Changing landscape – Seven online learning trends to watch out in 2021

The digital learning landscape is undergoing rapid transformation as a consequence of the pandemic. Educational institutions are adopting hybrid models, video-based content and leveraging technology to make online learning more participatory and interactive for students.
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This COVID 19 pandemic impacted education of 1.26 billion children worldwide as estimated by the UNESCO, with over 300 million children just from India. The sudden realisation of the need to be able to function remotely and to keep businesses, services, and systems running at all times have caused the online education sector to embrace the digital space swiftly.

As a response, the online and ed-tech industry has grown tremendously. Also, educational institutions have rapidly adopted digital technologies and increased the use of the Internet to impart learning digitally.

The change in digital learning landscape was already happening. As per Statista, today India has around 700 million internet users. This is expected to grow immensely in the next decade. Given the context, the online learning space is witnessing the following emerging trends.

Transitioning to online learning

Digital transformation, whether in part or whole, is going to be vital for traditional education businesses. This essentially means that educational institutions will implement hybrid models which will have students in classes as well as those connected virtually.

The way one teaches will also transform significantly, making classrooms equally suited for the digitally connected students. Those businesses who don’t turn digital will lose market advantage.

Rapid growth in K12 ed-tech sector

Supported by the National Education Policy and driven by recent developments due to the pandemic, the ed-tech sector will grow rapidly. As per a 2019 industry report, the K12 education sector is expected to show a six times growth to reach $1.7 Bn by 2022.

More schools and institutions will now have hybrid formats, leveraging technologies to promote digital learning amongst students across families. This is going to be a marked shift from traditional medium.

Strengthening role of online learning in post-K12 sector

The post-K12 sector includes higher education, technical skilling, test preparation for government and other professions. The importance of higher education degrees for better job roles has grown in the past decade. There is a lot of focus on both technical and non-technical skilling and upskilling.

Also, traditionally, high volume of aspirants prepare for government exams. Collectively, the entire post-K12 online learning space is expected to grow by three times to touch USD 1.8 Bn by 2022.

Video-based content will grow

Online learning is going to be one of the biggest spaces for producing and consuming video content. The content will range from streaming and recording of live classrooms to production of dedicated videos on educational concepts.

Focus on interactive content

One of the major benefits of offline classes is that they appear more interactive, personal, and focussed yet exciting. However, for an educator or a student, the virtual class today may appear less personal and interactive.

Online learning space is grappling with the challenge at present and is finding ways and means, such as digital boards, real-time quizzes, polls, etc., to make virtual classrooms more interactive and participatory through either content or technology.

Rise of advanced digital technologies

Evolving technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR) will completely reinvent the online learning experience. AI has the potential to understand and assess the learning abilities of students and help us build with stronger educational programs.

AR/VR has the potential to transport a student to a dedicated, programmed educational environment and experience learning like never before.

For instance, AR/VR and video capabilities will be able to provide the right environment to learn various concepts of science by watching experiments which are highly difficult to perform or replicate in classroom environment.

Supporting operations – admissions, customer service and marketing

Online learning is changing the complete experience of enrolling in a course to completing it. Therefore, there are chatbots and AI tools to guide a candidate through the complete process of filling forms. These tools are also being leveraged to respond to program specific or content-specific queries.

The customer and educational services including content, technology, and programs, except those being conducted live, will be available 24 by 7 for the benefit of students. Also, with more people available on the Internet, digital marketing will take centre stage for offline or online institutions.

While the trends will strengthen over time, one future development can actually revolutionise online learning and take it to the next level. The 5G internet connectivity can be a game changer in the field of online learning, making various possibilities a reality.

For that to happen, India needs to come up with a National Digital Education Mission, with the aim to integrate the country with 4G connectivity, and thereafter, usher in the era of 5G. With faster data connectivity and evolving technologies, online learning would provide us a great opportunity to democratise basic education and to achieve the longstanding Indian dream of 100% literacy and K12 education.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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