How edtech makes learning more accessible

The traditional academic world is transforming, with advances in technology and changing student expectations opening doors to new ways of learning and engaging with course materials.

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If students nowadays are used to consuming books and television programmes through mobile devices and apps then surely it makes sense for them to interact with their academic content in the same way? Not only does it give them instant access whenever and wherever they may be, but it offers them the flexibility to learn in the way that is personal to them.

Mobile learning apps and devices such as tablets are being trialled at universities across the country, allowing students to access key course textbooks and information anytime, anywhere. The rise of edtech means that students no longer need to carry around heavy books to lectures and instead can now make notes and highlight important sections of text all directly from their tablet.

Edtech can increase accessibility, engagement and interactivity, however at present only a handful of pioneering universities have really embraced it. As we welcome the next generation of digital learners it makes sense for educators to meet the changing needs of these students whether they’re on campus or on the other side of the world.

Improving access to learning

When used properly, an education technology platform that hosts and enables access to learning materials can increase the potential for the free-flow of information by helping to facilitate independent learning. This not only enhances a student’s learning experience, but can also encourage participatory behaviour and collaboration.

Essentially, students are encouraged to be less passive and more engaged and proactive in their learning process. For instance, students are empowered to source their own reading materials and demonstrate their own independent thinking as a result of wider reading. The platform and tools can then provide real efficiencies and productivity in how they can seamlessly move through all their content, take notes, book mark and create citations to use parts of the content in their own papers and dissertations.

The way in which learning materials are shared can also help to encourage interaction, as breaking up content into smaller chunks of information can allow a deeper understanding of the course content and enable focus on specific ‘learning objects’. Mixing up more traditional lectures with more peer-to-peer learning can also help to build relationships and break down the barriers of communication between lecturers and students.

Global accessibility

The introduction of digital textbooks and learning platforms is swiftly gaining momentum globally. Not only for students based on university campuses, but also for those who study distance learning courses and work remotely.

Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria, has become the first university in West Africa to adopt a university-wide digital learning platform and e-textbook scheme to help improve course results and give students equal learning opportunities. More Universities in Nigeria are coming up too to adopt digital learning.

The future of accessibility

In order to ensure future generations are as well-equipped as possible, educational institutions need to continue adapting and accepting the introduction of new technologies. Engaging with students in an innovative way so they can easily understand and digest information is key to encouraging active participation and independent learning. This in turn, provides a much more rewarding environment for both students and teachers.

The academic market for learning is rapidly evolving towards a digital future and students expect to be immersed in an enriching, collaborative and most importantly, more accessible environment.

This article first appeared on Edtechnology.co.uk

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