OLC, in Partnership with the Every Learner Everywhere Network, Releases Environmental Scan of Digital Learning Innovation Trends


Produced in association with the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements, the scan provides a systematic review of relevant data about learning technologies in use in the field and the impact on student success.

BOSTON, Mass. (Feb. 24, 2020) — The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), in partnership with the Every Learner Everywhere Network (Every Learner) and in association with the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA), today announced the publication of “Digital Learning Innovation Trends,” an environmental scan of published research and insights focused on digital learning innovation. The scan provides a systematic review of relevant data about core and emerging learning technologies that are being applied in the field and the potential impact on student success. 

“OLC, together with Every Learner and DETA undertook this scan to help identify and understand innovations in the digital education landscape,” said Jennifer Mathes, interim CEO of OLC. “Our ultimate goal is to pinpoint prominent innovations that have the potential to improve student outcomes in postsecondary education.”  


For the purpose of this scan, digital learning innovations are defined as technologies or ideas that improve access, equity and learning. The scan incorporates various data sources within the postsecondary environment, including an analysis of initiatives that earned OLC Digital Learning Innovation Awards and hundreds of articles and documents, including peer-reviewed journals, popular news and media coverage and others. 

With a better understanding of the technology and trends driving teaching, research and learning, institutions and faculty can prioritize the inclusion of these new innovations in current plans,” said Tanya Joosten, Ph.D., senior scientist and director of digital learning research and development at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and co-director of DETA. “Through analyzing vast amounts of available digital learning information, we know that adaptive learning technologies and open education resources have the potential to maximize the benefits for student learners everywhere, yet more research is needed in these areas.”     

 Analysis of the scan results identified seven major trends in digital learning innovation: adaptive learning, open education resources (OER), gamification and game-based learning, massive open and online courses, learning management systems (LMS) and interoperability, mobility and mobile devices, and design. The analysis also highlighted four secondary trends: blended learning, dashboards, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

In addition to providing insight for those in the field of digital learning, the scan points to opportunities to influence future pathways of the Every Learner Network, which is focused on providing a comprehensive, collaborative, and coordinated approach to help colleges and universities take advantage of the rapidly evolving digital learning landscape in ways that maximize the benefits for students.

About Every Learner Everywhere

For years, colleges and universities have struggled with high DFWI rates and low retention in high-enrollment general education courses, particularly for low income and first-generation students and students of color. Founded in 2017, Every Learner Everywhere is a network of diverse organizations that work collaboratively to improve student outcomes in gateway courses by improving teaching and learning strategies through the use of digital tools.  Every Learner Everywhere has connected experts in the field of digital learning, aligned around a shared vision, and has begun providing resources to increase student success and completion and eliminate the equity gap that exists in higher education. For more information, visit https://www.everylearnereverywhere.org/.

About DETA

The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) was established in 2014 by funding from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).  The objective of DETA is to promote student access and success through evidence-based digital learning practices and technologies.  Specifically, DETA identifies and evaluates instructional and institutional practices through rigorous research with particular interest in underrepresented individuals. For more information, visit https://detaresearch.org/

About Online Learning Consortium

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. Visit http://onlinelearningconsortium.org for more information.