Throughout history, there is a recurring pattern indicating that any large scale crisis evokes tectonic shifts in society. The one we had a chance to witness recently was global transfer to remote teaching due to the COVID19 pandemic.
The whole process was fueled by the global phenomena of digitizing every industry and aspect of our society. This further leads to the fact that many parts of our daily lives that used to be separate will now converge. The pandemic was simply the catalyst.
Since schools are a cornerstone of personal youth development and a form of daycare for working parents, it is most likely that a great part of the population will return to traditional education institutions after the pandemic dies down.
However, the difference is that online learning will now be more acceptable and credible than it was in the past. The trend of homeschooling might increase in the following years, followed by a growing number of working professionals seeking ways to obtain post-secondary education. As a matter of fact, the global market for eLearning is projected to reach US$ 305.3 billion by 2025.
The Future of Higher Education
It’s not just the online learning global market that is getting pricey, higher education institutions have a fair share of growing expenses too. The increasing costs of investments in technology, teachers’ salaries, and administrative matters have put numerous colleges and universities under pressure.
Adding to the financial pressure, advances in technology are putting the business model for many educational institutions under threat as learning is no longer limited to the traditional classroom.
These pressures all lead to a great finale: Higher education institutions that were once confined to grooming adolescents are now responsible for training and retraining adults throughout their careers.
Online learning has given people a choice to upskill or retrain at the comfort of their home using web-powered devices. Who doesn’t like the idea of cozying up under the checked blanket with the cup of whatever-warms-up-your-soul instead of losing your breath while hurrying to campus?
When it comes to higher education institutions, learning platforms offer solutions for reducing costs and increasing return on investment by allowing for reduction of manpower and classroom-based resources, and can also assist with scalability.
While a traditional classroom can fit a limited number of students and teachers that can fit into one class, the capacities of a virtual classroom are almost endless.
Still, among the arguments against online education, one of the hot topics is certainly questioning if online classes should go past the capacity of traditional classes.
Numerous debates led to a number of experts claiming that the size of an online class matters the most when students are engaged in real-time discussions in which they can see each other on the screen. This elearning method is better known as synchronous learning and is much less common than asynchronous learning, which allows learners to study at their convenience.
Predictions For Education in The Future
From chalkboards to laptops, innovative technology has been an essential part of education for centuries.
The future of education is inevitably digital, but to what extent is a question that will answer itself in the times ahead of us. Based on observance and various research we were able to deduce the following predictions for the future of online learning:
The number of younger students enrolling in online courses will increase
Even before the pandemic, online programs were undergoing change in student demographics.
The lower tuition and flexible hours attract more and more students in the age range of 18-23 apart from working professionals changing careers or getting additional certifications.
They as well want to save their money and to have the commodity to commit to their obligations while pursuing higher education.
According to Bay View Analytics, nearly 3.3 million college students, or 1 out of every 6, took only online classes in 2018.
Online education could level the growing cost of a traditional four-year higher education
The COVID19 crisis may help online education gain some much-needed credibility in the world of higher education and among employers.
Due to financial and psychological impacts that pandemic left on students worldwide, the majority of them will most likely opt for less expensive schools and for studying from their homes.
Admissions at more higher education institutions will be test-optional
Another potential change to the standard model could be adopting test-optional admission policies as current social distancing procedures have impeded the scheduling of standardized tests.
As numerous institutions announced that they will follow this model for the upcoming academic year (2020-2021), this could be the pilot year for the education system to try out a test-optional policy which could lead to adopting it in the long run.
We’ll see an increase in blended learning
As necessity is the mother of invention, experts foresee an increase in blended learning once educational institutions return to normal.
One part of the course materials would be in an online format, and other would be presented on campus in the form of traditional face-to-face instruction.
The future of online learning is only partially predictable, but the journey through discovering all the possibilities it brings will be nothing short of exciting.
We will get to see how will online schools grow in the future as they continue to evolve to meet the needs of jobs and technology that have yet to be invented.
One far-fetched prediction for the future of education states that in 2050 at least 90 percent of the student population will be enrolled in online programs and that the education system will be fully democratised and globalised, overcoming the age limit and erasing social, geographical and national boundaries.
Future learning courses are predicted to be powered by superfast networks and virtual and augmented reality technologies that will enable students to have the same experience as their on-campus counterparts.
The Advantages And Importance of Online Learning
As our society is highly competitive and time-starved, online learning provides people from diverse groups with the opportunity to add value to their current skill set and broaden their horizons without the constraints of time or place.
Thanks to the Internet and the rise of educational technology, people from remote parts of the world where traditional learning is facing various obstacles have a chance to receive the education they need in the form of online courses.
- Online education brings about setting a schedule that fits everyone’s agenda.
- It allows for a customized learning experience considering individual requirements and level of ability.
- There is something for everyone, as a growing number of higher education institutions are offering online versions of their programs for various levels and disciplines.
- Virtual learning utilizes multimedia sources like videos, blogs or podcasts to help students retain information. As much as 94% of the lecturers have found video learning quite effective, even better than in person learning through traditional text-books.
- Elearning is more cost-effective than traditional education.
If done the right way, online learning can be as good or even better than in-person classroom learning, according to a number of researches.
The secret ingredient for success is combining elements of an individual’s self-monitored studying process with going online and interacting with their peers and teachers in real-time.
For this purpose, teachers need to leverage technology features such as online chat, discussion forums, replayable video lessons, online meetings, etc. to make students more engaged compared to time-strapped classrooms where students are mostly reluctant to actively participate.
The Final Word
While classroom learning continues to be valued, many people no longer need or want to be tied to a particular place or time to learn new skills, acquire knowledge and gain relevant qualifications for today’s fast-changing marketplace.
Students everywhere will need to continue to adapt to innovations in educational technology and stay motivated in their own self-development.
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