5 Digital Learning Trends for 2021

February 25, 2021

2020 brought many changes to the digital learning landscape, including the widespread switch to distance education and the rise in the use of apps. So what’s on the horizon in 2021? Read on to learn about the 5 digital learning trends we’ve got our eyes on in the new year.

1. Video-Based Learning

Video-based learning will likely continue to be one of the most popular methods for delivering educational content. It’s not hard to see why: videos can be shared across many different platforms and devices, making them especially useful for school communities with a wide range of technology access. Videos can also help teachers redirect class time toward more interactive learning. For example, a teacher could assign a video to teach one foundational concept then spend classroom time on answering questions or facilitating group work around the topic. 

2.  Virtual reality

In virtual reality (VR), users interact with a computer-generated simulation (usually via a headset) that mimics real life through sound and visuals. While many VR setups still run into the hundreds of dollars, cheaper models like the Merge AR/VR headset are hitting the market every day, allowing greater access to this amazing technology. 

VR can be incorporated into the classroom through

  1. Virtual field trips – With VR, students can travel the world without leaving the classroom. To get a taste of virtual field trips, check out this list of 7 amazing VR field trips
  2. Vocational training – Imagine plumbing students being able to peel back the layers of a house to see the pipework inside – that’s the power of VR technology. 
  3. Foreign language learning – Similar to VR field trips, virtual language learning can transport students to settings where they only hear their target language.

3. AI Chatbots

A chatbot is a program within an app or website that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing to simulate human conversation via audio or text. (If you’ve used jmc’s in-app help feature, you already know what a chatbot is!) In classrooms, chatbots can help automate routine tasks like answering questions about assignment due dates or grading simple quizzes, allowing teachers to focus on more complex or involved tasks. AI chatbots can also provide assistance to users 24/7, ideal for asynchronous or self-paced learning. 

4. Even Bigger Data

With so many schools employing some form of virtual education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have access to more data than ever before. The latest learning analytics tools help collect all that data and analyze it more accurately and efficiently, allowing educators to:

  • Monitor and evaluate student performance continuously over time
  • Pinpoint gaps in student knowledge or engagement
  • Develop learning plans that improve student outcomes

5. Nanolearning

Move over, microlearning! Nanolearning involves breaking educational content into even smaller bites, ideally 2-5 minutes. Since humans tend to remember the first and last things we learn, learning in short chunks increases students’ odds of taking in and retaining the new information. Teaching in smaller units also helps avoid learner overwhelm and provides more frequent opportunities to check for understanding before moving on to new concepts. 

What about you?

What does digital learning look like in your school or district? Any other trends you’re looking out for in 2021? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter so we can add it to our watch list!