With tips for how to incorporate them into your online courses

The Online Learning Industry Evolution

Online learning platforms come in several forms – MOOCs, online universities, corporate eLearning, K12 education, learning management systems like Teachable, and of course, Udemy and similar platforms such as Skillshare.

The online learning industry is clearly here to stay – and still growing. Estimates of how big the online industry will become over the next few years, but generally range from $200– $300 billion.

As an online teacher and course creator, it’s important to understand trends in the industry and be continuously thinking and exploring how you can provide engaging content for your students that adheres to the latest preferences for online learners.  After all, not too many years ago, voice- over Powerpoint presentations were the norm.  Now they just put people to sleep. This online learning industry and how it uses technology to enhance and mold learning will continue to evolve.

So we’ve taken a look at many industry sources to find out what experts think will be the dominant trends in online learning in 2019 and over the next few years.  As a Udemy instructor, it may be difficult to incorporate some of the trends described in this article into your course due to Udemy’s online learning platform limitations. However, where appropriate, we have made some suggestions for how to leverage this information when creating your own courses.

5 Online Learning Trends

Adaptive Learning Will Continue to Advance

Adaptive learning refers to the use of algorithms to determine what is the most appropriate education or training modules for a learner.  The goal of adaptive learning is to deliver a highly personalized learning experience and meet specific learner needs.  Based on their performance, learners get only the material that they need to learn.

With the rapidly growing sophistication of both online learning technology and artificial intelligence advancements, and the real benefits adaptive learning provides to learners, this trend is sure to dominate the online learning market this year and beyond.

Tip for Udemy Instructors:  While you can’t incorporate a real-time algorithm into your Udemy course, you can provide a short self-assessment quiz at the beginning of your course to help students identify areas of strength and weakness for your topic. You can then provide corresponding suggestions for which modules of your course to focus on, based on this assessment.


The good news for Udemy and other consumer-facing online instructors, microlearning (learning in small chunks) will continue to be adopted in 2019 and beyond.  According to recent research by Euromonitor International, “more consumers are willing to buy products and services that optimize the use of their time.”   This is an important trend that impacts the online learning market.

Individuals are busier than ever and doing many things from their mobile devices and on the go.  Learning in small chunks just makes more sense for a lot of people, rather than sitting down to a 3-hour course. Microlearning is also particularly useful to corporations who want to keep employees skilled up and engaged without weighing them down with time-consuming, boring training. 

Online learning needs to be less time-consuming compared to traditional learning.  Online teachers need to consider whether it is better to create a several hours-long comprehensive courses or break it up into 30-minute mini-courses. They also need to think about how best to convey learning outcomes in the most efficient manner.

Tips for instructors:

 Even though research shows that course duration contributes to ranking and engagement scores, and many of the most popular courses are hours long, it’s important to keep the concept of learning in “chunks” in mind when designing your course.  

Besides that keeping your Udemy modules short and to the point, microlearning can be implemented with small games, pop quizzes, and simple downloadable infographics. You can also design some “quick and dirty”, short modules that convey a very quick, specific learning point. Then point your students to these in your course introduction in case they are short on time. Finally, consider creating some mini-courses of 30 minutes (the minimum allowed on Udemy) and see how that works out.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Gamification and game-based learning continue to grow in popularity with online learners.  Gaming is not just for kids. It’s simply where consumers and employees are at these days.  Who isn’t familiar with the concepts of earning badges and points?  It’s a lot more fun than classroom lectures and lengthy. assigned reading.  The teaching industry recognizes now that gamification improves retention rates and provides a better application of the subject matter learned.  Studies show too that games help in releasing happy hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. Happy online learning is a good thing.

Tips for Udemy instructors: While you can’t provide real-time leveling up, re-do’s, and rewards Mario-Kart style, you can inject elements of gamification into your course.  You can, for instance, design your entire course to be a series of leveling up, assigning “badges” or “points” of varying value for accomplishing different modules, assignments, and so forth.  You can provide indicators and verbal mentions of course progress.  Test and quizzes can have badge awards as well. You can also make suggestions for external games or gamification-based learning for your students to explore.  Finally, storytelling is part of gamification. You can incorporate a fantasy-type story into your course design, with characters, levels, and more.

Video-Based Learning

Image result for video learning

This one seems obvious, we know.  But just to reinforce the trend, recent research shows that nearly every professional agrees that video learning works.  80% of professionals feel that the flexibility and control of online learning with videos improves the quality of learning.

What’s important here for instructors to be thinking about is mixing it up video-wise.  There are a variety of ways to incorporate video into online learning besides the stand-in-one-place talking head.  Live streaming is hugely popular and you can incorporate video by having your students make videos for assignments, selfie videos, video snippets of expert tips, best practice demos, and even bad practice demos.  Instructors should focus on going forward is to use tools that decrease the size and load time of videos as well.

Tips for Udemy instructors:  Mix up your talking head video by including links to Youtube videos (even videos of yourself demonstrating something on a Youtube video), invite students to live-streamed bonus sessions on your personal website, ask students to complete video-based assignments, and then feature the best in your course updates. Get creative with your videos.

Focus on Personal Development and Competency-Based Skills

Image result for life skills

This is a content-based trend in online learning.  With the rise of corporate eLearning vendors of corporate learning, human capital management consultants like Deloitte, as well as universities, are all finding that non-academic skills such as leadership, people management, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication will be a focus for online learning going forward. Content-wise this means any skills that enable people to succeed in their professional roles and adapt to changes in their professional or personal lives will be in demand.

As Deloitte puts it in their report “Unlocking Human Potential”:

“Learning that focuses only on context-specific techniques or mastering existing stocks of knowledge may be useful, but are prone to fall short in helping us navigate the changing world.”

Universities are also offering curricula to teach professional competencies to help students gain skills that will allow them to be more effective in their future professional roles.  According to Wiley Education Services over 600 universities planned to adopt competency-based learning degree programs in 2018.

Tips for Udemy instructors:  The takeaway here is pretty clear in terms of potential topics and niche topics to explore. Start thinking about non-technical but highly useful soft skills that are transferable across professions and in people’s personal lives.  And if you are teaching a more academic topic, perhaps you can incorporate some of the more “human” aspects of the topic and “soft skills” into your course design on your next update.

Psst: Want to know more about hot topics for online learning in 2019?  Read our blog about it here.

That’s it! While there are many other trends in online learning, these are perhaps the 5 that are most dominant and which Udemy instructors can at least try in some way to address in their course design and presentation.  Have you found a clever way to incorporate any of these elements into your online course? Please share!

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  1. Maybe in few years offline learning would be replace completely with online learning. Because there is so much to learn but so less time. Everyone wants to have multiple skills but time makes it difficult.

    • THanks for your input Rajat. I think we might see something along the lines of what we have been seeing with eCommerce replacing or supplementing brick and mortar stores. People still like to experience the physical world, but less so when it is not convenient or more expensive..

  2. Today’s tech-savvy, social, and mobile learners are no longer interested in traditional classroom training and demand learning techniques that blend best with their current working style and outlook. While online learning will continue to evolve and change, organizations looking for long -term success must focus on these trends.


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