Contact North recently published a 2 part series on the future of online learning (also available in a combined PDF). Part 1 is Advancing Technology and Online Learning – An Ideal Match for the Future. Part 2 is Transformations in Students, Programs, Teaching and Learning, Policy and Government.
PART 1: Advancing Technology and Online Learning
Technology Developments in Support of Learning
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence will increasingly be used to enable adaptive learning.
- Hand-held, mobile and integrated devices will continue to develop and become the de facto tools for learning, communication and peer networking.
- Predictive analytics will grow in significance in terms of student retention and learner support.
- Interconnectivity of devices and systems will be a significant feature of the “Internet of things” and activities.
- Gamification and virtual reality will enable significant advances in teaching a range of subjects, especially laboratory-based subjects.
- Translation engines will continuously improve and become embedded in a great many applications (but still a long way away from “instant” translators).
- Collaborative technologies and knowledge sharing will emerge as key resources for all forms of learning.
Five Key Features of Online Learning Which Technology Patterns Will Enable
- Learning is Mobile – Anywhere and Anytime
- Learning is Interactive and Engaging
- Learning is Personal and Instruction is Differentiated
- Learning is Intelligent
- Learning is Global
Institutional Context for The Development of Online Learning
- Institutions are Complex and Competitive
- Resources are Constrained
- Demographic Shifts Impact Activity
- Quality Is an Imperative
- Change Is Inevitable, but Difficult for Colleges and Universities
- Relevance and Value Shape Strategy
Student Demand WILL CONTINUE TO GROW AND CHANGE
- More mature students looking for flexible learning options. This in turn requires programs to provide varied routes to completion.
- More international students seeking credential recognition and completion in other countries. This gives emphasis to transfer credits, international credit recognition and recognition of prior learning.
- More students seeking knowledge combined with employable skills. This speaks to the need for more collaborative programs between colleges and universities and more joint credentials.
- More students seeking shorter programs, which are skill-based and work-ready, means that the demand for micro-credit, nano-degrees and badges will grow.
PART 2: Transformations
Programs Will Look Very Different
- More flexible program designs.
- More use of open educational resources
- More creative assessment processes (both formative and summative)
- More micro-credit and nano-degrees
- More co-op and experiential components within programs
- More international collaborative programs
- More transfer and qualification recognition agreements between nations
- Blurring of lines between college and university
Teaching and Learning Will Change
- Learning will no longer be defined by time, place or institutional offerings.
- Learners will create their own learning agendas, which reflect their own career, personal and lifelong learning goals.
- Learners will secure their learning outcomes through a combination of formal, informal, self-directed, instructor delivered, in class and online learning.
- Learners will expect personalized learning services and supports for their learning agenda.
- New mechanisms for meeting personal learning agendas will appear in the market as the “unbundling” of learning continues.
- Courses will be less important than mentoring, coaching, counselling, advising and assessment.
- Diverse and new forms of credentials will appear, which reflect the varied needs of learners, employers, social agencies, innovation organizations and entrepreneurs.
Policy and Government
- Significant Changes in the Way in Which Higher Education Is Funded
- Strong Focus on Quality Assurance, with a New Understanding of Quality
- Commitment to Learner Mobility
- More Public – Private Partnerships
- A Strong Focus on Outcome Based Accountability and Public Assurance
What Do Colleges and Universities Need to Do?
- Start engaging in strategic foresight as the basis of strategic planning.
- See students as partners, not customers.
- Rethink the Role of Faculty.
- Rethink outcomes and impacts and re-imagine assessments and accountability.
- Build collaborations (local, provincial, national and international) and partnerships.
Stephen Downes has provided a very useful critique of the articles and his thoughts on the future, also linked, in part, to the current #NRC01PL Personal Learning MOOC.
- Contact North (2016) A 2016 Look at the Future of Online Learning – Part 1. http://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/exploring-future-education/2016-look-future-online-learning-part-1
- Contact North (2016) A 2016 Look at the Future of Online Learning – Part 2. http://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/exploring-future-education/2016-look-future-online-learning-part-2
- Stephen Downes (2016) The 2016 Look at the Future of Online Learning. http://halfanhour.blogspot.com.es/2016/03/the-2016-look-at-future-of-online.html