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Internet trends report highlights online learning and visual marketing

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Major Internet report includes both general trends and research specifically relevant to educators and education marketers
  • The report underlines how crucial it is for educators and recruiters to fine-tune their image- and video-based marketing strategies
  • YouTube’s popularity has never been greater, and “how to” videos are among its biggest attractions for youth
  • Interest continues to grow in online course delivery and microcredentials

Every year, one of the world’s leading digital researchers and venture capitalists, Mary Meeker, releases a massive slide presentation detailing global Internet trends. All 333 slides of the 2019 Internet Trends Report were made public earlier this year.

Following are some of the most relevant highlights for educators and recruiters, from general to education-specific.

  • People now expect and prefer to receive digital information through images rather than text, a trend accelerated by the growth of image-based digital platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and the increasingly sophisticated image and video-based functionality of Facebook and Twitter. More than 50% of Twitter impressions (i.e., total times a tweet has been seen) now come from posts that include images.
  • Even as Internet adoption increases (half the world’s population now has access), it is becoming more difficult to reach target audiences as privacy concerns grow and as customer acquisition costs – the marketing budget required to attract new customers – rise amid intense competition. Ms Meeker recommends more use of strategies such as free trials to tempt target audiences to try out products and services.
  • More and more ad spend is happening on Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest, though Facebook and Google still claim the largest shares of total revenue.
  • Time spent on digital media is going up. In the US, users spent 7% more time digitally connected than the previous year – much of this growth due to time spent on mobile phones. Four in 10 (39%) American 18–29-year-olds consider themselves online “almost constantly”; across all age groups, the average proportion of those who say they are this connected is 26%.
  • Higher education is in the midst of profound disruption caused in part by the rising costs of tuition. Over 7,000,000 new Internet users are expected to come online over the next seven years, many of these from developing countries, and many of them young adults. There will be dramatic opportunities for existing digital education providers and low-cost/high-value educators as a result. In the US alone, the proportion of post-secondary students in offline-only programmes declined from 74% in 2012 to 67% in 2017.
  • The report notes that a number of offline educators are introducing or expanding online course and degree offerings, and that Coursera is one of the top platforms enabling online programme delivery. As we reported earlier this year, MOOCs experienced another year of impressive growth in 2018: total enrolment passed the 100 million student threshold with a 30% increase in total student numbers over the previous year.
  • The trend toward online education is also ushering a whole new tier of education services and companies, MOOC platforms among them, and this trend dovetails with a related one: the rise of micro-credentials.
  • Remote English-language learning platforms are gaining ground, and quickly: VIPKid video chat instruction in China (a platform targeted to students aged 4–15) had 200,000 users in 2017; in 2019 the user base tripled to 600,000. VIPKid’s North American teacher user base went from 30,000 in 2017 to 70,000 in 2019. In India, video-based classes for youth aged 9–17 offered by Bangalore-based learning app BYJU’S have seen a similarly astronomical growth curve. In March 2019, BYJU’S became one of the world’s most highly valued edtech companies.
  • YouTube is massive in terms of its appeal among teenagers and young adults wanting to learn how to do something, whether it’s a foreign language or a recipe for muffins. YouTube is now reporting 4.5 billion hours spent by users watching “how-to” videos, and 59% of GenXers say that YouTube is their “preferred learning tool.” The implications of this are profound for educators: if you don’t have a series of “how-to” videos in areas such as how to apply, how to get a visa, how to feel at home in a new culture, etc. – it’s definitely time.

Ms Meeker’s fast-paced overview presentation, as given at the Code Conference in June 2019, appears below.

For additional background, please see:

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