As the end of 2014 quickly approaches, we are left to reflect on how far the elearning industry has advanced in the past year.
Just like the year before, new advancements in technology have opened up new doors with online learning initiatives. MOOCs are still here (no surprise), Tin Can API is gaining in adoption, and new platforms (such as WordPress) are being leveraged for online course creation.
The industry certainly is carrying momentum – so what does it have in store for next year?
Below are a few of my predictions on what we can expect.
MOOCs Forced to Grow Up
For the past few years there has been considerable excitement about MOOCs, with Coursera clearly being one of the most recognizable. Investors are doubling-down on MOOCs as well, pumping more money into them (Coursera alone has raised $85 million in four rounds). Funny thing is, we are yet to really understand how these investors will get their return.
And that’s what leads to my prediction in 2015. Next year, MOOCs will be forced to evolve – perhaps more towards the end of the year. Investors are going to want to have a better idea of how to recoup their investment, and part of that includes monetizing the service in some capacity.
Looking past the money component, I can see the MOOC user base demanding more from the platform. Currently MOOC completion rates are pretty dismal, and in many cases it includes nothing more than a poorly monitored forum with a few videos.
Truly interactive course experiences are a necessity moving forward. You need to look no further than what the folks at Codecademy are doing.
Mobile Learning Spike Begins
Mobile learning has been around in the mainstream for a few years now, but to date it really hasn’t experienced its spike. I believe that in 2015 we will start to see rise of this likely monumental peak.
There are a few reasons, but mainly the advancements in the technology (think smartphones and tablets), as well as the continued adoption of Tin Can API.
More people are turning to mobile devices to accomplish things that they once opened a computer to do. It only makes sense that people will be engage in learning activities using these same devices.
This isn’t to say that traditional elearning won’t have its place. It certainly will. There will just be more of an emphasis on cross-platform compatibility so that courses can be accessed no matter what device is used.
Major Universities Adopt Online Degree Programs
If you live in the United States, you are probably quite familiar with the online degree programs that are available. It seems like every other commercial on TV is in reference to earning a degree online.
This year in particular I have noticed that there is an even larger variety, way more than just ITT Tech and University of Phoenix. That said, these new entrants aren’t what I would call the most popular universities. Some are pretty obscure.
I think the bigger universities are playing the waiting game to see how these small players make out (spoiler alert: they will do well). In 2015, I think it is reasonable to expect bigger names to begin advertising their online degree programs.
Funny enough, this may somehow contribute to my first prediction regarding MOOCs. Perhaps some way weaving together some form of kickback to the MOOC platform for referring students to their programs.
Admittedly these are just three areas of the elearning industry. There are many different niches to keep an eye on, including the rapid elearning development market (I expect Captivate to come out with a big announcement next year) as well as the learning management space (more and more LMS services appear every day).
Whatever may happen, what has become abundantly clear is that the elearning industry is poised to continue its rise.