Educational technology (EdTech) is changing the very way that people learn. Now, with the software and hardware of today, it’s possible to e-learn virtually anything. Students can learn new languages, math, history – anything they want through eLearning.
Educational institutions and schools are also offering the option of taking entire semesters and courses online.
If a student wants, they can earn their degree online without stepping foot on campus. The boom in eLearning is fueling the homeschool movement, too.
But what is this technology?
Let's find out.
» What is Educational Technology?
Many students, parents, and teachers have heard of the term “educational technology” before, but they really don't know what the term means. EdTech can be defined as ways to facilitate learning and improve performance by doing a few things:
- Creating technological processes
- Using technological processes
- Managing these processes
In short, when learning transitions from book learning to virtual learning, it is now EdTech. The way in which the subject matter is delivered will vary greatly, and this, for many people, is what EdTech is all about.
EdTech as a whole relies on the changing and innovative technologies that are emerging across the world.
› State of eLearning
eLearning is often associated with students, those at the university level or lower, but this isn’t always the case. We see a lot of EdTech pop up in the professional world as a way to train employees. More and more companies use eLearning as a powerful tool for remote education.
eLearning allows professionals to advance their education without having to commit to classroom training.
Nurses are being trained in online safety classes to improve the safety of patients without the need for nurses to attend physical classes. In the field, where nurses are overworked, allowing for virtual training:
- Improves attendance
- Is less stressful
- Requires less time for nurses
Studies on the growth of eLearning and access to eLearning show that the trend is rising in popularity. EDUcause released a lengthy report that shows eLearning is being driven by non-traditional learners that want a way to learn without the restrictions of a physical classroom.
From a business standpoint, it was found that eLearning could help educational institutions:
- Increase enrollment
- Boost revenue
But access to the technology and the Internet remain a hurdle, especially in rural areas where Internet access is often sparse.
Multiple key finds were noted in the report, including:
- Major institutions have great interest in eLearning to help students.
- Over 80% of institutions at the time offered one or more courses online. This figure continues to rise and is also augmented by the fact that there are a lot of non-institutional learning opportunities available.
- Reliability and security remain the two biggest concerns and deciding factors when choosing eLearning platforms and technology.
- Maturity in technology is one of the leading factors for the adoption of eLearning. Multiple factors go into the maturity of eLearning, including training, policies, governing, readiness, investment, and many others.
It's expected that mobile learning will be an $80 billion industry by 2027, and the global eLearning industry has already surpassed the $100 billion mark.
Learners from across the world can begin their studies virtually and take classes from anywhere in the world. Brilliant professors and teachers are accessible in ways that were never possible in the past.
You can learn anything virtually, from cooking to working on automobiles.
› Studies Backing eLearning
Studies and polls show that eLearning may be even more beneficial than offline learning. One study that stands out was conducted by IBM. The company found that online learning techniques led to workers learning 5 times more material than offline methods.
Additionally, eLearning took up 40% to 60% less time for employees compared to traditional learning. It's a cost-effective way to train employees on the latest technologies.
Even retention rates improve with online learning, making it one of the most efficient ways to teach students, employees, and everyday people.
» Technology Brings Changes in Education
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace to allow students to learn in new, innovative ways. Rapid development practices enable software developers and startups to offer on-the-go learning environments to students across the world.
Changes in education are growing out of these new technologies, including:
› Blended Learning
Advancements in technology, EdTech, and online learning platforms have allowed schools to offer blended learning. With blended learning, students enjoy a mixture of in-classroom learning and online learning.
In addition to keeping learners engaged, it also gives students more freedom and flexibility with their schedules. Having control over your learning environment increases your chances of success. Not everyone performs well in a classroom environment. Anxiety, peer pressure, and other factors can distract students and keep them from learning.
With blended learning, students enjoy in-person socialization as well as the autonomy and freedom of virtual learning. They get the best of both worlds, and this can help them succeed later in life.
› Train Virtually for Anything
eLearning makes it possible to train virtually for just about anything. Many schools, industries, and companies now accept online certifications and courses as proof of expertise and knowledge in key subjects.
Through eLearning, students can explore a wide range of subjects and study just about anything they want. As long as you have an internet connection, you can take a course on any subject you want to learn.
Students can earn certificates of completion for individual courses, which can give them an edge in the professional world. Additionally, online-based colleges are also gaining more wide-stream acceptance. Earning a degree through a virtual classroom is becoming increasingly common and no longer has a stigma attached.
