What Percentage Attend An Online Learning Environment

A recent United Nations report identified the need for 6 billion new skills to be developed worldwide by 2030. In response, a multitude of educational organizations have been producing online learning environments that not only increase participation but help deepen skills, confidence, and retention.

American students will now be able to take classes remotely through their smartphones or laptops, but what does it mean for the future of online learning?

Over 2.6 million students took a course online in 2013. According to a study by Andres G. Fleischmann and Michael J. Na, “a decrease in the return on the investment of online learners likely related to a corresponding decrease in their engagement levels, and therefore the result of reduced growth.”

The early days of online education have already changed our view of learning across the industry. While it has always been about accountability and career skills, it has also been about – and will continue to be about – delivering an experience in an immersive and flexible format that provides students with everything they need to succeed in the modern workplace. This is not just about global brands reaching the students they need most, it’s about offering programs that can fit within their life, family, work, and education schedule.

It’s no secret that Americans are still the most busy people on earth. The average American adult works between 51 and 54 hours a week according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, yet many still find the time to work on their study load. But the pressure cooker of life, coupled with the reality that students now need to earn a living and have job prospects to make it, is breaking many traditional demographics. Traditional models of higher education that offered programs online and a flat price that worked around part-time work schedules, that consumed time of time and money of post-graduates simply doesn’t meet these students’ needs.

While 15-year-olds now generate a quarter of the searches on Google with the last thing they want is to be stifled into a one-size-fits-all education system that provides them with fake facts, just to fit in with an exam and meet social expectations, younger generations want access to self-paced and personalized learning experiences. The content is designed to work around who they are and it’s technology based to reduce stress for the instructor, students, parents, and anyone else concerned about the accessibility of online learning.

So how do we know that the higher-ed institutions that are learning the most in this area are following the model of changing their learning strategies to deliver personalized learning? Much like this younger generation, college and university education has to adapt to meet the changing needs of students in a way that works for them and the education they need, and it’s working well.

Though only 6.2 percent of institutions that reported offering an online degree-seeking program in 2013 relied heavily on a web-based course, nearly two-thirds were expected to at least consider a change in course format by 2015.

Digital learning environments offer much more than just online learning. They also offer flexibility, which can enhance student engagement, and a variety of social features to bring friends and support back into the learning experience. Most degrees offer online communication features, homework assignments and assignments are automatically graded online so students can work at their own pace, and guided learning is available to each student based on their individual needs. By providing information and exercises that support the development of a variety of goals, it’s harder for students to fall behind or not take a class.

Professor Paul Ngai of the Toronto Institute of Technology shows in his class “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Disrupting Human Employment Structure” that employing an active learning environment is an opportunity to create an immersive experience that caters to the concerns of every student’s individual needs. Instead of viewing personalized learning as a question of convenience, we need to make sure it’s more than a convenient one. This includes developing courses, not just MOOCs, but actual, immersive, relevant learning experiences that fit the dynamic reality of today’s students.

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