Experts Outline Trends to Watch in eLearning
Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on March 27, 2017 at 7:21 am
Like everything else these days, education has been evolving rapidly with the growth of Internet-based tools and resources and the rapid advancement of technology in general as it regards to eLearning. Some of the most promising trends in education include utilizing data in a more meaningful way, micro-learning experiences, and mobile learning opportunities.
Optimizing utilization of data for eLearning
Educational institutions have been looking at data to extrapolate student performance for decades. This process has given data-based education a bad reputation with many of those in the field of education. It is the fuel behind the criticism that teachers are teaching to the test rather than teaching students the information they need to succeed in life.
While this may have been true in the past, data is being used in entirely different ways and has the potential to fundamentally change the way students are taught going forward, experts say.
Robert McGuire, founder of McGuire Editorial and Consulting, explains, “Data-driven personalized learning will require faculty to think differently about their courses and about their role in developing the courses.”
He believes this will become more evident as employers seek educators who are instructional designers and able to create custom content for their courses based, in part, on data about the student population.
Adaptive learning is another way in which the use of large amounts of data have become invaluable. This is a form of personalized learning that uses the data collected from a large selection of student metrics to provide individual students with the most effective learning path in real time.
Programs track how long students spend exploring certain types of content, their responses following exposure of new content, and how well specific types of measurements reflect actual mastery of a topic.
Diana Patton, director of tutoring at PrepScholar, discussed the importance of this type of data gathering and utilization. She says, “Data drives the best adaptive programs and is also an incredible asset to teachers using eLearning in their lessons and classrooms.”
Micro-Learning for big academic gains
One statistic used frequently as an explanation for why microlearning is increasing in popularity maintains the attention spans of humans have decreased substantially to the point that a goldfish is capable of longer periods of sustained focus than the average person.
This entire myth is propagated on a study completed by Microsoft Canada in which the researchers quoted a statistic from another source. The original source provides no evidence to support the assertion.
A more robust rationale in support of micro-learning is the Forgetting Curve. This theory put forth by Hermann Ebbinghaus shows people forget what they have learned if it is not reviewed.
California State University Bakersfield offered an explanation of how reviewing material in short blocks of 2 to 10 minutes over the course of several days can improve retention. This most accurately reflects the power of micro-learning.
Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com, offered this insight: “Micro-lessons break concepts into short, digestible chunks. It helps reinforce concepts when at home and helps teachers emphasize concept taught in class.” He further predicts micro-learning via video will be the next big trend in education.
The human factor won’t go away, though. One of the big keys in online learning is the relationship between the student and the instructor, according to the journal Computers and Education.
Mobile opportunities for eLearning
The most recent report from the Pew Research Center on the adoption of mobile technology illustrates the power of the platform.
- 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone
- 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone
- 92 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 own a smartphone
- 88 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 30 and 49 own a smartphone
The report also noted as of 2011 the total number of people who owned a smartphone was only 35 percent. This represents a dramatic increase in the adoption of the technology.
In great part, it is due to this accelerated adoption of the technology that mobile learning opportunities are becoming more prevalent. Independent app developers have rushed to fill a need in the industry with educational resources such as test prep, language learning, and study aids.
K-12 and higher education institutions are beginning to recognize this as an opportunity and are beginning to devote more resources into implementing their own mobile learning opportunities.
A recent study published by the International Journal of Higher Education examined the effect of mobile learning on student achievement. The study concluded the net effect was positive for students as well as teachers. The authors discussed the ability of mobile learning to remove obstacles associated with time and place.
Mobile eLearning provides students with the ability to access course resources and assignments from anywhere at any time. It provides teachers with the ability to upload course materials, assign work, moderate discussions, and receive assignments electronically. The study notes the implementation of this type of framework requires careful engineering to ensure it works effectively across platforms.
The bottom line: eLearning will continue to be a rapidly expanding field with trends that change as quickly as the technology which supports them.