How educational technology is revolutionizing learning
At the beginning of 2020, education institutions were preparing for a challenging decade. On the horizon were a looming economic downturn, ever-increasing demand of digital users, shifting student and parent expectations — and, finally, the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, this unprecedented period has had quite the opposite effect on education.
Time has shown that this traditional and seemingly conservative industry is anything but traditional in how it responds to uncertainty. Just imagine: thanks to the rapid adoption of innovative technologies, the demand for some online university courses increased by 4,000%, while some apps saw a 15-fold (not 15%!) increase in the number of new downloads. What's more, the US e-learning market is projected to grow by $12.81 billion between 2021 and 2024.
As you see, opportunities are endless. But whether you're a cutting-edge startup or a small school looking to support its learners online, the only way to guarantee that your edtech solution stays competitive is to develop it in line with the latest educational technology trends. To help you successfully hit the market, we assembled a comprehensive list of digital tools and features learners are looking for in 2021 and beyond.
Types of educational software 101
Although LMS and LCMS are quite similar, they are used for slightly different purposes. A learning management system is a learning platform for tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses, but it's not typically used to create content. Any published content is simply stored inside the LMS, and all the content updates or changes are managed outside of the system.
On the other hand, a learning content management system supports the full cycle of content creation and delivery including authoring, publishing, delivery, and measuring its success.
Both solutions can help you optimize your day-to-day operations at colleges, schools, and universities, while giving you the opportunity to create, update, and manage their content safely and efficiently.
Mobile learning solutions
With the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, mobile apps make it possible to easily access the materials on the go, transforming one-time learning into continuous development and boosting user engagement.
For your business, that means an increased fan base and additional revenue streams.
Custom-tailored education portals empower students and educators to optimize scheduling, facilitate student attendance monitoring, speed up grading, generate performance reports, and give access to a variety of digital educational resources such as presentations, videos, podcasts, ebooks, and many more.
Education portals offer specific and very useful features for the overall educational process such as reports and catalogs, a calendar of events, a library of course materials and assessments, etc. — all to make the educational process seamless and automated.
When creating chat rooms or internal apps, you can be sure of their security and personalization. These real-time apps offer instant response capability, meaning they can be useful to improve certain specific administrative areas, such as student inquiries, library services, and student counseling.
Key advantages of educational software
Let's have a closer look at how educational technology improves learning experiences and operational efficiency.
Enhanced collaboration and engagement
Digital tools allow students to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime in various groups and settings; that enhances social-emotional learning and teamwork skills which are so important for better employability and lifelong learning.
Fostering collaboration instead of competition prepares the future workforce for the digital economy, where innovation is underpinned by partnerships and cooperation.
New technologies in education are also applied in corporate training. For example, British startup VirtualSpeech helps develop soft skills and simulates difficult situations – for example, negotiating with a "difficult" client or performing on stage in front of a huge audience.
Online learning tools are easily accessible — one can access course materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's possible to reach out to instructors immediately through chat, discussion thread, or email, without having to wait for office hours.
On top of that, not only do you save time, but you also save money, which can be spent on other vital things.
Any educational process involves a lot of data and paperwork. But while the grading and assessment procedures are one of the most important ones, teachers can spend hours crafting (and then checking) paper-based tests and quizzes. Of course, it takes away time from lesson planning and other student engagement activities.
Computerized testing, in its turn, offers intricate simulation assessments, adaptive testing, immediate feedback, and reduced paperwork. Teachers can also save considerable time on grading tests, while improving accuracy and providing more granular detail in individual student performance.
For example, Quizlet — a free service that makes it easy to memorize any information with the help of special cards — can be used as an assessment tool for teachers. All they need to do is to create their own set of questions — and the platform will automatically create the testing tasks.
Also, 24/7 availability of e-learning apps and platforms means catering to diverse learners. You can learn at your own pace, benefitting from a flexible schedule, which is extremely helpful for those who're balancing education with work and family life or have health issues.
Technological advancements also make it possible to learn from the best in multiple domains. A great example is a streaming platform Masterclass offering education courses for almost any educational need; with the annual subscription, you can learn how to cook from celebrity chefs, practice scenic speech with world-famous actors, and more.
