As online education is becoming all-pervasive, there is a lot of buzz around EdTech and how it can help solve many of tomorrow’s teaching problems. But at the end, it is a student’s perspective that matters most as the students are the most critical variable in the equation. It is essential that we give a thought to the students and what would they like to see in a technology-enabled learning environment.
Mobile learning is now mainstream
While K-12 education remained class-oriented till before Covid19, students from higher-class had moved on to increasing reliability on mobile learning. According to a LearnDash survey, 70% students felt more motivated when they used mobile-based learning solutions. Now, with even K12 schools shifting to home in a large part of the world, mobile is the preferred device for consuming educational content.
Apart from the instant, ubiquitous availability, mobile has proven to be a better form factor for other factors that the students want from the tech-enabled remote learning solutions.
But offline capabilities are sought after too
A research on “Students’ perception on e-learning: a basis for the development of elearning framework in higher education institutions” suggests that despite internet penetration and availability of the easy connectivity, students prefer to have offline capabilities too. This is especially true for video content. A plethora of reasons lead to this requirement, including connectivity when the students want to consume the content. That’s the almost all the OTT video content providers (including Netflix and Amazon Prime) offer offline capabilities in large part of the world.
Declining adoption of self-paced learning
While the eLearning industry is expected to achieve a total market value of $325 billion, from $107 billion in 2015. This is staggering growth. But there is an interesting undercurrent that would surprise many. The rate of adoption for self-paced learning is declining.
Yes, the model made popular by the advent of MOOCs is slowly becoming less popular. This is becoming evident by the increasing number of students who leave the courses mid-way. The revenues of self-paced learning providers is expected to fall by 6.1% by 2021.
But this doesn’t mean students are completely rejecting the on-demand availability. They still need it. But not as a single option. They need it as an additional feature, not the sole one.
To summarise the three points above, today’s learner;
- Want mobility even when it comes to learning.
- While internet is generally available, they don’t want to be constrained by lack of it to learn.
- They value the flexibility of self-paced learning, but they also value real-time, humane interactions.
Engagement is driving the shift
The primary reason for this shift is the lack of engagement in traditional self-paced learning model.
It usually follows one-to-many, uni-directional delivery of learning, which reduces the engagement and stickiness both. It becomes difficult for students to remain engaged with what is being taught since it is a non-participative environment. The lack of engagement makes it difficult for students to continuously come back to learn and complete entire courses.
It is not that educators and trainers have not tried to induce the engagement. Pop-up quizes and small tests. However, they feel very insignificant, There are peer-graded assignments as well. The problem is that they don’t form the part of regular learning flow. Students have to consciously chose them. And still, they are inadequate.
Feedback is paramount
The real learning happens through feedback. While even the classroom learning had periodic examinations to check level of progress. But they also have quick questions and answers happening every now and then.
But the real test of learning comes when it is implemented. Unless you are able to apply what you have learnt, you won’t get the real feedback. As the tech-enabled remote learning become more pervasive, the need for feedback will be more acute.
For narrative and subjective assessment, the current eLearning solutions do not have adequate means to disseminate such a feedback. Usually, this feedback will need to be given one-on-one to each student, as every individual’s needs will be unique. The learning solutions for tomorrow will need to address this issue primarily.
Collaboration is the key
A lot of classroom learning also happens through osmotic communication. Easy conversations around the learnings can help students understand topics better, since peers can explain in the terms that resonate with them. While osmotic communication might not be possible in remote environment, other forms of collaboration must be made available to the students.
How does this translate into practice?
The learning for tomorrow is expected to drive not only skills development, but behavioural changes as well. Having a simplified, single-pronged approach for delivery does not augur well for this objective. It also does not do justice to the technology capabilities we have today. The learning solutions for tomorrow will need to adopt a blend of formal and structured learning, collaborative, social learning, as well as project-based, outcome-based learning. In addition to this blend, delivery of micro-learning pieces will assume significance, at it will facilitate personalization.
Putting these capabilities in your learning solutions is pragmatically possible today. All you need is a strategy that can put various technological pieces together and create a unified yet flexible platform for you.
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