4 non-technological trends driving online training globally

Given that online training is so closely linked to technology, it could be believed that it will be precisely the digital context that drives its future, but this is not necessarily the case. Some of the most profound changes in this educational model are promoted by factors that could be called more human. Some of those that can be recognized today are: the diversification of disciplines offered in online format, investment in technology that is not used and wears down institutions, less visible or directly present teachers, and collaborative learning.

1. Topic diversification

Even today it is common to observe resistance to adapt certain areas of knowledge to online training, for example, programs related to health and engineering. [4] More broadly, this phenomenon applies to almost any subject that is considered practical or theoretical-practical, especially in matters of design, which is particularly true in larger universities, with a more consolidated tradition. But this fact is changing rapidly.

The training offerings that originally focused on IT or business topics are expanding more and more. More and more disciplines find space in online training. In this sense, the tough competition that exists between the different educational institutions will have its winners in those that set foot first in unexplored areas.

Una inyectadora que apunta a una boca abierta en una pantalla de computadora. Representación de la enseñanza de disciplinas prácticas como la odontología a través de medios virtuales.
Teaching of practical disciplines such as dentistry through virtual means. Drawing by the author.

2. In love with technology

Certain institutions are carried away by the temptation to want to revolutionize the training scene through new technologies and pay less attention to the teachers, instructional designers and technicians behind the courses. [1] Linked to the introduction of this article, in many cases technology becomes an objective in itself. A couple of examples are virtual reality and the so-called gamification (using game mechanics in the training environment). For these models, it is usually invested in applications and gadgets for the simple fact of connecting with fashion, without reflecting on how they help to approach the teaching objectives.

Una persona que usa lentes de realidad virtual que no están conectados, es decir, no tienen energía. Caricatura para representar el uso sin sentido de la tecnología.
Virtual reality used senselessly as a caricature. Drawing by the author.

3. Less present teacher

One of the trends that has seen the most growth in recent years is the increase in the offer of courses that do not require the constant interaction of a teacher. [2] After building a course, learning is built from the student, who is faced with the materials and resources at his disposal, often focused on texts, presentations and videos.

One of the clearest examples of this phenomenon are the so-called MOOCs, which stands for Massive Open Online Course, that is, Massive Open Online Courses. [3] This fact increases the demand for teachers-creators of content, a role different from the traditional one. In a synchronous classroom, whether face-to-face or virtual, the teacher can attend to the doubts of the students, their emotions, but, when this possibility is lost, the instructional design must be structured trying to foresee the possible difficulties that the students will face. participants. The space to improvise solutions is drastically reduced.

Rompecabezas en proceso de armado de un profesor que apunta a una pizarra dentro de una pantalla de computadora. Representación de recursos didácticos construidos para la educación online.
Didactic resources built for online education. Drawing by the author.

4. Collaborative learning

Associated with the above, the absence of a teacher with whom to interact is one of the reasons that is transferring a large part of the responsibility to the student. At the same time, this fact is being complemented by spaces that motivate collaboration between course participants, but not as members of a team to accomplish a task, but as integral links in a joint learning process. By having their interests aligned, expressed through that particular training course, students are invited to associate, share and help each other. In this way, a participant can clarify her doubts when discussing with others, but also learning is strengthened through the effort that the debate means and the need to teach others.

Una serie de personas converzando como representación de un aprendizaje colaborativo.
Representation of collaborative learning. Drawing by the author.


The potentials, possibilities and needs of distance education are innumerable. It remains to know how to use it as best as possible, seeking efficiency and effectiveness, demonstrated mainly in the learning of our students, this is a commitment that cannot be forgotten (translated by the author from “Desafios da qualidade na expansão da Educação Superior a Distância no Brasil"). [5]


[1] N. Borrego, H. Rodríguez, R. Walle, and J. Ponce, “Educación Superior Virtual en América Latina: Perspectiva Tecnológica-Empresarial,” Form. Univ., vol. 1, no. 5, pp. 3–14, 2008.

[2] R. Claudio, Ed., Prospectiva de la Educación a Distancia en América Latina y el Caribe. Loja: Instituto Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Calidad en Educación Superior a Distancia (CALED), 2018.

[3] C. Rama, “La virtualización universitaria en América Latina,” Univ. Knowl. Soc. J., vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 33–43, 2014.

[4] C. Rama, “La fase actual de expansión de la educación en línea o virtual en América Latina,” Universidades, no. 70, pp. 27–39, 2016.

[5] P. Lupion Torres, J. Roesler, J. Vianney, K. Ethienne, and A. Sales Coelho, “Desafios da qualidade na expansão da Educação Superior a Distância no Brasil,” in Prospectiva de la Educación a Distancia en América Latina y el Caribe, C. Rama, Ed. Instituto Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Calidad en Educación Superior a Distancia (CALED), 2018, pp. 43–72.

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