I believe the trend that will make the most impact on digital learning in the K12 environment over the next five years will be the implementation of gamification. Gamification is the application of game elements in nongaming situations, often to motivate or influence behavior.
According to EDUCAUSE “gamification has the potential to help build connections among members of the academic community, drawing in shy students, supporting collaboration, and engendering interest in course content that students might not have otherwise explored”.
Knewton further breaksdown the potential of gamification in The Gamification of Eduction. It highlights the fact that while 1.2 million students fail to graduate, 28 million people play FarmVille and over 5 million play an average of 45 hours a week in games.
Gamification works because there is progression (one can see success in small steps), there is investment (sense of pride), and finally the cascading information theory (unlock information continuously).
If this can be implemented into the classroom in addition to discussion posts, I believe that students will become more engaged when otherwise they might not be which would encourage motivation in the online environment.