E-learning. What innovations have made Coursera, Skillshare, LinguaLeo popular?

Everyone around is talking about online learning. Does anyone really learn that way?

In the US, 89% of students (schoolchildren and students) say they use EdTech tools at least several times a week. 71% often use them to help with their homework. Quite a big amount, so we decided to check does it made new trends in E-Learning and online education in 2020.



1. Individuality

The future lies in solutions that use adaptive learning technology. After all, the ideal to which online education aspires is a situation where a person receives only the information he needs at a convenient time and in the best format for him.


Adaptive learning is to provide the user with an individual learning experience tailored to his needs. The training program is personalized, reacting to the actions of a particular person, for example, the speed of the test and the number of correct answers in a certain module. Of course, the prospect lies in the use of more subtle adaptability factors in conjunction with Big Data tools that provide the most personalized approach.

Adaptive learning enables you to spend less time on learning with more efficiency. For example, Surgent uses it to prepare for exams to obtain a certified accountant’s license to provide accounting, tax and financial services to the public. Surgent’s A.S.A.P. technology is based on a patented algorithm that takes into account the performance, complexity of the topic, the student’s learning style and even the exam date and available weekly study hours to create an optimal curriculum.

Often companies, when describing their product, use the term adaptive learning in different meanings. You need to understand that a training program can be tailored to three main areas:

1. Content – feedback depends on the specific answer, the sequence of questions, and the presentation of material does not change. For example, the learner may receive hints or references to relevant material.

2. Sequence – The order of questions and the material presented changes depending on the answers. For example, if a student finds it difficult, the questions are simplified.

3. Assessment- the student’s actions are monitored continuously and the content and sequence of the material is dependent on this.

It is most effective when these possibilities work together.


2. Availability

The availability of knowledge is one of the most important benefits of digital education. There is now an increasing amount of information in video and audio format – a guarantee that even students with reading difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) can easily learn almost any discipline.

Availability is also improving geographically. It no longer matters whether you live in an urban or rural area. Anywhere in the world, you can get the knowledge you need.


3. Internet of Things

Electronic diary for e-learning

Schools can create special local networks to exchange information in real-time between teachers, parents, and students. With the help of technology, even children who have difficulty communicating live do not find themselves outside the team. The most common example of the Internet of things in education is the electronic diary.



4. The outflow of money from traditional education

This trend is more about offline education, which gradually begins to lose against the background of online education. Services, platforms and applications help to minimize the routine work of the teacher and free up time for more important tasks: to pay more attention to each child, to help with the choice of profession and subjects for state exams, as well as to form flexible thinking.

Flexible thinking, from Stanford American Professor Carol Duke. People with flexible thinking believe that their success does not depend on initial abilities and level of intelligence but on the efforts invested in self-development. This approach shapes a love of constant learning and resistance to difficulties and failures. Experiments have proven that people with flexible thinking have a growth orientation and are willing to start doing something new and complex – this allows new neural connections to appear in the brain and reinforces existing ones.


5. Peer-to-peer platforms for knowledge sharing

Educational P2P platforms bring students with different abilities together in seconds to answer a common question and share knowledge. Special attention is paid to checking the answers – for example, moderators are specially selected to answer the questions of others. In providing a knowledge base, moderators are assisted by computer algorithms that filter the language and detect spam. This information is displayed in a profile that can be shared, for example, with the university admissions committee and earned additional points for optional activities.


6. Games format learning 

According to Statista, there are over 2.5 billion gamers in the world now. People are happy to compete even in games without real prizes and are often interested in their stories more than information useful for personal and professional development. That’s why the future lies in solutions that seamlessly integrate game mechanics into the learning process – it involves the user.

Specific game mechanics literally “hook up” a person on dopamine – neurotransmitters, causing a sense of satisfaction. With the help of simple dopamine hooks such as earning points, tournament tables, collecting awards and opening levels, people willingly begin to study.

A striking example of successful gamification is Lingualeo’s English language learning service. Thanks to the clear game mechanics with the earning of points, the ability to compete with friends and the feeling of constant progress, learning with it is really slow. Similar mechanics are used in Duolingo language learning service, which uses more than 70 million people.

Gamification of learning also allows you to spread the skill you are learning into a sequence of simple steps with clear goals, helping to sharpen it to automatism. This is why it is also successfully used for physical skills training.

Unlike gamification, when standardized learning is supplemented with game elements, in educational games the model of the subject being studied is integrated into the mechanics. It is an effective non-academic tool to help you master theory, which links knowledge with emotions and allows you to remember the material for a long time.

For example, the strategy of Civilization offers a lot of opportunities for learning history, as the characters and cities in the game are based on historical prototypes. The knowledge obtained from books can be fixed in the game context. With their help it is possible to visually illustrate theoretical positions, as well as help children in practice to understand the cause and effect relationships. In the case of history and civilization, the player controls the ruler and thinks over the strategy of protecting the state, the rational development of resources and building relationships with neighbors.

For the professional development of teachers in this area work specialized programs, such as Sheller’s teacher training program, developed by the Massachusetts University of Technology.


7. AI for personalized and adaptive learning

AI helps free up time to give more personal attention and help children when needed. Personalized and adaptive learning services take over all the routine – running tests, checking them and assigning grades. If a child makes a mistake, the service will provide an explanation and offer another option for the same type of task. This effectively solves the problem of eliminating gaps in knowledge, and the motivation system has an excellent impact on learning. Based on the results, feedback will be available to students, and teachers will be provided with systematized information on progress. Motivation will be built on the students’ personal characteristics.


8. Involvement with AR/VR and immersion technology

As AR/VR technologies develop, so do their capabilities that can be applied in education. One of the advantages is that virtual and augmented reality focuses attention on the subject and also helps to connect knowledge with emotions, so that the material is memorable for a long time. Such services have strong points in teaching children with special needs. For example, students with autism spectrum disorders can virtually visit any excursion, while bypassing the threats associated with discomfort in crowded places.

Immersive technologies for school education, including AR/VR, are likely to develop rapidly in the near future. In addition, ABI Research reports a trend towards lower equipment costs in the U.S., which should be followed by a global decline in price. In this case, teachers will be able to convince the school management to invest in this area, and the classrooms will become real laboratories for augmented and virtual reality. This trend is closely linked to game-based learning and opens up a whole field for development.

For example, the Virtual Reality House application, a virtual simulation of a house, simplifies plumbing training. Using it, they can safely make mistakes and refine algorithms of actions in case of different breakdowns, choosing different complexity scenarios.


Let’s look to the future.

Increased computer literacy and Internet penetration will further increase these figures. The pace of development of EdTech projects convinced that the future available reality can be interactive lectures, where the teacher will be able to demonstrate in real-time moving three-dimensional objects, instantly get test results and general statistics for the class, and adapt the curriculum with the help of AI recommendations.

Just a few years ago, any device was perceived only as entertainment, but technology has proven its worth and as an effective learning tool. Thanks to them, what matters is the result, not the process that is transformed before our eyes.

So, after all, we could summarize that AI, AR/VR, IoT, SaaS have found the new way of usage in the E-learning sphere. Quarantine due to COVID-19 showed us that if you have no choice – you should adopt to the situation and try to use all knowledge and technology to make education even better then it was before. It sims that a lot of offline schools and courses will not continue their work offline because they have adopted and use this situation as a chance or point of growth.