Five Online Learning Trends of 2017

Studies have shown that online learning is growing at an exponential rate, as adult learners are increasingly entering the virtual classroom to continue their education. However, there are five trends in 2017 that you may find as a surprise.

1. Non-Profit Programs Are On the Rise.
Many employers are now subsidizing their employees’ educational endeavors, as it supports their business infrastructure. They are incentivizing employees to broaden their knowledge and skill sets from not-for-profit institutions. This is a transition that we will continue to see as the variety and vastness of programs offered at these institutions continues to influx.

2. Good Things Come In Small Packages.
Colleges and universities are beginning to offer more specialized programs that were not previously commonplace in online learning. These degrees, such as Elementary STEM Education and Information Security, may not contribute significantly to the school’s budget, but will compliment those existing career-changer degrees and appeal to those looking for a more strategic and specific educational experience. And, many of these programs are being developed by smaller institutions.

3. Certificates vs. Degrees.
There is an increasing uptick in non-traditional students that are advanced in their careers. These individuals are seeking a shorter, more intensive engagement that will help them climb up the corporate ladder. Industry-specific certificates allow employees the opportunity to grow in their field. Online learning is an attractive platform, as it provides the flexibility and knowledge base that these working professionals seek.

4. Show Me The Data.
Colleges and universities are now using smart systems — such as Starfish — to track students on their level of participation. These systems allow the university to set strategic parameters for notifications of when students have not logged in, completed an assigned task, etc. for an assigned period. And, students may use these same tools to take advantage of student support tools. This assists with the retention efforts and provides an increase in attrition rates, while also promoting a more intimate experience for the student.

5. What Is That You Say, Siri?
Okay, so maybe the online experience is not using Siri as a facilitator for learning environments, yet. But, several universities and colleges have begun using artificial intelligence to assist in communicating with students. This allows for a wider variety of student assistance and support. And, we are already starting to see glimpses into how AI will be used to provide mass customization in education.

As the state of the classroom continues to evolve — and the way educators disseminate information becomes increasingly more technology-based — colleges and universities have a responsibility to serve the needs of their students. Nonetheless, by committing to a growth and advancement in higher education, students will be equipped to stay ahead of this ever-changing landscape.