The incoming college freshman class next year was in kindergarten when the first iPhone came out. Social media has always existed in their world. They’re more than digital natives; they’re mobile-first and always connected, born floating in a sea of information. That environment has shaped the way they learn in unique and fundamental ways.
It makes sense, then, that education is evolving at a rapid pace, too. Higher learning institutions must adapt, and not just to the kids these days: They need to reach non-traditional students more effectively, too.
As the academic year draws to a close, we’re taking a look at the top five trends impacting higher education right now. Read on to learn more about the changing education landscape, and why you should care.
1. Increased Demand for Online Learning
The modern student does everything on their phone — including going to school. As technology continues to advance and online courses become more accessible across devices, digital learning continues to gain popularity. In fact, nearly half the students who enroll in higher education courses also enroll in online courses, which means competition for universities and colleges to offer online alternatives is steep.
Ninety-nine percent of school administrators say demand is increasing or staying the same, which has 40% planning to increase budgets to accommodate digital learning environments. If your school or department hasn’t begun offering online courses — especially in the healthcare and medical fields — it’s time to pick up the pace.
2. Healthcare and Medical Courses Growing Fastest
There are as many online courses available today as there are career interests among modern students. An infinite library of information exists online, but despite the vast selection, recent research found that healthcare remains the fastest-growing academic disciplines online — which makes sense, since healthcare occupations are growing much faster than all other occupations.
Students seeking employment in the healthcare and medical fields are turning to alternative learning opportunities to gain the skills necessary to compete for jobs in these industries.
3. “Stackable” Courses Lower Risk for Students
In the United States alone, enrollment in online courses has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years. Due largely in part to the increased cost of higher education, online programs offer students increased flexibility and a major reduction in cost. In fact, Coursera’s online master’s degree in computer and information technology from the University of Pennsylvania costs one-third of its on-campus equivalent. Who wouldn’t want to opt online?
Many online programs even allow students to “test” degrees by taking courses that can eventually be “stacked” into a degree, ultimately lowering student risk.
Other examples include MIT’s chain management degree, of which a portion of the curriculum is completed online before students enter the on-campus program. At Arizona State University, students take the first year online as part of the Global Freshman Academy, allowing students to complete a portion of their intended degree online, for a fraction of the cost.
4. Advanced Analytics Improve Course Outcomes
As in every industry, advanced analytics are helping optimize the way universities approach education to improve outcomes. Colleges rely on data and analytics now, more than ever before, as they begin modernizing and managing imperatives to show a consistent return on both student and state investments. Online course materials make collecting this data easier.
Collecting data from your online course dashboard should be easy. A couple attributes your online course materials vendor should have include:
- On-call analytic reports to help you assess students’ performance in real-time, track grades, and receive regular updates.
- LTI compatibility to ensure your course integrates into your learning management system, like Blackboard, D2L, or Moodle.
5. Online Program Managers Connect Universities with Nontraditional Students
Online Program Managers (OPM) help traditional universities build and maintain their online degree or program offerings, while adding flexibility for nontraditional learners. Nontraditional learners include commuters, parents, full-time workers, and others. Online programs give these students the opportunity to earn a degree without rearranging lifestyles too drastically.
One way OPMs can improve nontraditional students’ access to online courses is by integrating an online proctoring solution within the university’s CMS, giving instructors the ability to streamline the exam process, and non-traditional learners the ability to take tests at home.
What’s Next in Education?
We may not be able to predict the future, but we know one thing for certain: online education is here to stay. With advances in technology comes an increased demand for online learning, growth in the healthcare and medical learning space, stackable courses, advanced analytics, and more effective connections between traditional universities and nontraditional students.
Are you ready to step into the future and bring online healthcare and medical terminology courses to life at your university? Start your free trial today.