Happy New Year from Teachinguide!  No doubt like us you are looking forward to another strong year for the online course industry.   With so much growth in Udemy and other platforms during 2018 (over 80,000 courses on Udemy!), it begs the question “what’s next for 2019?”.

We’ve taken a shot at predicting some key trends that we think will drive the online course industry and influence course creation in 2019. We hope these predictions will provide some useful insights to incorporate into your 2019 online course strategy.

1. Online learning will pivot to playing a major role in personal career and workforce skills development

Despite the huge proliferation of online learning and elearning platforms, demand for online courses shows no signs of slowing down, but rather continues to grow and provide opportunities to create course content.  It seems the world is finally pivoting in 2019 to a true global mainstreaming of online learning.   Online courses will no longer be a curiosity or nice “extra”, rather they will be viewed as a credible tool for career learning and development needs.

Younger generations and digital transformation are key drivers

For younger generations learning online is fast becoming the norm, with a third of college students taking at least one online course and 15% of US college students enrolled entirely in online courses in 2017.

Additionally, McKinsey Global Institute said that by 2030, roughly 14% of the global workforce may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work.  In the face of this change, individuals are turning to online learning to quickly re-skill themselves.

Employers too are turning to elearning to supply necessary learning and development opportunities for employees. They also increasingly understand and recognize the meaningfulness of online course work in which job applicants and employees looking to progress in their career engage.

2. Tech skills courses will continue to dominate

Following on the previous point, employers and employees alike recognize the ever growing technical skills gap in today’s workforce.  Marketing managers need to understand data science.  Financial analysts need to learn to use visualization tools. Banking execs need to understand blockchain.

Technology is putting many jobs in danger and forcing new skills on incumbent employees, but it’s providing new career opportunities at the same time.  Most people in the workforce are seeing their roles affected by digital transformation, big data, cybersecurity issues, AI, analytics and more.

Employees seeking basic tech knowledge

Knowing this, more and more people will seek to grow their technical knowledge in areas such as programming, even if just by taking courses on Udemy, in order to adapt in their job role, meet corporate needs and demonstrate modern skill sets.

We thus see an opportunity for “light” versions of tech-related courses that help laypersons gain a piece of foundational knowledge in the most popular areas of digitalization and technology, such as basic programming, BI tools or blockchain.

3. Demand for online courses providing credentials will take off

A multitude of online courses offered by academic institutions, data “bootcamps” and other online learning platforms that provide a credential exist.  Nevertheless, in keeping with the global recognition of the value of online learning and development, more and more people will seek to gain new and official credentials through “micro degrees” online.

What this means for Udemy course instructors is that it is a good idea to create fully accredited courses that provide a credential of some sort, or, create online courses that help prepare for certifications. This will meet growing user needs and differentiate the course material.

4. Video-based learning will gain more online course market share

Video based courses are very hot right now.   According to measurement company Zenith, 2019 is the year that internet entertainment and video watching will surpass watching TV.   People are spending more time online watching Youtube, Facebook videos and generally surfing online than watching TV content.   This seems to be happening faster than most experts predicted.

Teachers are also finding it easier than ever to record lectures and lessons and organize delivery of their deep knowledge through videos. The Millennial and younger generations love videos because they are easy to watch, allow for self-paced learning, and permit review and repetition of the video until they fully understand the material.

The Youtube generation

As such, online learners will seek out video learning content akin to Youtube.  Fancy Powerpoint graphics no longer provides enough entertainment – or authority.  Studies have shown that over 60% of youth would follow the instructions and recommendations of Youtube persona.

Thus, successful online course instructors will at a minimum have to create course content that is interspersed with anecdotal or contextual videos, or better, create online courses where video forms an integral part of disseminating the course information.

5. Increased popularity of courses with gamification elements

Learning and gamification go hand in hand in today’s world. This is nothing new.  Already in 2018, gamification and game-based learning were strong trends.  This is because games empower learners and help them engage better with course material, thus promoting course completion and student retention (key to ranking high on Udemy!).

Game-based learning will continue to grow in popularity in 2019 and beyond, thanks to Millennials and especially Generation Z.  Online course instructors know that adapting to the audience is crucial for engagement. Today’s audience is a generation digitally raised on games and the instant gratification given by a passed “level”, “superpowers”, or a top place on the leaderboard.

Simple gamification a minimum requirement

While tools now exist to help instructors gamify their online course content, even simple elements of gamification can and should be simply incorporated into your course design in 2019.  Some examples include personifying the end goal of the course in terms of a superhero, avatar, or “level” achieved.  An instructor can include a roadmap for “leveling up” (progressing) in the course, or offer “super powers” and rewards, or “badges” for overcoming a “challenge”.

Simply putting the learner at the center of instruction, rather than just blindly conveying content, is a good start. Design activities that require action, pose a question that requires a choice, or provide context through case studies and scenarios. Just be more creative in course presentation and design.

Teachinguide’s prediction for where demand will be strongest in 2019

We looked at the last 10 weeks of Udemy course data (up to mid-December) in the Teachinguide database to see which course topics have been growing in popularity.  Below is a summary table of the growth in enrollments for some of the top course topics that we feel are indicative of where the strongest student demand will be in 2019.  Our list is based on the growth in enrollments and/or the total number of enrollments achieved over the period.

Course topic 10 week % increase enrollments Number of enrollments over 10-week period
TKInter 8456% 9,359
Ethereum 6076% 12,131
Ripple 4409% 6,937
Internet of Things 3340% 16,331
VB.Net 3261% 7,301
Web scraping 2965% 15,841
Business Analysis 2424% 7,973
Machine Learning 2184% 45,360
Career Change 1,636% 5,376
Statistics 821% 14,784
Artificial Intelligence 780% 30,716
React 641% 30,163
Data Science 567% 60,494

What this data tells us

TKInter is a great example of a newcomer to the Udemy scene. With only 24 courses on Udemy thus far, there is ample room for growth in this niche topic for instructors. Ripple demonstrates a similar situation of low course supply and high demand, with just 15 courses on Udemy for a hot topic.

Unsurprisingly, many of the highest growing course topics fall under the headline tech topics of today – AI, Machine Learning and Data Science, along with more specific modern programming languages.

It is interesting to note the increased demand for courses on “Career Change”, “Business Analysis” and “Statistics”.  Demand in these categories no doubt reflects the workforce dynamics and the desire to enhance career skill sets that we wrote about in our predictions above.

So, where are the usual suspects of the pre-2019 era – such as Excel, Python, Digital Marketing and others?   Topics such as Excel Dashboards, Pivot Tables, Instagram Marketing and Python are still growing, but growth rates are mellowing out. While it may be tempting to stick to such tried and true online course topics when creating a Udemy course, the space is crowded.

If you are interested in knowing more about which course categories and topics are experiencing high enrollment rates in 2019, why not subscribe to a free trial of Teachinguide and learn how the Teachinguide database can help you detect topic online course trends and much more!

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