3 Online Learning Trends In 2017

In 2016, online education continued to become increasingly popular. More trainees are now enrolled in online courses than ever. World class universities have even begun trialling virtual and augmented reality as a learning tool. Digital companies released nano-degrees; while employers including Google and Goldman Sachs, started exploring and adopting online digital credentials. On the other hand, enrolment for on-campus degrees was reduced for the majority of United States company schools

As the calendar rolls over to 2017, here’s our list of the top 3 educational technology innovations to keep an eye out for this coming year:

Artificial  Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly popular as a tool for online education despite it being one of the most overrated innovations of 2016. By utilising computer systems processing power and combining it with the cognitive abilities of the human brain, AI is already used heavily in customer tech markets. While specifically used to power applications like Siri for the Apple products and Alexa for Amazon products; Jozef Misik, handling directorof Knowble, a language tech start-up whose products are built on AI predicts this technology will extend beyond personal assistants into the broader education industry in the near future. The increased improvements in user accessibility of AI programs combined with the falling cost of the technology will result in more educators integrating these applications into their courses
The benefit for instructors will be devices capable of carrying out standard training jobs. Algorithms can aid instructors to assess learning effectiveness as well as support delivery of content. Deep learning systems can read, compose and mimic the behaviour of people. Current examples include the “intelligent tutoring” system pioneered by Colorado State University to improve marking reliability of assessments, to the virtual education aid, ‘Jill Watson’ utilized by Georgia Tech in 2015, or the average
physics tutor.

There will be opposition to AI, such as when Moocs was introduced. Certain professors will undoubtedly be against learning to integrate the advancement of applications and the design of algorithms to successfully manage these new platforms. Concerns that staff will be displaced are already an issue raised. And as other eagerly integrated innovations have revealed, students will not always adopt new technology unless there is a real benefit

“AI in education is not inevitable — but it’s necessary,” says Satya Nitta, director of education and cognitive sciences at IBM.


Need for a conventional university degree has reduced, meaning there is currently a real focus on alternative “micro” credentials. These courses are not part of degrees and instead deliver specific knowledge and skills in fields like information science where there is a scarcity of skill. The cost is significantly lower than that of an MBA and by taking multiple courses a personalised academic experience can be created.

With more companies recognising online education credentials, and professionals switching across employers and careers more regularly combined with the higher participation of startup events, anticipate the trend to grow rapidly. People will have to continuously re-skill, claims Anant Agarwal, CEO edX, an online educational platform. “This is the age of continuous learning,” he says. “Even when you own a master’s degree, education does not stop there.”

Combined Learning

In 2012, when Moocs initially expanded, they were considered a threat to on-campus learning. However, in recent years universities have started mixing ‘bricks and clicks’. Many prestigious schools of business now operate well regarded “combined” versions of their MBA degrees that integrate both remote online lessons and in person evaluations. Approaching things this way has allowed educational institutions to maintain intimate environments where students can network with a chemistry tutor for example, while still offering flexibility.

In fact, the majority of universities are integrating tech into actual classrooms to improve educational outcomes. Technology will repeatedly alter how educators communicate with students and deliver knowledge. Course instructors are pushing for students to be familiar with content before lessons so that they are instead places for debate about key ideas and conflicting theories.

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