations for Best Online Universities. Her responsibilities include proofing, editing, and developing content for the company’s Web sites. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree from Drake University and an MA in Writing from DePaul University. When she isn't working on new and entertaining articles for BestOnlineUniversities.com you will most likely find her curled up with a good book, walking her dog, Roger, or breaking the sound barrier on the Nürburgring.