Making eLearning Less Awful
I love technology and I am passionate about learning. I think the two make a powerful combination. Technology has a lot to offer the world of education.
Unfortunately many eLearning products are awful.
Why do I say that? It’s not because of a lack of progress or a lack of potential.
Indeed it’s exactly because there is so much potential with educational technology that I make such a statement. Currently, educational technology does not provide a sufficiently integrated experience. It is not sufficiently intuitive for the teacher or the student. Generally, educational technology applications do not consider how they complement the face to face interactions that already take place, which are so important for learning outcomes.
The good news, however, is that a shift is occurring. I believe we are starting to reach an important tipping point: where educational technology in the classroom can actually start saving a teacher time, rather than adding to their workload.
Why is this important? Because until educational technology can help teacher’s save time, it creates too much of an overhead to be utilized on a widespread basis. Sure, there are many examples of passionate and dedicated teachers creating amazing educational experiences using eLearning and other technology tools. But widespread adoption is constrained until educational technology actually starts making life easier for the teacher.
And I think we are reaching that point.
Hardware has reached that point. Think about computing today, compared to the past. Computers no longer require extensive training to help student’s become familiar with them. Technology is more intuitive, and recent generations are digital natives. Students can use an iPad or laptop in their sleep.
The applications that run on this hardware are also becoming more intuitive. Gone are the days where a ‘learning management system’ could only serve as a glorified document or file repository.
And, importantly, eLearning product managers are starting to understand that their tools only provide part of the answer. They are looking at how these products can integrate with other technologies, and better interface with how school teachers and university lecturers teach.
The aim of eLearning tools should not be to replace teachers, and should not have an endless drive to 'migrate students to the cloud'. These eLearning products and applications should be designed to complement, and improve the delivery, assessment and business of education.
If you’re involved in these education functions then you should be excited. There is a growing wave of educational technology that will help improve learning and education outcomes and provide new, creative ways to teach.
If you’re involved in eLearning technology, then you have the opportunity to shape your solutions to fit this modern world.
The best eLearning solutions provide an integrated experience. They connect the dots with the other systems and applications within the school. They are intuitive for both the teacher and student, and they make it easy (and quick) for each user to do the tasks that matter to them. And, importantly, the best eLearning solutions complement the face to face interactions that already take place in and out of the classroom.
In the next few years there will be more options in the market that deliver on the promise of eLearning. We should then see better quality and access to education. And the possibilities that stem from that are truly exciting.