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Top 7 Trends in Digital Learning Innovation

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A new study from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and Every Learner Everywhere outlines seven primary trends in digital learning innovation as well as four secondary trends worth watching. The report, produced in association with the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA), is the result of an environmental scan of published research reviewing how emerging learning technologies are being applied in the field and exploring their potential impact of student success.

"OLC, together with Every Learner and DETA, undertook this scan to help identify and understand innovations in the digital education landscape," explained Jennifer Mathes, interim CEO of OLC, in a statement. "Our ultimate goal is to pinpoint prominent innovations that have the potential to improve student outcomes in postsecondary education."

Researchers defined digital learning innovations as "technologies or ideas that improve access, equity and learning." The scan incorporated peer-reviewed journals, popular news and media coverage and other articles and documents, as well as an analysis of initiatives that have earned OLC Digital Learning Innovation Awards.

The top trends identified by the scan were:

  • Adaptive learning;
  • Open educational resources;
  • Gamification and game-based learning;
  • Massive open online courses,
  • LMS and interoperability;
  • Mobility and mobile devices; and
  • Design (the structuring of the learning environment and interactions).

Secondary trends (those that did not permeate the entire data set but were identified as themes for at least one data source) were:

  • Blended learning;
  • Dashboards;
  • Virtual reality; and
  • Artificial intelligence.

"With a better understanding of the technology and trends driving teaching, research and learning, institutions and faculty can prioritize the inclusion of these new innovations in current plans," noted Tanya Joosten, senior scientist and director of digital learning research and development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and co-director of DETA.

The full report, with detailed analyses of each trend, is available on the Every Learner site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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