Two years ago, setting up group meetings was a huge pain point for many students. Somehow, to most people, the idea of meeting in person when the entire team lived far away from each other made a lot of sense. If a member could not make it due to scheduling conflict, the only logical solution was to simply meet without them.
A year and a half ago, everything changed. Suddenly, we had to work with classmates from the other side of the world while being stuck at home. Conference calls and group chats became the only way to communicate in classes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed higher education institutions to adapt quickly to remote learning. Besides healthcare, the traditional education industry was arguably in for the biggest shock. As most institutions return to in-person learning this fall, we are reflecting on 3 emerging trends in digital learning and collaboration that would continue to grow post-pandemic.
The pandemic sparked a renewed interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs) as more people turn to these classes for higher education. MOOCs are open to anyone with digital access, teaching a wide variety of professional skills from graphic designing to coding.
Due to its accessibility, MOOCs are gaining more traction as an alternative means of strengthening skills or discovering a new career path. Udemy, a MOOC provider, reported a 425% increase in enrollments from February to March 2020. As users become more proficient with online learning, these platforms will continue to grow in popularity and potentially compete with university courses.
Zoom fatigue is real, and hour-long lectures or videos can no longer catch the attention of students. Educators now face a difficult challenge: find new ways to keep their classes interactive and help students develop soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and verbal communication along the way.
In response to this trend, gamification, virtual reality, simulation programs, and artificial intelligence will witness exponential growth in classrooms in the upcoming years. For example, gamification in the education market is expected to value at $1.8B by 2023, up from $450M in 2018, according to CB Insights. The idea of in-class activities will no longer be reduced to YouTube videos or Kahoot games, as students and instructors become more comfortable with using new technology to creatively interact in the classroom.
Classes have expanded beyond the four walls of traditional classrooms — educators and students can now enjoy the flexibility of both in-person and digital learning methods. This flexibility, however, requires reliable and comprehensive collaboration technologies.
Educators must be able to move fluidly between in-person and remote teaching to stay productive. A holistic collaboration platform will be an essential tool for instructors to communicate to students effectively and troubleshoot issues without relying on last-minute peer evaluations. Since students will continue to utilize online tools for group work, it is only a matter of time before integrated collaboration platforms go from a nice-to-have to a fundamental part of learning and teaching.
The ed-tech industry shows no signs of slowing down, and the highlighted trends indicate an exciting future for education. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare how ill-prepared most institutions were for remote learning. The biggest lesson we all learned from last year is here to stay: virtual learning should be an integral part of your classroom, and it is no longer sustainable for schools and educators to ignore its role in education.