The top learning trends to watch in 2023
Education and training markets have been experiencing a lot of volatility and change in recent years. There’s been new technologies, policy shifts — and even a pandemic. Providers of education have had to adapt fast to look after both the bottom line and their students.
The wave of change is not about to stop in 2023. This year is likely to see the continuation of a number of underlying trends in learning across the education and technology markets, whether we're talking about VET and TAFE, higher education, or workforce learning & development.
Educators who capitalise on them are likely to thrive. Here are four trends to watch out for — and use to your advantage:
For some time now, there’s been a growing demand for breaking learning down into smaller and smaller chunks. Granularisation is making bite-sized learning more readily digestible for learners, less expensive to commit to, and more easily slotted in around work or family commitments.
The argument goes that learning, while once completely front-loaded into careers prior to beginning work, (after which little formal learning was undertaken), is now shifting to a lifelong model where everyone needs to be learning knowledge and skills all of the time.
This suits both the nature of the job market and student demand. Employees are no longer working in unchanging jobs for long periods of time. Instead, they need to continually add new skills to their toolkit and retrain, often ‘just-in-time’, to be able to have the capabilities to do their jobs.
In vocational education and higher ed, we see this trend growing in the form of micro-credentials. While still vague in terms of their application in a regulated environment, providers are finding innovative ways to use them in accredited or unaccredited formats.
Some institutions, like higher education providers for example, are deploying smaller courses in areas like employability skills, which capitalise on the ravenous employer appetite for mature soft skills, in addition to the more obvious, table stakes technical or role specific skills.
The granularisation or unbundling of learning is not about to stop in 2023. As student demand increases, we can expect more providers to work towards augmenting their offerings through shorter course offerings or breaking learning down into more easily managed chunks.
Not all students want to (or are even able to) learn the same thing at the same time and in the same place as other students. Rather, they are more likely to want to able to learn the skills and knowledge they want, when they want, where they want, and at their own pace.
Enter the trend towards asynchronous learning. While learning in the past was focused around attendance in a specific physical location, and the teacher-to-student one way download of knowledge and skills, in retrospect, there are disadvantages for many in this model.
Just one disadvantage was cohorts being essentially tied to the pace at which their peers learned. A vocational student, for example, was not able to move onto the next skill once they had been assessed as competent in the last one. They needed to wait until the delivery structure allowed them to move on.
Asynchronous learning opens up the opportunity for much more flexibility in the ways students consume learning offerings. They are more able to do so on their own schedule, and make progress at their own pace. They gain more power over their learning and their future.
There are now interesting classroom models emerging in the TAFE market, for example, where one teacher or trainer services students at multiple different levels of skill or progression, increasing both TAFE operational efficiency as well as student flexibility in learning.
The rise of online and blended learning plays into this trend. As students are able to access and consume learning via digital platforms, the need to be in a physical location at a certain time is removed. Combined with great online learning pedagogy, this can be a real boon for students.
Asynchronicity will only continue. While there is still a place for some synchronous aspects of learning, for example at key milestones, or to shape important things like practical skills or working in teams, asynchronous learning will increasingly be the way of the future.
The rise of data and learning analytics is enabling education providers to better understand and do a lot more across their businesses. ReadyTech’s recent integration with Octopus BI, for example, is enabling vocational educators to optimise course performance and student success.
Now, through learning management and student management systems, educators are being able to capture and analyse much more data on their students, to better understand things like barriers and successes. They can also more easily respond appropriately through the lifecycle.
This means more personalisation for future learners. On human service level, educators who have access to data in the flow of their work will be able to respond with personalised service where it is needed, whether this is through technology automation or in person.
This can start with data capture in the student management system. For example, building richer student profiles through the enrolment process could support education providers with things like work placements aligned with student employment aspirations and goals.
Learning systems, likewise, create personalised experiences. Adaptive LMS technologies, for example, are supporting student progress and achievement by automatically giving students more curated learning in areas of weakness, to ensure they meet course outcomes.
Personalisation will be a key characteristic of more learning experiences in 2023. With the likes of online learning platforms serving up interesting and engaging learning with algorithms to students in a range of areas, providers are going to need to step up to compete.
The days of the all-in-one system that does everything an educator needs are gone — if they ever really existed. While technology providers have marketed themselves as full spectrum providers, the reality is interoperability through integration has always been important.
This is likely to continue to rise in importance in 2023. There is a growing abundance of technologies and products in the market supporting educators with a whole host of needs across student and learning management, and other related areas of their business.
Look hard enough, and you are likely to find a system or tool that solves your problem.
This means just one system isn't always the answer. Instead, educators are increasingly looking to integrated, best of breed technologies, that share data and work together as an ecosystem. More often than not, these systems are now SaaS offerings in the mature cloud market.
CIT’s construction team is a good example. Through the pandemic, they utilised ReadyTech's Ready Skills platform and integration with innovative virtual reality software to support learning and skills tracking in remote environments, and are creatively coming up with new potential.
Where these systems are integrated and talk to each other, educators benefit from both efficiencies and better staff and student experiences, as well as being better able to draw insights from data to make real-time decisions that maximise innovation and agility.
This trend towards interoperability will only accelerate in 2023, as specialist vendors, tools and systems explode in number, and cloud SaaS software providers continue to build larger and larger networks of complimentary, best-of-breed integrations through APIs.