How Online Learning Will Shape Future Generations?

The global education industry is undergoing a paradigm shift from being teacher-centric to being student-centric.

Professor David Kember of the University of Tasmania was the first one to write about this concept in 1997. Below is how Kember visually presented the possible shift in relationships among teacher, student, and resulting learning context (i.e., teaching, content, and knowledge).

In the teacher-centred approach, the teacher actively selects and delivers course content to their passive students. Whereas, in the student-centred approach, students are actively engaged in discovering course content and construction of knowledge, with teachers playing the role of facilitators/change agents. 

Since Kember first published about it, the education industry has been rapidly moving towards the student-centred learning approach, and online education has been the primary catalyst for this change.

The COVID-19 outbreak further propelled this trend. A KPMG and Google study conducted in 2016 estimated that the online education market in India was set to grow to $1.96 billion (Rs 14,836 crore), with 9.6 million users by 2021, up from $247 million (Rs 1,870 crore) and 1.6 million users in 2016, with reskilling and certification courses being the biggest contributors.

upGrad, India’s largest online higher education company, has been at the forefront of this change. It has helped more than 40,000 learners upskill themselves to get up to 400% salary hikes across various domains.

In the corporate world, this means that employees are now required to go both deep and wide when it comes to nurturing their skill sets. This has also led to higher competition in the job market and constant stirring up of job roles.

This growing need for constant upskilling on the job can also be attributed to the following factors:

  • Rapidly Evolving Technology requires executives and managers to unlearn and relearn constantly. Particularly, in the last five years, many novel technologies have emerged and become mainstream in no time. Here’s a detailed account of all the top trending technologies of 2021.
  • Corporate Training – Companies worldwide are more zealous to invest in their employee training to retain and nurture talented employees.
  • Prevalent Skill Gap in India – The India Skill Report, 2019 reveals that only 45.6% of the graduating youth are actually employable. The reason being that a large number of the workforce doesn’t either possess relevant knowledge and skillset or doesn’t qualify for those available job opportunities.
  • Enhancing Competencies & Ensuring Job Security – The rising economic instability and the aftermath of the pandemic have prompted the corporate workforces to invest in enhancing their competencies in order to retain their job or secure a better one.

Widespread Adoption of Online Learning & The Role Of Leading Universities

The need for upskilling and agile learning is on the rise, and online education is the only potent medium available to fulfil this demand. This has also led to some of the world’s most prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge going online in order to provide a remote, customised, and more diverse learning experience with others following suit.

Universities are also collaborating with private technology platforms worldwide to effectively disseminate their content, engage learners and help them find employment. Elite educational institutes such as IIT Madras, T Bangalore, Duke University, Swiss School of Business & Management, etc., have collaborated with upGrad to provide world-class higher education and upskilling courses to learners across the globe.

Not just that, they also facilitate job procurement for their graduating students, and it comes at a fraction of the cost involved in attending a physical university. This is the power of online education, and it is going to play a pivotal role in the way educational institutes operate in the future.

Impact Of COVID-19 On Online Learning

Very few educational institutions across the globe were fully utilising online or blended learning techniques before the pandemic. When COVID-19 struck, according to UNESCO, 98 per cent of the global student population in 191 countries switched from offline to online learning.

Now those are staggering numbers! 

Google Classrooms, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams were some of the most popular platforms that empowered this change.

COVID-19 has forced students, employees, and companies to learn how to adapt to a lack of physical interaction and physical access to space. We are now capable of getting many things done virtually, and some of these newly formed habits may become a norm. 

COVID-19 has definitely brought about a rampant shift in the education industry, which is here to stay.

How is the educational landscape going to evolve from here?

We’ll find out in this next section.

How Will Online Learning Change The Educational Landscape?

The online learning industry has grown tremendously, as their products and services have become necessities. Educational institutes are now required to have online courses and blended learning in order to survive in the long run. The high course fees associated with full-time, campus-based courses also act as a deterrent for classroom-based learning. Others feel that studying full-time interferes with other significant commitments, such as a current job or raising a young family.

The advent of next-generation technologies such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality is also widening the horizons in terms of content development and delivery. As per the data released by Nearpod (a VR-based learning company), more than 6 million students in the US and beyond have experienced its lessons, such as virtual field trips, in the last two years.

