Distance learning is the trend 2021: how to get good results

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Multi Ethnic Group of friends meet for a Bible Study. Group includes a teenager, young adults, mid-adult and senior adult. Close up of the Bibles.

And judging by all appearances, distance learning will remain in demand for a long time to come: new strains of coronavirus are already emerging, for which existing vaccines may prove ineffective. And the spread of a new aggressive strain means that schoolchildren and students will again have to switch to distance learning en masse. This got me thinking, what will online education be like in the fall of 2021? Will it be different from its version of last year?

It’s worth saying, the trends in online education that we’re seeing particularly clearly now have existed before. While the pandemic has greatly stimulated them, it hasn’t brought anything new to the field. All of the trends I’m going to talk about today existed before: the pandemic just accelerated them and made them more visible. So, here’s what I think we should expect from online education in the near future!

The growth of the online education market

The growth in demand for online education is not only due to the epidemic, but also due to the social and economic crisis it has led to. For example, many people today are losing their jobs, so they are urgently mastering new professions. Both at a time when the disease is on the rise and when the economy is recovering from the pandemic, many people may have problems finding a new job. In such a case, courses that allow them to quickly upgrade their skills or change competencies will be their lifeline.

After all, a modern person has many more opportunities to change fields of work than a person from the past. The very structure of employment is changing now. Gartner found back in a 2020 study that one-third of organizations had given up permanent employees in favor of self-employed workers. Now a full-time job with a fixed salary guarantees neither stable career growth, nor stable employment: now only those who constantly improve their professional level can count on it. And most often it is possible to combine with work only distant education. Otherwise, how else will you manage to work and live? I myself created the Lectera platform precisely in order to solve this problem of the incompatibility between the modern lifestyle and education. So I can say with confidence: online courses are the best way to stay in demand and relevant today.

Improving the quality of online education

Ten years ago it was difficult to check what results a new approach to learning or a new methodology of teaching gives. Now it has become much easier to collect feedback: the Internet, electronic questionnaires, and social networks.  And even experienced specialists can help to compile a methodology, for example here https://studycrumb.com/how-to-write-methodology-for-research. Teachers can try absolutely different tools and quickly see how exactly they influence the educational process – positively or negatively. At the same time, students themselves now have access to the same tools and can compare them with each other, share their experiences, or “peek” at the practices of other universities. In this way, students and teachers work together, selecting together only the best and most effective methods.

However, because of this, competition in the online education market is growing rapidly. Online learning platforms and authoring course creators are going out of their way to get the highest ratings for their content. Is that a good thing? Of course it is, though it’s difficult for most small platforms. But a diverse market is an incentive for innovators to come up with something new and move forward. So the market will become even faster and of higher quality!

In the most prestigious universities of the world there are more and more online training programs. This is a logical process: online learning allows the teacher to transmit his knowledge to a much larger number of students than it is possible offline (there are no limitations on the size of the classroom!). Thanks to this, it is now possible to study online at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London and other distinguished educational institutions.

Commercial platforms were the first to use digital technology for distance education, and now public schools and universities are also using it. Digitalization completely changes the organization of the educational process, making it more open and democratic. Hence the following trends.

Hybrid learning

The year 2020 has shown how effective online learning can be, but how useful and irreplaceable classroom instruction is for certain subjects or specialties. Even the most advanced platforms cannot yet replace live interaction with classmates, for example. This is the challenge that online education faces today, and I see the solution exactly in hybrid learning.

The educational system evolves when it offers students new learning formats, new ways to reach their potential. Hybrid learning, or, as it is also called, “blended learning,” uses both online and offline methods to combine the advantages of these two approaches, but neutralize their disadvantages. Thus, an entirely new educational concept is born, which may eventually change classical education worldwide.

The year 2021 could be the year of rapid growth of online education: a new tightening of quarantine measures is still possible, but educational institutions and commercial companies already have experience in the rapid implementation of distance learning. All the trends I described in the article will set the direction of online education for a long time to come. However, we should never rule out the possibility of the sudden emergence of new technologies that will turn our idea of education upside down again. After all, the twenty-first century is highly unpredictable, and personally I will not be surprised by anything!

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