Many businesses are using EdTech to help train their employees, particularly through video-based content.
Technology has made it easier than ever for people to stay connected, which can be very beneficial in the education world. With the touch of a button, students and teachers can connect to discuss subjects, share their opinions and collaborate on projects.
In a traditional classroom setting, teachers spend the majority of the time speaking to students. Students can engage in discussion with their peers and the teacher through online discussion boards with online learning.
Not only does this help students and teachers feel more connected, but it also helps improve the students’ interpersonal skills. Students can discuss subjects, provide constructive feedback, and generally stay more connected to each other.
› Video-assisted Learning
Visual content is more engaging than textual content. Some students excel with textbook learning, but many will require more than just reading to grasp and understand a subject.
Video-assisted learning brings concepts to life and keeps students engaged.
In distance learning situations, video-based learning is the foundation of the learning platform. They enrich lessons, explain subjects and allow students to see the concepts with their own eyes.
Whether it’s science, history, literature, or something in between, video lessons have a place in every subject.
And thanks to advancements in technology, teachers no longer have to wheel in televisions on carts. Videos can be streamed from virtually any internet-connected device, making it easier than ever to watch videos in the classroom.
Another great advantage of video lessons is that it reduces the teacher’s workload. Teachers have a full plate as-is, so easing the burden can help them focus on other tasks without harming the students’ education.
› Learning at a Student’s Own Pace
One of the most significant advantages of eLearning and EdTech is that students can learn at their own pace. Some students learn at a faster or slower pace than others.
With technology, students can go over lessons more than once to better absorb the information.
› Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is now making its way into the education sector, and it’s making a big impression. While AI won’t necessarily replace teachers, it can act as an assistant to help students when necessary.
AI can save time and help students learn more effectively. For example, teachers can use AI to automate basic tasks, such as grading. Whether quizzes and assignments use multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions, advancements in AI have made it possible to automate the grading process.
Teachers spend an estimated 95 minutes per day grading papers and preparing classroom lessons. Being able to automate grading will give teachers more time to focus on other things and plan more engaging lessons.
For students, AI can prove to be a valuable tool in improving learning. When students don’t understand a subject or concept, they either have to hire a tutor or rely on teachers to help them after school hours.
AI tutors can help students make sense of subjects they may be struggling with. The great thing about AI tutors is that they’re available 24/7. Students can access them whenever they need, and during times when it’s most convenient for them.
› Learning Analytics and Insight
Learning analytics is the process of measuring and reporting student progress online. In higher education especially, learning analytics has greatly expanded. When students can view their progress online – anytime, anywhere – it's much easier for them to understand where they’re at and how to better optimize their learning.
Learning analytics does more than just benefit students. It also benefits teachers. When teachers can view the individual progress of students, they can provide them with valuable feedback and better help them understand their best ways to learn.
For example, teachers can see what type of information the students enjoy and use most often in their lessons. At the same time, teachers can also see what types of information are least engaging for students and improve on these areas to help make the lessons more effective.
In addition to understanding what’s working and what isn’t, teachers can use analytics information to identify students who may have behavioral or academic challenges. Armed with this information, teachers can help these students find ways to reach their full potential.
› Gamification of Learning
Games appeal to people of all ages. Why? Because they’re fun. Gamification is now being used in educational settings because it helps students learn in an engaging way.
Gamification is particularly helpful in challenging subjects because it motivates students and helps them feel more immersed in the subject material.
Incorporating game-design elements into learning material, like setting goals and rewarding achievements keeps students motivated. Other game-based features in learning can include:
- Peer competitions
- Point scoring
- Leader boards
- Using checkpoints, levels, and other progression markers
Gamification has many benefits, and it’s an effective way to keep students engaged and retain what they learn.
New technologies make it easier than ever to incorporate game-design elements into physical and virtual classrooms. While gamification is most popular in K-12 education, you can also find many college-level courses and online learning platforms adding these elements to keep students engaged.
Technology has changed virtually every aspect of our lives, and that includes education. eLearning and advancements in EdTech have made education more accessible and engaging than ever.
Author Bio:Alice Bailey
Alice Bailey is a senior business development manager for QAwerk, a full-service software testing service, and QA testing services company. She has over 7 years of experience in her position and spends her free time writing on business management, development, and technology.