In the Indian context, these online technologies will play a vital role in shaping the future of the Indian education industry. According to research conducted by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2016, the quality of education given to children in India has constantly been declining.

While governments have sworn to make education open to all and enrollment of children in schools in the country as high as 97 per cent, the standard of education provided in these schools is well below average. Digitisation is the only way to elevate the quality of education. Let’s look at some of the key technologies that can help in elevating the quality of education across India and beyond.

Cutting Edge Digital Learning Technologies

A host of emerging technologies are taking the education industry by storm. Some of the applications of these technologies include – speeding up content delivery, making the learning experience more immersive, aiding the content development process, better record-keeping, etc.

Let’s look at the five most prominent digital learning technologies below –

1. Artificial Intelligence

Amongst other applications, artificial intelligence mainly aids in creating high-quality digitised learning material that is contextualised to make learning more meaningful and engaging. Educators are using AI to create a customised curriculum that focuses on each student’s individual needs by incorporating learning psychology, behavioural analytics, content delivery, and progress evaluations.

2. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

Edu-innovators are increasingly leveraging AR to create interactive learning experiences using your mobile device. AR can bring a boring-looking textbook to life or transform your wall into the blueprint of the waterways of Venice. Some of the popular AR-based learning apps are HP Reveal and Wonderscope.

On the other hand, virtual reality is helping educators create memorable and immersive learning environments from scratch. Imagine learning about the topography of Mars while actually walking on it or learning about World War 2 while hovering about the warfronts of Europe in the early 1940s. 

Would you ever Forget What you Have Learned Like That?

VR can truly stretch our imagination and encourage creative thinking. This is one of the reasons why the VR market is exploding and is estimated to be worth $20.9 billion by 2025.

3. Internet of Things

The Internet of things is being used to build more intelligent and connected virtual classrooms. Real-time collaboration tools can be used to help parents to stay on top of all educational requirements. Institutions may also use time-stamp technology to identify absenteeism, lack of interest, or a difference in academic requirements.

The Internet of Things links and engages all resources with the student, thereby helping with all bottom-line solutions in education.

4. 5G Technology

Wireless technology that promises high speed and low latency, i.e., the fifth-generation network, or 5G, will increase the number of connected devices and technology in the virtual classroom. The technology is poised to change the way educational institutions communicate while also expanding and allowing for faster downloads and improved productivity.

5. Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is already transforming the way in which educational institutes maintain student records and authenticate them. In addition to that, it can also facilitate task-automation with the help of smart contracts, and it can help researchers publish their work digitally and possibly even sell it using NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). Non-profit organisations such as Woolf University are completely powered by blockchain technology.

The Impact Of Digital Learning & How It Will Shape The Future Generations?

The youngest generation, generation Alpha, is expected to make up 2 billion of the global population by 2025. This generation doesn’t remember a time without boundless connectivity, multiple computing interfaces and virtual interactions. 

In the context of education, the foundation is set for online learning to become completely mainstream. Going into the future, the standard norms of educational qualification and academic success may not be applicable. Let’s look at how digital learning will shape some aspects of future generations.

1. Lifelong Learners

For future generations, it’s not going to be about attending college to learn some skills and then practising at a job; instead, learning will be a lifelong process. With rapidly changing technology, they will have to keep acquiring new skills and do away with the old ways of doing things. Learning and doing is going to become an intermingled process powered by technologies such as VR & AI. Online learning is already making us used to this way of learning.

2. Higher Level Of Self-Awareness

Education is going to become more and more student-centred and personalised in the future. This means that the students will have much more clarity about their skill sets, strengths & weaknesses, and passions. This way of learning will set them on a path of self-discovery very early on, making them more self-aware and confident from a very young age.

3. From Doing the Job to Enabling Automation

With access to unlimited access to technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence, the role of future generations in the workplace also might evolve significantly. Jobs of the future might be more centred around learning, research, experimentation, and innovation than being execution and management centric in the current scenario. The future workforce would be more focused on enabling machines to do their job instead of learning to do them themselves.

We are already witnessing this change, especially in the digital marketing space, where marketers can now automate campaigns with marketing automation tools and CRM software. Large scale industries such as e-commerce & retail are witnessing a momentous change with the advent of artificial intelligence for conducting business, supporting & guiding customers and processing orders.

