Digital Learning Technology: How Will Technology Transform Digital Learning In The Next Decades?

Digital Learning Technology: How Will Technology Transform Digital Learning In The Next Decades?
Summary: In this article I will cover the main technological trends in digital learning today and the concerns eLearning providers should explore further about how technological advances will shape digital learning environments in the future.

How Digital Learning Technology Will Change In The Next Decades

Let us first see what digital learning technology is offering right now. Some of the advantages of digital learning at the moment are:

  • Easy access and ability to adapt to user’s preferences.
  • No location or time constraints.
  • Multimedia resources and interactive environment.
  • Users are part of virtual communities.
  • Learning material constantly updated.
  • Limited socio-economic status constrains.

Digital learning is constantly transformed due to technological advances and eLearning providers are always on the look for new tools that would improve or supplement their end product. For example, social media are extensively used to support the eLearning process. Facebook is probably the leader in this category and can be used for uploading articles, offering additional resources, and stimulating interaction.

What Next Is Coming?

We can surely expect more technological innovations implemented on digital learning environments in the following years. Some emerging technological trends are:

1. The disappearance of computers.
Computers used to be the main device for accessing the internet, but tablets and smart gadgets are taking the lead. Nowadays people use a variety of mobile devices, depending on where they are and what they are doing. Portability and easy access have become crucial factors for internet users.

Following this trend, according to DigitalTondo,

…in the future computers will be embedded invisibly into the Web of Things, into no-touch interfaces and into our daily lives. While we’ve long left behind loading disks into slots to get our computers to work and become used to software as a service, hardware as a service is right around the corner.

2. Cloud-based learning.
Cloud-based learning refers to learning online while data are stored in the cloud. Learning resources are virtually available and can be accessed by multiple digital devices. Benefits of having a cloud-based learning system are:

  • Less costs for customer support, software installations, and data management.
  • Less time for set up, system updates, and technological maintenance.
  • Flexible learning on the go and by all internet enabled devices.
  • Vast space to capture and store data.

The main concern raised regarding cloud-based learning is the security risk. eLearning providers will have to choose between hosting and managing their own virtual platform and using an external provider. In the second case, a thorough understanding of the provider’s terms, conditions, and policies is paramount to ensure an unhindered business operation.

3. Increased emphasis on digital portfolios.
Digital portfolios are online data collections that users can store, edit, and download, and these collections can include various formats as text, multimedia, and links. Such portfolios can be used for not only keeping learning records, but also building digital profiles, analyzing learning data, and as a tool for managing learning communities.

According to Edutopia:

Students will increasingly use digital portfolios to demonstrate their skills and knowledge as they apply for college and jobs. What's more, these digital portfolios will serve as platforms for collaboration and feedback from members of their communities. Looking to 2020, digital portfolios accessible from multiple devices will make it easier for students to demonstrate real-world skills and knowledge, and will serve as a stronger link to their next steps professionally and educationally.

4. Gamification.
Gamification of learning refers mainly to the application of video game design principles in learning environments. The goal is to motivate and engage learners via using the same elements that make video game environments challenging and enjoyable. This can be achieved by, for example, increasing the feeling of self-achievement via launching a competition with a winner prize.

According to LinkedIn Pulse:

The Gamification in eLearning software and application market is expected to reach $319 billion by 2020 with a CAGR of 58.3% that will be equivalent to 75% of global eLearning market by 2020. This projection includes gamified software, application and related solution for eLearning industry. Regarding platform, mobile and tablet will lead by 2020.

Future Concerns

  1. The access gap.
    Some people may not have the most technologically advanced devices or the latest software versions that can support such activities. The point is to make learning easier and engaging, not to make it more “distant”. Businesses should research what can easily be accessed by the majority of their learners.
  2. The understanding gap.
    Some people may not really know how to use this kind of technology and how to benefit from it. Furthermore, eLearning providers themselves may become overwhelmed by the abundance of options and will need to be open to change. They should select the technology that fits their business and learning goals before offering it to their learners.
  3. The culture gap.
    People coming from different parts of the world learn and interact in different ways. Digital learning providers will have to monitor these patterns and probably adapt their environment per target audience. Social media can be used as ice-breakers and for community building purposes.