Innovative educational technologies to capitalize on
This one should be a no-brainer for anyone in the education industry. The current generation, and even those preceding it, are gamers. Some would say they are addicted to their Xboxes, Playstations, and mobile gaming apps. You already have a captive audience, so you may as well take advantage of it in the classroom or even in the kindergarten, as a game is a primary way of learning for kids at preschool age.
Gaming in education can range from actual Nintendo-like learning applications to board games such as Scrabble to a rewards program similar to Subway's free sandwich stamp card. By creating a friendly competitive environment, students are more motivated and more engaged.
Utilizing AR can turn an ordinary learning environment into Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by making ordinary objects and subjects come alive. Students can utilize QR technology to scan codes on books or exhibits in museums to learn more. Historical videos or photos can be accessed in order to get a more personalized learning experience than just reading about an event in a textbook.
Plus, augmented reality can teach students that their smartphones can actually be used to make them smarter.
Virtual reality (VR) is also not just for gaming. It's also being utilized in new ways to teach things including history, literature, and even engineering and architecture with the use of 3D modeling. Companies such as Space and Immersive VR Education are already championing VR in schools by offering pre-designed curriculum.
An immersive environment in education combines virtual reality (VR), 3D technology, and gaming in order to give students a truly unique learning experience. As the current generation's attention span continues to wane, immersive educational environments succeed at keeping students engaged for longer periods of time.
Immersive learning helps students not only with memory and retention but also with technical and problem-solving skills while stimulating their creativity. These types of programs can even improve the overall health of students by making them more active in the classroom.
With the dramatic development of AI and ML over the past years, we can develop truly intelligent and adaptive learning approaches.
Ultimately, personalized assessment, targeted content, and real-time operations (for example, A-enabled mechanisms can check our test answers using image recognition) coupled with human coaching enable all students to reach their full potential.
Big data is used mostly in higher education institutions for analytics as digital learning services generate a large amount of data about student behavior, interests, interactions with content, etc. This data can be analyzed in order to receive valuable and accurate insights which will improve educational attainment and increase engagement.
Blockchain is poised to enhance data storage security. Every time new data is added, another "block" appears within the system, so the storage is technically limitless. Simultaneously, the data will be encrypted and distributed across multiple computers, making transacting data decentralized and transparent.
Blockchain can also be used to verify skills and knowledge. The distributed ledger technology that blockchain brings will answer the problems of authentication, scale, and cost for eLearning agencies. Moreover, it can help student applicants publish their accomplishments during the job-seeking phase — faster and easier.
What we've learned so far: Vention expertise in edtech solutions
Our team actively invests in the development of digital education, providing solutions across the entire edtech spectrum, web or mobile, non-profits or otherwise. In case you consider the edtech solution in the future, here are just a couple of our work to inspire your own project.
Our latest project for Kids Academy — a Vention client of over a decade — was to develop the neural network-powered app that serves as their core educational platform. We also integrated Google Classroom, which helped teachers cut down lesson planning by almost 30 percent, track students' performance, and bridge learning gaps faster.
For special education non-profit company Equal Education, we customized and implemented Salesforce to meet their unique needs and built a state-of-the-art record management platform from the ground up.
In the case of Voxy, we stepped in as their migration partners, switching their English-learning platform to the actual Python 3.7 version. The entire process — which encompassed 300,000+ rewritten lines of code and 6,000+ QA tests — was finished in just a couple of weeks. Following the project, Voxy received another round of funding as well as multiple press accolades, including those from The New York Times, Forbes, and CNN.
With all of the new technology being utilized in today's classrooms, you can’t help but wonder, what will the classrooms of future generations look like? Will there even be classrooms or will education be delivered exclusively via remote instructors and virtual reality? Will mobile phones powered by artificial intelligence become our permanent 24/7 "teachers?" That all remains to be seen. The bottom line is that with all of the options available to all of us now, none of us should ever stop learning.
Do you currently have or are looking to create an online learning application similar to the ones discussed in this blog post? Contact our edtech consultants to make your first leap to off-the-charts performance, new business value, and increased profitability.