We have conducted a survey and asked 31 educational institutions about distance learning current trends and future of it. According to their opinion, answers, and current pandemic situation, we have concluded a few intellectual facts. In this article, we are going to discuss the important ones.
WHICH FORMS OF COMMUNICATION WILL BE USED IN DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FUTURE?
The responses from the survey participants revealed some clear trends in the forms of communication in distance learning. As expected, the exchange of information by letter is declining and will be almost entirely replaced by digital channels in the medium term. By far the most widely used communication option at the moment is classic e-mail. A somewhat surprising survey result was that the phone still plays a large role in the interaction between distance students and distance learning.
According to the experts’ answers, the online campus and other social networks will also play a greater role in the future. One of the StudyMind’s A-Level biology tutors (see details here) stated: “Online communication is clearly on the advance. More and more people are writing an email instead of a phone call, using our online campus or using a social network. This happens to the same extent that online media are becoming more and more present in everyday life – distance learning is no exception.”
DISTANCE LEARNING AND E-LEARNING
How will the educational formats mobile learning and e-learning develop in the next few years – will these formats become more relevant?
DEVELOPMENT OF MOBILE LEARNING AND E-LEARNING
Some distance learning schools were of the opinion that mobile devices or mobile learning will revolutionize the education market in the future. On the other hand, Mr.Shawn Franklin from the University of Florida said: “I think mobile learning is overrated. For sustainable learning success, a pleasant learning atmosphere is necessary, which the participant does not find reliable, but in his own four walls. Rather, the use of video tutoring and webinars will increase. The use of 3D glasses and virtual classrooms is an exciting approach. “
“I think mobile learning is overrated. A pleasant learning atmosphere is necessary for sustainable learning success.” Mr. Shawn Franklin added.
Despite all the new developments in mobile learning and e-learning, classic learning methods cannot be completely replaced. The tailor-made blended learning solutions that can be individually adapted to every distance learning program and every educational group will probably have a large share in the educational methods of the future. With such solutions, classic educational methods can be ideally combined with components of e-learning and mobile learning.
Mr. ElmarGonzalvesgave us a detailed answer to this question: “E-learning is already in use in many places today. After the initial hype has subsided, which suggested that e-learning would replace all other forms of learning in a very short time, a mix of methods (“blended learning”) is now emerging that uses e-learning elements in a targeted and metered manner where they are didactic are useful. Mobile learning is sure to become a big trend with the increasing use of tablet computers and smartphones. The challenge here – similar to e-learning – is not simply to transfer content 1: 1 from the printed matter, but to prepare it according to the possibilities of the devices and the context of mobile use.
WHICH E-LEARNING OFFERS ARE USED BY DISTANCE LEARNING SCHOOLS?
In 2021, the first place among the e-learning offers used by the distance learning schools were self-tests and web-based training after the lockdown is lifted. The distance learning schools surveyed want to continue to use these two formats in the future to the same extent as they were before. In the past year, many educational providers have also used learning tools and webinars to convey study content. However, the survey participants want to bring these two e-learning offers to a much greater extent in 2022.
One of the clearest trends in the survey was that in 2022 mobile learning apps are to become much more relevant in e-learning. This is intended to take account of the currently rapidly expanding market for mobile devices. Project management tools still only play an important role in special courses, including management.
CAN WEBINARS REPLACE FACE-TO-FACE TEACHING IN THE FUTURE OR JUST SUPPLEMENT IT IN A MEANINGFUL WAY?
All of the distance learning schools surveyed agreed on this topic. In many study programs, webinars can be a useful addition to face-to-face phases, but they cannot completely replace them. The examination phases in academic courses in particular will continue to be a domain of classic face-to-face teaching. Another aspect of webinars is that this format enables distance students to save a not inconsiderable part of the costs for travel and accommodation that they would otherwise have to pay for face-to-face seminars.
Mr.ElmarGonzalves further added: “Webinars can replace face-to-face seminars here and there and thus help to save travel and accommodation costs or reduce absences. However, not every interaction in the seminar can be transferred to an online platform, so that face-to-face seminars retain their authorization in many places. Exams will also remain a presence domain for the foreseeable future. Basically, direct personal contact does not only have disadvantages … “
DISTANCE SCHOOLS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
German distance learning schools are increasingly represented on the popular social media channels and use them to communicate with students and potential new customers. There are also clear trends among distance learning providers in communication via social networks.
