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Prediction: 2018 Will See More Blended Learning, Alternative Credentials and International Competition

Over the next year, the higher education segment can expect to see a major shift to blended learning; an innovative education stack from an existing institution to "rival" the bachelor's degree; and serious inroads to cross-border online learning. Those are the predictions for 2018 from Eduventures, a membership advisory service for colleges and universities.

The company said it expects a "regionally accredited four-year institution" to put together "a creative combination of pedagogy, experience, assessment and delivery mode" that will offer an alternative to the traditional undergraduate degree — but in a shorter amount of time and for less money. "This year, we expect a credential newcomer that will really shake things up," said Richard Garrett, Eduventures' chief research officer.

2018 will also be the year in which blended education comes to the forefront. According to company research, a majority of adults considering a turn at or return to college want a mix of online and campus learning for their college experiences. Since most online students live within 50 miles of their chosen institutions, it isn't out of the question, Eduventures suggested, for them to take advantage of proximity to physical campuses. As a result, the company predicted, "some ambitious institutions" will promote blended learning as primary offerings to their potential students.

Finally, online learning will begin ignoring borders to respond to "increased competition" from schools in other countries, get beyond the "anti-immigration rhetoric of the Trump administration," and address dampened enthusiasm for U.S. schools among international students. Currently, the count of international students enrolled in distance education can only go up: A recent report by the Babson Survey Research Group found that in fall 2016, only 45,475 students were attending U.S. institutions exclusively "at a distance" — up from 37,312 in the prior year. Eduventures researchers said that "key markets" such as Dubai and Hong Kong that have historically ignored cross-border distance learning are now beginning to warm up to it. And MOOCs have played their role by exposing international students to top-notch faculty from American universities. Eduventures expects both domestic and international students to gravitate to MOOC-style degrees from first-tier schools, such as the University of Illinois, which is promoting its iMBA online program as "from a stellar brand and for under $22k."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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