How New Tech Will Influence eLearning
contributed by Sarah Daren
eLearning has created the opportunity for people around the world to access courses and content from anywhere for any numbers of reasons.
From children to a seasoned professional, new education technologies are allowing them to take courses online from anywhere in the world and learn in new and unique ways. What are these new and exciting technologies? Both the Consumer Technology Association’s annual show (CES) and even the 2017 Toy Fair featured technology innovations that will influence the way we learn in coming years.
Here are three of the top technologies that promise to influence eLearning.
1. Personalized, Flexible Online Courses
eLearning has depended heavily on online courses, and the traditional approach to these courses works for some students. However, others have a hard time fitting life into their school schedule, and simply can’t keep up with the pace of working with a professor. That’s where self-paced online courses come in.
Many students aren’t working on their studies full-time, of course. They have jobs, families to take care of, and only so many hours in the day. While eLearning online courses can be fully guided by a professor remotely, “blended” courses, which take place in-person and online, or pre-recorded and self-paced classes, there’s still an opportunity for students to fall behind. When students take a self-paced course, it can be difficult to get questions answered, which is one of the most important roles of a teacher.
PluralSight took on the challenge of making a self-taught course as helpful as a fully guided e-learning course by bringing in some unexpected technology: matchmaking algorithms, similar to those used on dating sites. When students get stuck, they can call for help via video chat with a mentor. Using this technology, students can be matched up with a mentor who is best suited to helping them with their problem, 24/7. This technology takes the full independence of a self-guided course and adds a lifeline—someone to turn to when students get discouraged.
This technology forces use to look at learning differently. It isn’t that students who fall behind aren’t understanding the material or choosing not to focus on their studies. Some students have more demands on their time and energy than others, and it can be a challenge for them to keep up. Providing more accessible and flexible eLearning options could help bridge that gap. By offering flexible courses and on-demand help from expert mentors, reducing the STEM diversity problem could become much easier.
2. Robotics for Interactive Learning
Some teachers fear that robots will one day take over the classroom as teachers, but recently technology has proven robots are more tools than teachers. They’re already in a few classrooms, but educators are still working out how to integrate them effectively into curriculums.
New technology for robotics, which emphasizes their use as a tool over humanlike tech may be the answer to robots being welcomed in classrooms. Kubo robot, introduced at the show, is a small robot for small children, helping them to create their own code, and learning new skills that will help them excel later in life. It’s optimized for children ages 3-10—a perfect age for building the core foundations of valuable skills.
Robots like Kubo are a great tool for eLearning, because they can help children apply their learning, whether that’s code, vocabulary, or other skills. They’re fun and interactive, which makes learning more like playtime. Getting low-cost robots into the hands of kids everywhere could be a way to help bridge gaps in student learning and account for different learning styles in the classroom.
3. Better Video in eLearning
Video has been a medium in eLearning for a while, but a lot of it has been limited to pre-recorded modules, and not explored to its full potential. Many people who need to learn a new skill or fix a problem look to the Internet for a video demonstration, because it’s less abstract and we’re used to learning by watching others. Video has the power to engage students, cater to different learning styles, and act as the main tool for learning, rather than as a supplement. But that’s not all video has to offer.
VD360 and others are starting to think about video in eLearning differently—through a lens of video collaboration. Using this method, experts from around the world can be called upon to engage with students—without the need to travel. Children who might not be exposed to much diversity in their communities can be connected all over the world, and teachers can even build a “virtual classroom” experience. Teachers can use video technology to record sessions for students who must miss class, and allows for students who need a little more time to catch on.
Video collaboration could change the way we look at eLearning courses, and how we engage with videos. By bringing students new opportunities, this technology could even help to close the achievement gap by giving all students access to a great eLearning experience.