2013 Trends in eLearning

Charlie Osborne over at SmartPlanet published his “Top 10 Predictions for Online Learning in 2013” back in January.

Photograph from the Microsoft Office Image Gallery

Photograph from the Microsoft Office Image Gallery

Here are some of my thoughts on three of his predictions…

1. Online learning will move to the center of university academics.

That really depends on infrastructure, accreditation, administrative commitment, and faculty buy-in. You need the servers and the bandwidth to handle students in a media-rich environment (my online courses include multiple videos, although I do host them outside of the LMS). You need a decent helpdesk. If you want to put more than a certain percentage of a degree program online, you need permission from the university system, the state board, and possibly your regional accreditor–these things take time. You need instructors who are trained not only to use the technology but also to feel confident in their use and to go about teaching in a different way. Online courses are flexible and convenient, but they also put a larger burden on students to remember to do work. Failure rates can be much higher, and in a legislative climate where course completions and graduation rates are all-important, some universities might shy away from completely online class offerings.

2. Hybrid learning will increase.

I certainly hope this is the case. Flipped classrooms work beautifully with online supplements, especially interactive videos or quick-check-for-understanding quizzes that must be completed before a f2f class session so instructors can gear activities towards weaknesses.

7. Tablet use will increase.

I’m teaching just one small f2f class this semester (plus two online and an independent study–woo!), and just today I noted that over half of the students had some kind of tablet device that they were using to access the homework PDF reading. This is something I need to keep in mind as I create materials, to make sure they are compatible with multiple devices. I don’t pull out my own iPad very much, primarily because it’s a heavy first-gen model, but I have used it and my Kindle to read literary passages while strolling around a classroom. What I don’t like about them is that it’s harder to get students on the same “page” quickly.

I’m already a fan of everything that the web can bring to education, so I’m hoping for some great new tools this year that help me see student engagement and keep them on track with completing their online courses.

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