SOCIAL MEDIA USE OF DISTANCE LEARNING SCHOOLS IN 2021 AND 2022
Facebook and YouTube were the front runners among the social media channels used in 2011 among the distance schools surveyed, with shares of 80% and 75% respectively. The communication platforms Twitter and Facebook followed a little behind with 60% and 50%, as well as internal blogs for remote schools with 50%. However, only one in five distance schools used social bookmarking and social news services in the past year.
The good social media resolutions of the distance learning schools should have a positive effect on social bookmarking and blogs in 2022. For example, 60% of distance learning schools want to use social news services more this year and every second distance school wants to establish more blogs as a social media channel. 80% and 75% of distance learning schools want to further expand the use of Facebook and YouTube.
WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS OFFER THE GREATEST DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL FOR DISTANCE SCHOOLS IN TERMS OF MARKETING MEASURES AND SERVICE OFFERS?
All the distance learning experts surveyed agreed that Facebook and YouTube are the two social media channels that are best suited for marketing measures and as a service offering for students and customers. Twitter and XING are also seen as alternatives for the marketing mix at distance schools, but are less used in service offers for distance students. The providers use blogs for both areas. Social bookmarking, on the other hand, is a rarely used alternative as a format for marketing measures and service offers.
DEVELOPMENTS AND TRENDS IN DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS
Correspondence courses in the fields of business administration and health care are particularly in demand after the lockdown is lifted. The responses from the relevant distance learning schools to the relevant subject areas in 2022 revealed some clear trends overall. A significant increase in the number of participants is expected in the specialist areas of health care, psychology, sport, fitness & wellness as well as business administration and IT. The following graphic shows the percentage of departments which the surveyed distance learning schools consider to be particularly relevant in 2022.
Distance learning courses in the field of business administration have been long-running in the range of many distance learning schools for years. This development could be due to the fact that a certain basic business understanding is now required in many areas, or is indispensable for a higher or managerial position in many industries and companies. Many experienced skilled workers, self-employed and young professionals therefore opt for a further and part-time business administration distance learning course.
Health care and psychology
The urgently needed reforms in the health care system are also leaving their mark on the educational landscape. For example, modern correspondence courses for health advisors or health educators have established themselves in the health sector. In the department of psychology, among other things, significantly more correspondence courses in industrial psychology and business psychology are offered in order to meet the constantly increasing need for psychological specialists in these niche areas.
Information technology and networks
The information technology and computer sector is a specialist area in which changes and innovations occur with particularly high frequency. This is why part-time distance learning in this field is also a very popular educational alternative. In 2012, for example, correspondence courses for the specialist areas of social media, cloud computing and media informatics are in demand because these specialist areas show particularly high growth.
Sport, fitness and wellness
If you want to stay healthy and active into old age, you need initiative. Therefore, activities related to sport and wellness are very popular in all classes of the population. In order to meet the increasing demand for fitness offers, qualified mentors are urgently needed. Many interested parties therefore opt for part-time distance learning in the field of sport, fitness and wellness.
Economy and management
In the European economic systems, some structures are in transition. Continuous education is required to keep up with globalization and constantly changing standards. New psychological and marketing-oriented methods are finding their way into management, for which one can now also qualify via distance learning. As a result of these developments, many new correspondence courses will be offered in 2012 for the subjects of economics and management.
CONCLUSION: WHAT IS THE OPINION OF FERNSTUDIUM DIREKT AND THE SURVEYED DISTANCE LEARNING EXPERTS ON DEVELOPMENTS AND TRENDS IN THE DISTANCE LEARNING SECTOR?
One conclusion can be drawn from this survey in any case: The educational alternative of distance learning will continue to gain in importance in the future and open up to all new educational formats. The prerequisite for this, however, is not to adopt new methods without reflection, but rather to integrate them sensibly and individually into the existing mix of learning media. Social networks also continue to play an important role in distance learning; social bookmarking, among other things, will gain greater relevance in the future. Distance learning in connection with classic study methods will therefore continue to have a particularly important position in in-service training in the future. Due to the greatly changed habits of users of online media and mobile devices, developments in distance learning will not stand still. The distance learning schools try to optimize distance learning in an ongoing process in such a way that smaller-scale learning formats and an ever larger mix of methods enable distance learning that can be individually adapted to the personal requirements of the distance student.