Some leading AI-based commerce companies such as allows e-commerce companies worldwide to use conversational commerce to engage with audiences and convert them into buyers. This AI-powered chatbot illustrates how the role of sellers and marketers is changing from closing transactions to enabling automation of these tasks using AI.

Here’s in detail about how some of the world’s leading brands are leveraging conversational commerce.

4. Collaborative as Well as Self-Reliant

Online learning shapes future generations to operate seamlessly while working with large groups or even while working alone. Online learning has made knowledge easily accessible anytime, anywhere, making sure that the future generation does not have to rely too much on other people for what they do not know about. On the other hand, the future workforce is also learning to be better team players as modern education emphasises a lot on learning social and human skills from an early age.

5. Experimentative & Innovative

The student-centred learning approach powered by online education instils a lot of confidence in learners’ minds, making them open to taking risks in their careers. On the other hand, increasing automation reduces the burden of doing mundane and repetitive tasks, leaving more room for experimentation and innovation.

6. Exponentially Higher Productivity

Digital learning is enabling future generations to become more skilled at their job. Parallelly, the bandwidth of interaction between man and machine is rising meteorically, with companies such as Neuralink pushing the limits of human-machine interface. These two simultaneous developments could mean that the future generations will be exponentially more productive and efficient than us at their work.

7. Equal Opportunities for Everyone

Digital learning will play a massive role in ironing out the inequalities prevailing in the current world and ensuring that everyone gets a levelled playing field. When learning becomes accessible for all, it will allow learners from underprivileged backgrounds to have the same quality of education as someone born with a silver spoon.

8. Better Quality Of Life

As the future generations become more productive, they will have more time for themselves. This will allow them to focus more on their health and self-development, thereby ensuring a better quality of life. 

By being an arm of the education system that is open to all students, digitisation provides fluidity to the education field according to the students’ individual needs. And online learning is bound to play a significant role in shaping future generations.

How do you think online learning has impacted your life?
How do you feel the education industry is going to evolve in the future?
Do let us know in the comments below.

About the author:

Chirag Kotak is the Co-Founder of Jumper.Ai. He also heads all things business @ – the new age social commerce platform enabling merchants small to big, take their shop to the shoppers. Jumper’s tech allows merchants to transact directly on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more – and see a true return on investments on their social media spend. He’s always on the lookout for partnerships and working with companies trying to leverage social media to their fullest advantage.

What major changes have been brought about by online learning?

To enlist all the changes is beyond the bounds of possibility. With the changes pertaining to online learning, online sharing of notes, submission of assignments, and taking online exams are now a bygone change. State of the art technology of augmented reality and virtual reality have replaced well-read books with pragmatically experiencing the lessons, may it be of world war or the way a microbe affects the body. Artificial Intelligence has brought another eminent change by making the lessons, the lectures as well as the curriculum students-centric and as per their level of apprehension and eruditeness. Blockchain technology assisted with 5G Internet has made digital learning more secure and opportune.

Why was the online mode of learning able to overtake the offline mode?

COVID-19 pandemic was not the only determinant behind such a shift but undoubtedly played a pivotal role in it which led to 98% of the student population in 191 countries switching from offline to online learning. Such a shift was invariably lacking. Not all people can afford to visit the premises of a school or university, both in terms of financial capacity and feasibility. Upskilling is cardinal for improvement in knowledge as well as pay; thanks to online learning it can now be managed along with work and family. It also provided an even-handed opportunity to both the privileged and under-privileged, which offline mode failed to do.

Can such change ever be reverted?

This change was entailed by a multitude, so an outright reversal is not likely to happen. Those inimical to it can adopt offline learning, but that will be in the short term because the future is driven by technology. Accentuating the drawbacks of online learning like lack of physical presence, data-driven learning, and excessive screen time is true but disregarded by many. Keeping up with the world both in terms of technology and perking up is implicit now.

Want to share this article?

The best time to learn is now!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Free career counselling from upGrad experts!
Book a session with an industry professional today!
No Thanks
Let's do it
Get Free career counselling from upGrad experts!
Book a Session with an industry professional today!
Let's do it
No Thanks