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Distance Learning in Higher Education 2023: The Year in Review mobile hero image

Distance Learning in Higher Education 2023: The Year in Review

In 2023, distance learning in higher education saw some major trends, advancements, announcements, and notable reversals. 2024 is shaping up to be truly revolutionary, with remote classrooms looking more like the futuristic visions promised to us in decades past. Here we offer a summary of the year just ending as well as a preview of the year to come to keep your institution up to date. 

2023: Noteworthy News  

The stories that caught our interest this year speak to the limitless potential of distance learning and possible but surmountable speedbumps in the education space. 

Distance Learning Continued to Grow as Campus-Based Enrollments Dwindled 

According to “Changing Landscape of Online Education,” a report reviewed by Inside Higher Ed in August, while overall higher education enrollments have decreased in recent times, online and hybrid program enrollments have increased. A senior official connected with the report cautioned: “For many institutions struggling with enrollment and revenue levels, success in building online capacity may spell the difference between viability and crisis in the next decade.” 

Institutions Implemented (Then Abandoned) AI-Detecting Software 

In late 2022, ChatGPT was released to both great anticipation and trepidation. In the academic realm, colleges and universities were alarmed that the readily available artificial intelligence chatbot could “write” papers in seconds, enabling students to turn in work that wasn’t theirs. While many online programs already use measures such as lockdown browsers and live proctors to thwart plagiarism, ChatGPT introduced added concerns. 

By January 2023, some institutions had already implemented AI detection software. However, amid questions about whether some students could be erroneously identified as cheaters—a phenomenon that came to fruition—within months, many institutions began dropping the software until a more reliable version can be developed.  

Women Took a Wide Lead  

According to a 2023 survey with results published by Statista in August, female students comprised 61% of all online students while male students made up only 35% of the online student population. There are many potential reasons for this disparity, including the need among some women, even in 2023, to manage the lion’s share of family responsibilities. While the tremendous increase in the number of women attending college over the last five decades is without question a positive development, higher education institutions must work harder to attract more men to their online programs. 

International Students Had Their Say 

Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company ran a survey to determine what students consider most important in online higher education. More than 7,000 students across 17 countries participated in the survey, which was published in June. The top three learning features ranked by participants were, 1) the ability to record classes and view them later at their convenience, 2) easy access to online study materials, and 3) flexibility that enables students to work and study. These directly align with the benefit-driven marketing messages that we at Apollidon use to lead our campaigns. 

Exciting Developments to Watch For in 2024 

Here’s a preview of some expected distance learning developments for 2024. Unsurprisingly, they all center around technology. Though some of these advancements are already in use, that use is expected to widen during 2024. 

 College Goes to the Arcade 

Gamification is an increasingly popular way to engage students, and in 2024 it’s poised to become a mainstream idea. Gamified distance learning platforms incorporate game elements to make the learning process more appealing. Students can set goals, track progress, compete against classmates, and at the end of assignments feel an immediate sense of accomplishment.   

AI Becomes Our Ally 

While AI has created some challenges in education, it also has the capability to provide a tailored learning experience by analyzing student data and delivering real-time, intelligent feedback. On the administrative side, AI can handle tasks such as grading tests, freeing up teachers to devote more attention to their students. 

Students Explore New Realities 

Widely applied for recreational and personal use, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have substantial educational applications. These technologies can enable students to virtually visit ancient Greek ruins or the Grand Canyon, perform virtual experiments, and more from their homes or anywhere. It’s the next-best thing to a hands-on experience for distance learners.  

Education Meets the Metaverse 

Using a headset like those used for VR and AR, students may be able to access a new type of shared immersive internet experience. In it, students would enter a virtual classroom of students from around the globe, giving the appearance that they were sitting in a physical room alongside their classmates. Students could even explore a virtual campus. The Metaverse could replicate some aspects students enjoy about brick-and-mortar learning while providing countless advantages not possible in the physical world. 

Greater achievements could be ahead for your institution in 2024 with the added support of Apollidon. Let us show you how to navigate the new year as a distance learning leader with marketing that targets the type of students you’re seeking. Contact us today to discuss the customized services we can offer you. 



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