5 Exciting Trends in Online Higher Education for 2017

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The internet has unlocked amazing doors of opportunity for the world, especially in means of making knowledge accessible for communities that were previously isolated. According to the research report by the Babson Survey Research Group, there were around 5.8 milion students who participated in some form of long distance learning in 2014. This figure is continuously rising and the true power of online education is yet to be recognized.

Interested in what lies ahead? Here are the top five trends in online higher education you should keep an eye on in 2017.

Nontraditional Credentials Are Gaining Momentum

As experts predict, the number of universities willing to collaborate with those creating online forms of learning is going to increase this year. Colleges are now more open towards granting the so-called “microcredientals” that students gain by finishing MOOCs or specific educational programs online. For instance, these partnerships could bring financial incentives to students (i.e. lower tuition fees) as they finish a part of the curriculum independently through virtual learning. In addition, the value of real and practical skills will be put in focus. If you take a look at the Executive Summary: The Future of Jobs, this makes perfect sense for young people who are just plunging into the job market and looking to elevate the soft skills that HR officers find valuable.

More Accredited University Programs Online

What was once an unachievable dream is today a reality pursued by many. In the past, working students found it hard to physically attend classes and hold their jobs simultaneously. In the 21st century, they can have their cake and eat it, too. There are many online university courses one can try out and these make a great option for students who need the luxury of learning on a more comfortable pace. Whether you’re looking for your Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s, or Master’s, the offer of online courses is diverse and in 2017, it’s going to get even bigger.

Big Data Will Level Up

Since online students can finish their courses without any supervision, the importance of real-time data for measuring and improving students’ performance will become a priority for faculties and course providers. Besides tracking the way students behave within a chosen online course, this implementation of technology innovations in education is significant because of the feedback. Creators of course curriculums can see when and how frequently do students log in and how they participate in the virtual classroom.

Increasing Number of Open Education Resources

Open Education Resources celebrate the concept of free knowledge accessible to anyone eager to learn. They gather various collections of teaching, learning, and research resources that have been legally cleared (i.e. that are under an intellectual property license that allows free usage or repurposing) or that are available on a public domain. Users can enjoy textbooks, tests, course materials, or entire modules – completely free of charge.

Online Degrees in Specialized Disciplines

In 2017, more specific disciplines will be available within online programs. In addition to the ever-popular courses that focus on data analytics and business in general, students can obtain an online degree in athletic training, science, fine arts, culinary management, veterinary technology, etc. Of course, before enrolling—students should first evaluate if this type of learning would suit them, and then check if they fulfill the needed requirements and investigate if the program is accredited.

Technology has transformed education as we know it and universities are adapting to the winds of change. Virtual learning has definitely opened up amazing possibilities for all those with an internet connection and a hunger for knowledge—what will you study?

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Jim Raychrudhury

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