What's hot in online education delivery methods, and why your organization can't ignore any of them.
Learners keep raising the bar on what they expect in terms of education. It seems anything can drive the need to expand and elevate what you offer them. It might be availability (can they take the course in the evenings or after hours?), or hardware (does it work on the iPad?) or collaboration (is there a social element that lets learners network with each other?).
Many industries still rely heavily on in-person training or consider "online" to be a PowerPoint presentation. They especially need to work even harder to meet those expectations. Here are the trends you need to follow to navigate the ever-changing world of training.
The "cloud" refers to the Internet in this instance. Cloud-based learning on a hosted LMS (learning management system) is a convenient and relatively low-cost way of delivering curricula to learners who want the ultimate in flexibility. Because courses are hosted online, learners can access the content 24/7 no matter where they are. Training that's delivered over the Internet and always available is an expectation among most learners, especially younger ones who have already experienced learning online as part of high school and/or college.
Anyone who has spent too many hours playing Candy Crush, or seen someone else glued to an X-Box, understands how games can grab your attention like nothing else. Savvy educators have noticed this too, and they've applied video game design elements to motivate learners. The theory is if something is fun, learners are engaged, and they'll learn better and retain those skills.
A course with game-based elements might include immediate feedback, rewards such as "badges," or increasing challenges.
Depending on the subject, off-the-shelf curriculum can be perfect. How many ways are there to screen someone for breast cancer, for example? While you don't need to reinvent the wheel for all topics, some localization is helpful. This might mean translating the course content into Spanish, or providing case studies that match demographics. This trend makes matching a course to your learners much easier.
More people are drifting away from their desktop computers in favor of their handhelds. This is driving the trend of more courses, or elements of the courses, to be available on mobile devices, and thus mobile learning, or m-learning. In practical terms, it means that the course should be visible when you're looking at it on your smartphone. It might also have features such as forum updates, or compatibility with social applications.
MOOCs (massive open online courses) are about the biggest--and most controversial--thing in learning now. MOOCs are cloud-based courses on the web that are widely open to an unlimited number of participants. Many of these courses are free, at least for students, or priced low.
Just as social media revolutionized the way people communicate with each other, social learning is a trend that may change the way people learn with each other. Social learning employs many of the same tools and technologies of social media and applies them to the digital classroom. This might include Twitter, blogs, wikis, YouTube and Facebook.