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Technology and the Future of Online Learning

As online learning continues to grow, gamification and simulation are among some of the tools that educators can employ to help students achieve their educational goals.

The shift toward online learning has already begun: the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that, by 2025, 40% of all higher education students will be enrolled in an online program. As online learning is evolving, technologies like gamification, adaptive learning, virtual reality, collaborative tools, and simulation are poised to advance student engagement and success.

The Evolution of E-Learning

The field of e-learning has evolved rapidly in recent years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to a Global E-Learning Market Forecast report published on January 29th, 2016, the global e-learning market is expected to grow from $73 billion in 2015 to $175 billion by 2020.

Students and entrepreneurs alike are taking advantage of the explosive growth in e-learning technology through MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. These courses are facilitated by companies such as Coursera and edX and offer a variety of topics for the taking. While these resources can be very beneficial, many students have difficulty staying engaged with the material presented online. As a result, many students have turned to technologies such as gamification to enhance their online learning experience.

What’s Driving This Trend?

Online learning provides an opportunity for students and professionals to acquire new knowledge and skills without traveling outside their local communities. It also provides an opportunity for lifelong learners who may not be able to commit to full-time degree programs or traditional colleges and universities.

The Role of Technology in Learning.

Technology has been around since the beginning of time. In fact, without it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article right now. Technology has come a long way in just the past few decades. Computers have become faster and more powerful than ever before, and they’re now taking over nearly every aspect of life. Unfortunately, many people think that technology has no place in education. They feel that students should learn by having conversations with their teachers and that computers are unnecessary distractions from the real purpose of education: learning how to learn.

Technology is also playing a key role in changing how we learn. For years, we’ve been watching as education technology (or ed tech) firms introduce new technologies that claim to deliver better educational outcomes for less money. However, we’re entering an era where these technologies are beginning to come together and actually make a difference in student achievement and engagement.

Key Areas Where Technology Can Improve Learning.

As technology continues to change our daily lives, the way we learn and use information is also changing. With this in mind, students need to understand how technology and their skills can be a powerful tool to become successful and productive members of society. I have recently been exploring the role of technology in education through online learning.

There are five key areas where these technologies can make a difference:

Simulation Technology

Simulation allows students to practice skills in a virtual setting. This technology gives students the ability to “try before they buy”; for example, if you have a fear of public speaking, you can practice your speech in a simulation environment until you feel comfortable delivering it in front of a live audience. Simulation technology also provides the opportunity for students to engage in role-playing exercises around sensitive issues such as racism and gender bias.

Online tutors like tutors Atlanta also have the opportunity to create role-play simulations where students are able to practice their social skills on hand rather than through role-play exercises. By incorporating real-time interactions that use avatars with varying facial expressions and body language, students develop their social skills and are able to interact with others more effectively in the future. These interactions can also allow the tutor to observe the student’s communication style, which will allow them to work towards improving it as needed.

Gamification

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage learners. While gamification was once used mainly for eLearning courses, it has evolved into a powerful methodology that can be used to motivate traditional classroom learners. Research shows that gamification can help increase motivation and engagement among learners, particularly those who typically struggle with the process of learning.

Use of Collaborative Tools

Collaboration tools allow online learners to interact with one another, fostering peer-to-peer learning. Online education is being revolutionized through the use of collaborative tools. Collaboration allows students to interact in real-time and make comments or take notes on what they see. This can be used for group discussions or for a trainer or teacher to present with a live chat or video feed. This technology enhances the learning process because it enables multiple students to learn from one another. Students can also use tools such as screen capture software to record their screens during training, allowing them to review the material later.

Virtual Reality

In addition to the use of VR for gaming and entertainment, VR is also being used for educational purposes. Teachers can use VR to create a more immersive environment for their students. This allows them to teach concepts in ways that were not previously possible. It makes harder things easier – with the ability to ‘blind’ students to things they should be learning about in class, virtual reality will make complex subjects much easier to grasp. Like, if you’re studying evolution in biology class, you could put on your headset and be transported into a full-scale prehistoric jungle. You’ll see dinosaurs wandering around, and you’ll have to learn how to avoid them while searching for food. It’s a much more effective way of learning than just reading about it from a textbook or sitting through a lecture.

Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning creates a customized learning experience based on a person’s individual growth needs. The approach allows learners to progress at their own pace, ensuring they have mastered skills before proceeding to more advanced material. By adapting to each student’s progress, adaptive learning can create a meaningful connection between theory and practice — something that is critical for success in today’s digital workplace.

Takeaway

Technology has a hand in massively impacting our lives every day, through both large and small impacts. Through virtual reality, students will have the ability to do things they could not before, such as touring monuments and traveling the world. Students can learn science concepts in new ways by placing relevant animals and plants around them through augmented reality. And with gamification, teachers can help students overcome issues of online distractions with badges and points, and other prizes. In short, virtual reality’s impact is only just beginning – but when we start to see how it will eventually alter the education system we are currently used to, we’ll be grateful for the time spent today getting ready for tomorrow.

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