biggest online learning trends

The 10 biggest online learning trends of 2015

Figuring out what works in education right now is tough. Identifying key trends and figuring out what online learning and other aspects of education will look like next year is downright impossible. That being said, it can’t hurt to take a guess based on what we’ve seen thus far. After all, understanding how online education, MOOCs, and learning management systems evolve is key to making informed decisions.

One of the more interesting things to understand: online learning is expanding and it’s going to be important to figure out how to accurately and efficiently process all the information. For instance, how do you grade a test that 400,000 online students just took? That’s a long weekend of work!

Instead, we look to ‘big data’ (the first trend to know about as illustrated below) and cloud computing as a way to crunch those numbers. Look for education-oriented cloud computing solutions to pop up. So, if you’re looking for a few education startup ideas and want to scratch that entrepreneurial itch, then perhaps something in cloud-based online learning tools is a good idea to consider. I’m part of a group that helps out education startups so reach out if you need any advice!

The 10 biggest online learning trends of 2015

  1. Big data – we need a better way to crunch the numbers and identify what’s working in online education. Big data / cloud computing could unlock this discovery process. Look for more edtech startups to tackle this in the coming year(s).
  2. Gamification – Making learning as much fun as playing a game is nothing new to those in education. But look for gamification and even project-based learning to play a larger role in online education.
  3. Personalized learning – This may sound difficult when it comes to online colleges and online schools in general but make no mistake – the influx of video-based synchronous virtual learning environments (say that ten times fast!) means 1-on-1 tutoring and personalized learning is going to become more of a reality than pipe-dream.
  4. Mobile learning – There’s an app for that. You can already learn languages, web design, and a whole lot more on your smartphone. Time to bring online education into the mobile generation.
  5. Focus on return-on-investment – There are many startups and companies that jumped on the MOOC and online education bandwagon over the past few years. They lost a lot of money doing this and are now looking to monetize. This is being done through offering certificates, nanodegrees, and badges. Look for investors to start asking to be shown the money (say that like they did in Jerry Maguire).
  6. APIs – An application programming interface lets your app or website leverage the power of another service. Simply put, your app could pull in a series of online courses from edX, Coursera, and other providers all in one easy-to-use system. That’s all because of the power of APIs. Time to learn how to code if you want to understand this concept or keep a closer eye on this trend!
  7. Automation – This goes along with the top trend of big data. Look for your learning management system to have a more automated approach for those courses that have the ultra-high number of students. Auto-grading, ahoy!
  8. Augmented learning – Also called adaptive learning, this is the learning process where the lesson essentially adapts to the learner. In other words, your app will see that you’re struggling with a particular concept and add in other ways to help you understand that concept.
  9. Corporate MOOCs – This is actually one of the specialties of Evil Ventures, a consulting firm that I’m a part of. We help organizations large and small who want to do high-end corporate training that will help get the entire workforce on the same page. Want to help boost the level of understanding across the board, a LOOC – little open online course – might be a great place to start.
  10. Cloud LMS – The learning management systems are not going away anytime soon based on the recent growth in this industry. There are a lot of great LMS options out there that we’ve outline. Look for more of them to go fully online using cloud computing so you can access your course content anywhere.


Written by Jeff Dunn

Jeff is an education and technology lover who has worked in far too many industries to count. Okay, like maybe 5 or 6. Jeff can indeed count that high but it’s not recommended. Jeff also likes to write bios in the third-person.

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