Three eLearning and Higher Education Trends for 2019

In December 2018, I sat down with Tara, our Lead Instructional Designer, to ask her about the trends she sees influencing eLearning and higher education in 2019. Tara consulted in various industries over the years. She now keeps the entire history of our team in her memory. Let’s see what she has to say.

What three trends do you see shaping eLearning in 2019?

There’s a number of trends that I see shaping eLearning—I’m excited about augmented, virtual, and mixed realities; open systems and open pedagogy; and blockchain.

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality

With augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR), you see them actually happening in higher education. [Mixed reality comes from the intersection of AR and VR.]

We’re [our university] actually doing this right now within our nursing education.

We’re using virtual simulations and mixed reality with virtual simulation [at our university]. Students go into a virtual simulation prior to coming to campus to help them prepare for residency. This mixed reality helps them with the overall learning process.

If we had the resources, I would love to see us dive into augmented reality as well.

Open Systems and Open Pedagogy

I’m also excited about the whole open systems in open pedagogy [see How Augmented Reality Enables Conceptual Understanding of Challenging Science Content in Further Resources]. In particular, I’m excited by how you can use open systems to further promote open pedagogy among those in academia (Ed. Note: In 2018, we explored a piece of this in our open educational resources (OER) series).

[With open systems] Faculty can collaborate with each other to develop curriculum and resources as well as collaborate with students to shape it. And they can improve curriculum—you know, those things that don’t work well.

Faculty can further use open technology to help with peer review. In the past, it took faculty a long time to research and develop because you had to go through peer-reviewed journals and the whole peer review process.

With the open pedagogy movement, faculty can use open technologies and resources to help streamline this process. It can even be more effective and collaborative, and you can create more meaningful and richer resources. [Then] You can bring in the end user who will actually benefit from these resources to vet if they’re as valuable as intended.


Finally, I’m excited about blockchain. Blockchain is a secure digital ledger; it’s best known for digital currencies like Bitcoin. Eventually, blockchain could be used in higher ed [similiarly, see how the Europeon Commision says Blockchain can transform higher education]. I’m not sure that we’re really there yet—I’m not sure that we have the systems within higher ed for it to become a reality. But I see its potential.

Once those systems are in place, I believe it can help people get credit for classes taken informally. It can help students who have taken classes for work in a professional environment get a credit for those classes along with credit from academic institutions. So, it allows more flexibility for students.

And in the end, that’s what we want to do. We want to create a cafeteria system where end users or students can design programs and models that work for them. I see blockchain as the way for us to bring that about.

How can we prepare for these trends?

I think we can prepare by communicating more with those in the industry who actually use these things. So, we can work with them, for example, with blockchain and see how what we can do within our own community. We need to decide who in our universities will help educate the community about to these topics.

Thank you very much for sharing these trends, Tara. We look forward to seeing how they shape eLearning and higher education in 2019.

Are you excited to explore these trends? Or, are you lucky enough to be on the cutting-edge of these technologies? Let us know!


Burch, A. (2016, June 2). The top 10 companies working on education in virtual reality and augmented reality. Retrieve from

Ramirez, M-S., Garcia-Penalvo, F-J. (2018). Co-creation and open innovation: Systematic literature review. Comunicar, 54(26), 10-18.

Richman, J. (2017, December 6). How can businesses benefit from virtual reality? Retrieved from

Shakespeare, C., & Curry, J. (2018, November 30). The catalyzing impact of blockchain technology on higher education. Retrieved from

Yardy, D. (2018, January 23). Blockchain in brief: Six ways it can transform higher education. Retrieved from

Yoon, S., Anderson, E., Lin, J., & Elinich, K. (2017). How augmented reality enables conceptual understanding of challenging science content. Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), 156–168. 

Author: Jessica Bishop, Instructional Designer

Jessica is a designer and writer focused on learnability, storytelling, sensemaking, wayfinding, and removing barriers to learning. A Michigan native, she likes crafting, reading, walking, and spending way too much time in the distant corners of the internet. You can also find her at

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