Distance education is by no means a new thing.
More and more people opt taking an online course than being in a crowded classroom. The benefits are endless and distance education continuously evolves to offer “more” to its students.
But, what are some of the reasons why distance education continues to rise and overwhelm the traditional learning environment?
1. Increasing Number of Students
The benefits of distance learning for students range from financial ( courses and studies are usually cheaper and more affordable since there are fewer resources needed by the university) to practical (you do not have to travel far distances in order to get classes and easier balancing of work, studies, and family) and personal (improves certain skills such as time management).
It also opens up various opportunities for learning students who may not have the ability to attend traditional schools and study. Also, it helps those living in rural areas, those with limited financial sources and those with disabilities.
Because of such benefits, more and more students enroll in distance learning courses.
As a matter of fact, the latest statistics about online learning in the United States reveal that enrolment has increased by about 5 percent between 2015 and 2016, compared t the last 3 years.
In total, there are over 6.3 million students in the United States that took at least one online course in 2016.
Such high demand pushes distance education to improve more in order to further accommodate student needs as well as enticing others to enroll in online courses.
2. Universities Continuously Improve
Because of the huge demand for distance learning, more and more reputable universities such as Harvard join the bandwagon and offers their own online courses.
Providing various methods and techniques in order to further improve distance education and increasing satisfaction of students, universities create their own outline and teaching approaches that ultimately shape the future of distance education.
3. Professional Students
One of the benefits of distance learning is its flexibility. People can continue their professional work and earning while they study for a higher education. This only means that there are students of distance learning who are already professionals.
And in order to match professional personas, teachers of online courses also need to improve and continuously look for a way to be “more” expert on the courses they teach and undergo special training on the current technologies that are shaping the distance learning industry.
4. Rise of Technology
We are living in an era where technology continuously grows and produce top-of-the-line gadgets and devices that provide better convenience for all of us! And because of the seemingly endless evolution of tech, distance education also continues to improve and brings better and enhanced learning courses.
Here are some of the latest technological advancement that is now making their way to the distance education sphere.
a. Artificial Intelligence
In 2016, Artificial Intelligence or AI was the most hyped tech to enter the digital world. And what was once a tech for robotics, AI is also becoming more popular in the distance education space. AI combines the excellent processing powers of computers and machines and the reasoning abilities of the mind. Already used to power products such as Siri from Apple and Alexa of Amazon, AI is making a huge leap to the education industry, thanks to the falling cost of apps and making it possible for tutors and faculties to add them to online courses.
b. AR/VR Tech
AR or augmented reality combines computer-generated data with the natural sense of viewers while VR or virtual reality generates a simulated immersive environment. The AR/VR tech is quite popular in the gaming industry, however, they are now also making an entrance in the online learning space as distance education providers recognize these tech’s strong potential in order to give more in-depth and tailored courses.
Utilizing VR or AR, a tutor can now engage with his or her students more deeply while also building more interactive environment which stimulates the imagination of students and encouraging deeper learning.
Using games to educate is not new— just take a look at classic kindergarten classrooms where kids are given games for their lessons in order to completely understand the topics.
And with online learning, the possibilities of games to improving it is endless! Gaming boosts information retention and user engagement because it gives students a break from the stress of traditional learning.
Also, just like in kindergarten, games are used to explain difficult concepts as well as teaching knowledge to students in fun and less formal method.