Top useful online learning trends

In 2020, due to the pandemic, many areas of life were forced to go online. Education was no exception. But in Russia, the transition to online education has encountered several obstacles. The biggest one was the lack of quality e-learning tools. Many teachers and methodologists for the first time encountered the creation and design of electronic content in 2020. But unfortunately, they had no choice! That's why 2020 was the starting point for the mass creation of e-courses, long-reads, and other formats of electronic manuals in all fields of knowledge.
In this article, we have collected useful online learning trends that will stay with us for many years.
  • 1. Microlearning
    This trend has been actively introduced into online learning for several years. Microlearning is a way of presenting information in small blocks (modules), each of which focuses on a particular topic.

    Key principles of microlearning:
    • Short module duration (5-15 minutes)
    • One module – one main idea/skill
    • Each module has a test of mastering the material (most often – 3-5 test questions).
    Microlearning can be used as a standalone training format or in combination with other formats.
  • 2. Training with detailed feedback
    Online training, where students receive personal consultations, individual tasks, or detailed feedback on completed tasks, wins in all respects. High-quality feedback helps to identify weak points, if necessary, adjust a learning path and, ultimately, achieve a positive result.
  • 3. Grasping content without the fluff
    Users have a preference for instructional materials with grasping content that contains:
    • Comprehensible texts without the fluff
    • Good life examples
    • Pictures and diagrams explaining and supplementing texts
    • Understandable and clear tables and charts, etc.
  • 4. Individual learning paths
    Individuality in everything, even when it comes to learning. Different students initially have different amounts of knowledge on a topic, so online courses are especially popular, where a user can choose individual modules for training, thereby "building" a personal learning path.

    Sometimes a learning path is not set by a user directly but based on the results of input testing.
  • 5. Multiformat training
    Switching attention between different forms of presenting information has a positive effect on the quality of learning. Formats such as videos, online simulators, study guides, checklists, audio, and other support materials are excellent for online learning.
  • 6. Audio
    In today's rhythm of life, it's easier to find time on the way to school/work to listen to an audiobook than to read a book properly. Likewise with training. Part of the content can be put in audio format and allow you to listen to it at a convenient time.

    The following materials can be put into audio format: introductory part, the relevance of a problem, explanation of examples, summarizing topics, etc.
  • 7. Mobile learning
    According to statistics, users (students) under the age of 35 are more willing to devote time to online learning if there is an opportunity to learn from different devices: at home using a computer or on the way somewhere using a mobile device. But you should remember that learning using a mobile device is more suitable for developing soft skills.

    For mastering complex professions (e.g.: converter operator, furnace charge doser, etc.) corporate sectors and large educational organizations choose desktops when students consciously allocate time for learning, immerse themselves in the process, take notes, etc.
  • 8. Attention to the typography
    Properly formatted text is 80% of the success of any content. If a text is uncomfortable to read, everything else is meaningless. At best, a student will suffer but will force himself or herself to read (provided that the topic is vital to him or her). At worst, he or she will close it and never come back to it.

    Basic typography rules:
    • Choose readable fonts
    • Align a text to the left edge
    • Choose the correct interline spacing
    • Watch out for text contrast
    • Format lists the same way
  • 9. Application of the theory of generations (X, Y, Z)
    In the early 1990s, the American historian William Strauss and the economist Neil Howe developed the "theory of generations". The scientists have put forward the theory that people born at different times are different from each other. In particular, the peculiarities of the perception of information and assimilation of educational material differ. Currently, 3 generations are socially active: generation X (born 1964-1984), generation Y (born 1985-2003), and generation Z (born 2004-2023)

    Generation X (born 1964-1984)
    Representatives of this generation are easy to learn and have sufficient competence and experience. Their disadvantage: about 80% of representatives have difficulty with new technologies.

    The preferred form of study is full-time. If we talk about e-learning, they would prefer classic electronic manuals.

    Generation Y (born 1985-2003)
    They are easy to learn, have good computer skills, can give reasoned answers, and are accustomed to searching for information on their own. They do not have a generalized approach to gaining knowledge, with them, you can apply different approaches to learning: online courses in the format of "quest", webinars, computer simulators, and much more.

    Generation Y will prefer distance learning to full-time learning.

    Generation Z (born 2004 - 2023)
    They are the representatives of the modern digital world, and actively use the Internet and gadgets. They are used to having information available in one click. They switch attention quickly and don't concentrate well, but they absorb information well.

    When teaching representatives of Generation Z, one should:
    • Allow studying on a free schedule.
    • Use microlearning.
    • Include game techniques in training.
  • 10. Storytelling
    The trend that has been with us for the past 5 years, in 2020 received a new feature: the maximum approximation to real life. But first things first. Storytelling is a technique that helps to convey new material to students through an interesting story.

    Storytelling is actively used in teaching because a lively story that evokes emotion will be remembered better than a meager theory.

    The key idea of a story must be clear to an audience and revealed as a result of the narrative.

    Basic principles of storytelling:
    • Single storyline.
    • Main character.
    • Problems of the main character should be as realistic as possible. Try to avoid fictional topics, such as building a colony on Mars or chipmunk managers. Such stories do not inspire confidence and block the emotional perception of the story by students.
    • A story should evoke emotion in students.
  • 11. Gamification
    Gamification is the use for educational purposes of gaming approaches that are widely used in computer games: passing levels, upgrading skills, completing tasks, overall rating, and receiving awards for achievements (who is faster, who is better, etc.).

    In this context, the task of gamification is to involve students in a learning process.

    But don't use gamification for the sake of gamification. Simple ratings, and experience points, that do nothing for students and do not affect grades or certification in any way, will not work correctly and will not do their job.