If e-learning came to life as a method to augment face-to-face learning, it is now an approach to education that is bigger than the traditional method it was meant to support.

The world of education has adopted digital learning as a reliable way of delivering instruction, assessing student progress and supporting better academic outcomes. More students today are enrolled in virtual classrooms and take online or blended classes, create online assignments and get their grades in an online gradebook, to finally earn a degree online. Educators enjoy the new means of connecting with their students, create more engaging learning materials and being able to personalize their instruction.

Learning and teaching through an online medium has become very popular over the last years and there are no signs of slowing down. With that in mind, it’s important to keep an eye on the myriad of digital education trends that are currently shaping up the industry.

Top e-learning trends to keep an eye on in 2020

Edtech is developing at incredible rates, so educators need to be on a constant lookout for the current developments in order to create better learning environments for their students. Here are a few e-learning trends to keep an eye on in 2020:

Video learning

Video learning is not a particularly new trend, but it is trendy nonetheless. Video is visually appealing, more engaging and interactive.

Video content is loved by students and always the preferred method of getting new information over the content heavy written form. They can watch a video at their own pace and most importantly they can watch it how many times is necessary until they understand the concepts being taught — without keeping the rest of the class in one place or waiting for others to catch up.

Teachers are finding it easier than ever to create video content for their lessons, recording their knowledge in a modern format and making it available at any time of the day. They have plenty of online tools at their disposal, some of them even free, to support their teaching activities, from lectures to providing feedback to students. Flipping the classroom has neve been easier.

What’s more, the adoption of interactive videos is creating rippling effects in the e-learning industry. Interactive videos shift the student from being a passive receiver of information to being active and involved in the learning process through video. This helps with holding the learner’s attention longer and increasing retention rates.


Read more: The impact of interactive videos in the classroom


Game-based learning

Leveraging gamification and game-based learning is also not new; it’s probably one of the oldest trends actually. But despite maintaining an upward trajectory, it seems to be growing still. It has overcome the buzzword status to develop into an actual pillar of e-learning.

Gamification facilitates learning and entertainment at the same time by using game mechanics like gathering points, getting badges, being on the leaderboard or getting a trophy. This drives learner engagement, boosts retention rates and reduces the course dropout rates.


Read more: 3 Gamification principles for a gamified learning environment


Educational institutions of all types and sizes are making use of gamification to create intangible incentives that drive successful learning results. Overall, gamified learning courses make the content more appealing to each learner, boost their motivation and simplify the learning process. Last but not least, game-based learning helps foster an emotional and intensive learning experience. Which brings us to…

Social and emotional learning

Collaboration is an important part of the learning process, as we humans are social creatures. Students learn from their teachers but they also learn from their peers. They learn in social settings, through forums, chats, screen sharing, messaging apps and other ways of online social gatherings and collaborate with their peers at the point of need regarding any problems they encounter in their learning journey. And they bring their emotions with them at every step of the way.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is becoming increasingly important in the educational environment, as it encourages students to better identify, understand and control their emotions, and to develop healthier, more productive communication skills. With that come better academic performance, improved attitude towards learning and teachers and deeper commitment towards classroom activities and school.


Read more: Can EdTech enable Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?


According to a Casel report about how social and emotional learning can transform schools, 97% of principals believe teaching social and emotional learning skills can improve student behavior. With that in mind, it’s clear that SEL is gaining more ground and is here to stay.

Immersive learning

In a world of constant interruptions and dwindling attention spans, students need something more from their learning environments: to be immersive. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) come to support educators in providing highly immersive learning experiences for their students.

AR augments existing learning material through intriguing images and graphics. The core aim is to deliver a truly immersive learning experience that thrills and engages learners.


Read more: 3 Benefits of using Augmented Reality in education


VR provides a rich immersive experience taking the theoretical part of learning into experiencing it, thus helping students understand complex concepts that are otherwise hard to grasp or are even dangerous. VR eliminates distractions completely through its gear.


Read more: 5 Benefits of including VR in classroom activities


MR takes VR a step further, as it introduces elements of AR in the learning environment. AR adds digital layers of information on top of the physical world. With MR, learners are able to view and interact with virtual objects that appear in the real world.

High prices and high maintenance have prevented these technologies to be included widely in immersive learning strategies, but as costs lower and the user experience becomes smoother, AR, VR and MR can become mainstream in e-learning.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in e-learning

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to become the best teaching assistant; it can assist teachers with planning courses, delivering adaptive learning, supporting students, assessing papers and so on.

AI enables fast data analysis and decision making in learning. AI-powered models use algorithms to collect learning and categorize it into strengths, weaknesses or proficiency. This data is then used to map out learner behavior and derive insights that streamline the creation of highly personalized and relevant learning paths for each student. This way, educators are provided crucial information that helps them make instruction more effective, while the learners can enjoy learning and make the most out of the process.

AI technology has taken off in the e-learning industry and it will continue to redefine the e-learning landscape in 2020 and beyond.

Wrapping up

And so ends our short list of trends to keep an eye on in the coming year. While we cannot precisely tell the direction that e-learning will take, these trends provide a hint of where the e-learning industry will travel in 2020.

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