E-learning & EdTech: The Path to the Future
E-learning is the most dynamically evolving part of the education industry, and EdTech is what makes it possible. Due to technology advances, modern educators are able to expand their inventory far beyond texts and images and include into the mix the things like videos, interactive simulations, flipped classrooms, serious games and social learning through collaborating on the project. The advancement of technology introduces even more features, like AR/VR, personalized and adaptive learning, bite-sized instruction built with the mobile-first approach in mind. Learn how E-learning & EdTech carve the path into the future together.
What are E-learning and EdTech?
In order to describe how E-learning and EdTech affect modern education, we have to first talk about what these terms actually mean.
E-learning is the process of delivering instructional materials through the online medium, where the learners have access to the content anytime, anywhere, through a variety of devices. This allows the educators deliver learning to massive audiences, thus such courses are called MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses.
EdTech is the cumulative definition of any education startup and their products aimed at enhancing and improving the educational process. This involves software development to support and improve the features like mobile learning, course personalization, adaptivity and enhancement with virtual and artificial reality, chatbots, machine learning, etc.
Thus said, many Silicon Valley startups engage in software development for E-learning & EdTech, as this is a rapidly growing and highly profitable industry, with more than $30 billion projected income in 2017.
Introducing more technology into the classroom and distance education makes the life easier for both the educators and their students. The learners have access to first-class E-learning from the Ivy League and other universities worldwide due to the platforms like Moodle, Coursera, and Open edX. The educators, in turn, can utilize a much broader range of tools to deliver value to their students and generate profit due to paid certificates.
The main requirement of modern education is developing the 4 C’s in students:
- Critical thinking
These skills are the basis that will help the learners thrive in the world of the 21st century. Introduction of learning these skills to the school curriculum is impossible without a deep reorganization of the whole learning process.
Let’s take a look at the classical approach to education. The teacher is simply providing a written and illustrated content and covering the main topics in the classroom with practicing the knowledge and skills taught during the practical lessons and by assigning homework. The levels of topic comprehension are later assessed during the exam, which merely shows the approximate percentage of the knowledge a student retained after finishing the course.
The education based on 4 C’s is a whole other thing. The students are presented with a problem (or phenomena), which often crosses the boundaries of standard school subjects or college disciplines. Due to introducing E-Learning technology, the classroom is flipped, meaning it becomes a place of active study, instead of passive consumption of knowledge. In addition, the classrooms are equipped with wall screens, projectors, tablets, and laptops to provide more efficient tools for knowledge delivery.
The students explore the material on their own, from their computers, laptops or mobile devices and discuss the content using discussion boards, forums or integration with social media, thus practicing communication, informal and social learning.
Explaining the content and their opinion of it to other learners, along with helping them better understand the material should the need arise, helps practice the collaboration skills.
In the classroom, the students share their opinions, insights, and conclusions on the problem discussed, thus actively using and developing the problem-solving and creativity skills.
Discussing the solutions proposed to the problem, analyzing the outcome of the session and forming strong understanding and opinion of the problem — all of this counts towards developing critical thinking.
Standard exams do not work with 4 C’s, so the student’s progress should be assessed and evaluated through the level of their engagement and the ability to reproduce and explain the topics covered.
Such approach is called the PBL — Problem (or Phenomena)-Based Learning. Finland, already having one of the world’s best educational systems, approved a governmental strategy for implementing PBL in every school till 2020. In 2013, President Obama has launched the ConnectEd program, aimed to enhance K-12 education in the US. Apple joined the cause and as of 2016 has donated around $100 million in hardware and software to schools across the US, along with developing a specialized Classroom 2.0 app to deliver the best educational outcomes. The other countries worldwide are sure to follow this course if they do not want to fall behind.
There are hundreds of millions of registered learners on MOOC platforms like Khan Academy, Moodle, Coursera, Open edX, Udemy, Udacity, Sakai and many others. Millennials are the dominating generation nowadays and the education should transform to meet their learning demands. A plethora of education startups are introduced daily and the market does not show any sign of saturating the demand or slowing down.
High-quality software development for startups engaged in E-learning is essential. It ensures the ever increasing level of interest from investors and promises great revenues in the future. Therefore, the most important component on a way to succeeding for any education startup is providing a product that solves the customer’s pain, delivers a lasting positive experience and builds loyalty. How can a startup deliver such a product? This is a topic for another article, which is coming soon.
Share your thoughts on the role of E-learning and EdTech. What do you think of the perspectives? Did you have any experience with projects in this industry or do you have a bright idea that can become a new? Please let us know!