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Woo hoo! New year, and lots of new ways to deliver online learning. The EdTech space changed a lot in the last year, and there’s a lot of ways we can learn from it to make the most out of our teaching going forward. In fact, Thinkific even went ahead and piled some of these insights into a sweet little document. Check out the 2023 E-Learning Trends Report for the full scoop!

In the meantime, let’s break down a few other teacher-specific things you might want to be in the loop on for 2023!

Skip ahead:

7 online learning trends to keep an eye on this year

  1. Learning in smaller doses
  2. Monetizing content
  3. Gamification in lessons
  4. Continuing to embrace the hybrid approach
  5. Leveraging mobile applications
  6. Using alternative technology formats
  7. More detailed learning analytics are becoming available

How do you get started delivering online learning?

Watch or read on to learn about the top trends this year:

7 online learning trends to keep an eye on this year

  1. Learning in smaller doses

The trend of microlearning is growing to become a favourite for a lot of learners. Microlearning is the approach of breaking down complex lessons and topics (ie. What is quantum physics?) into smaller, more digestible topics. Each microlesson has a niche topic that it will focus on, and will have shorter assessments or homework pieces to complete. 

Microlearning is a great approach for a lot of reasons. First, it helps keep your student’s attention – especially if you’re dealing with young students (we see you, elementary teachers!) It also makes students more in control of the lesson’s path.

When microlearning is offered in online learning formats, it lets students get an overview of all the subtopics within the greater concept. They can pick and choose which to do first, based on their interests or prior knowledge. And for teachers, it makes narrowing down learning obstacles much easier! For example, if your class gets stuck on a concept, you can quickly identify which area they’re having trouble with as it’s not jumbled in with a lot of other topics. So then you are able to make a quick decision about staying on the current topic or moving on.

Alongside the trend of microlearning is the rise in microcredentials. These are short courses that allow students to get certificates quickly. This is great for high school and university students who want to showcase proof of their ability in a given skill without having actual work experience under their belt yet.

  1. Monetizing content

As a teacher, it might feel like your primary goal is to create endless amounts of content, use it once, and never use it again. Feel like this is you? It doesn’t have to be. 

Monetizing your expertise has become super popular in the last few years, and will continue to be in years going forward. This is especially true as we lean towards more uncertain markets and the importance of diversifying your income is rising. Even business professionals, self-made entrepreneurs, and life coaches have taken the reins on earning revenue from their knowledge. And it’s time teachers did too! 

By 2026, the eLearning industry is expected to be worth over $460 billion, proving there’s a lot of room for new content monetizers to join the trend. To start making revenue from work you’re already doing, consider uploading paid content resources such as worksheets, printed puzzles related to lesson topics, and “bonus” resource guides that take a more advanced approach at the topic. You might even consider selling practice quizzes too! As you build content, consider creating pieces that have a niche focus and specific learning age so that you’re more likely to reach your target audience. 

  1. Gamification in lessons

I think we all know by now that it’s hard to pay attention to a long, boring, highly-not-at-all engaging Zoom call. And this is especially true if you’re working with kids or anyone else with short attention spans. But what does spark engagement? Games! 

Consider mixing more quizzes, interactive games, and breakout sessions into your lesson plans. A lot of online learning platforms already support gamification tools to seamlessly add them into your lesson plan and analytics. Thinkific, for example, has an App Store built into their platform to let you choose from a large selection of course-boosting tools.

Gamification can also happen asynchronously. For students that aren’t working in a live class setting, you can establish “game rules” so that your students earn points for every video, quiz, or lesson topic they complete. You can assign more points to more challenging topics and even add in prizes for a bit of fun!

  1. Continuing to embrace the hybrid approach

A lot of schools are still unsure of how they’re going to fully commit to learning going forward. This is true across all levels of education, from elementary to university grad school. It might feel stressful or even a little bit daunting to not have this totally figured out yet. Luckily, online learning platforms are trending towards more features that accommodate the hybrid approach. For example, Thinkific’s platform allows students to view content asynchronously, attend live classes via Zoom, or access a post-class recording! This makes it great if you have both in-class and online students who can now engage together, ask questions to be heard at the same time, and be able to take in lessons at their pace. 

  1. Leveraging mobile applications

Mobile learning platforms are going to grow in popularity over the next year. As classrooms still wobble between online and virtual models, it’s totally likely that students will need ultra-portable learning technology. And with mobile phones being almost the epitome of portable and able-to-help-you-learn, there’s a good justification for why we see this becoming more popular!

Teachers that support online learning classrooms should consider using apps and course content that is mobile-optimized. Important things to look out for here are things like videos, quizzes, and downloadable content. On phones, this type of interactive media can be more difficult to access if you don’t have a mobile-optimized platform. 

According to Thinkific’s 2023 Digital Learning Trends Report, Over 60% of people learn new things from content on TikTok, YouTube or Instagram. This means that teachers might even want to consider social media as a way to educate beyond the classroom. Getting involved with modern solutions to spread knowledge can help younger, and more tech-savvy generations feel included and motivated in their learning development journey.

  1. Using alternative technology formats

Alternative technology formats, like assistive and adaptive technology, can integrate into virtual learning environments to help students with learning delays or disabilities learn more productively. For example, it can help to tune out background noise for students who are easily overstimulated. Assistive technologies can also read text out loud phonetically to help with reading development, or slow down words to make it easier to process information.

Additional supportive technologies can also help all students experience situations that they may not otherwise have had the chance to! For example, students in rural areas can tune into a virtual classroom, connected to a virtual reality headset that they have at home or in their local school. From there, teachers can program the headsets to show real-life worksites, farms, nature preserves, and historical landmarks – all kinds of virtual “field trips” to give kids a new perspective, all while avoiding the actual travel component. 

  1. More detailed learning analytics are becoming available

Online learning applications are becoming a lot more optimized and with a much broader feature set. Having more detailed analytics is a big focus here! For teachers, this is helpful to use when understanding how your students are handling online course content.

Learning analytics data can help you see basic metrics like grades and percent completion. But it can also tell you if students are lingering on one subject a bit longer than hoped for (which signals to you that this topic in particular was a bit harder to digest). It can also help you see if students went back to take a second run at a certain topic, giving you an opportunity to investigate and see if the students were just really interested, or if they didn’t understand. Overall, you’re going to start getting a lot more insights on how your classes are doing, even when you can’t be in-person to monitor the little details. 

How do you get started delivering online learning?

Good question! Luckily, a lot of these trends are supported by online learning platforms, meaning that as long as you can start using them this year, you’re able to benefit from them even more so. Consider doing some research into a learning platform that’s going to allow you to create courses, monitor your students’ progress, upload interactive course content, and even let you monetize.

Platforms like Thinkific offer a free trial, if you’re unsure how an online learning platform will work for you. If you’re working with a school, see if they already leverage a platform that you can get training on and then put some resources into. 

From there, consider experimenting with different types of content to see what resonates best with your students. Stay in close contact with them to get feedback on a regular basis. This feedback will be critical in ensuring your course develops into something practical and valuable for their online learning goals. 

And finally, don’t forget to read the full report on everything about the future of online learning trends for 2023!