Educational systems are undergoing the transformation which should lead to a close alliance with technology and quality improvements in teaching and learning. We expect that online education will use the benefits of the technology advances and new teaching and learning methodologies to make learning more accessible, personalized, and engaging.
I am hoping that educational reforms undertaken by many countries will not stop in the middle of the transformation and will be able to address major issues related to teaching and learning of the 21st century. If educational reforms will be successfully implemented, we are going to have a generation of learners which is creative, active, capable to make decisions, responsible, and intelligent.
Online education is not exempted from the transformation and implementation of new teaching and learning methodologies. It equally applies to content design, assessment strategies, and teaching methods.
The growth of online learning and training industry presents new challenges for educational institutions because of the necessity to expand their pedagogical expertise. The future of online learning depends on the implementation of innovative teaching and learning strategies, and the quality of the course content.
Moving towards Global Transparency and Accountability
The transformation of online education and training is driven by two factors: Global Transparency and Accountability of educational institutions.
Online education and training is a true implementation of education without borders. Learners from around the world are joining courses and programs offered by online providers without concerns regarding its geographical locations. I have taken several online courses and I can’t say for sure from which place on the globe these courses were running.
Because of the global nature of online education, there is an urgent need for a universal standard of course quality. We all know that academic quality differs from one institution to another. The international regulations for quality and consistency in online education might enhance institutional accountability for the online course delivery.
This will require educational institutions to implement tools which can enable the transparency of academic processes. Sharing academic analytical information and assessment strategies will be necessary for assessing the quality of courses.
Making personalized learning a priority
New pedagogical approaches in online education must provide opportunities for personalized learning which means that the learning process of each individual student will be driven by his abilities, learning preferences, and techniques. Such approach guarantees learners progress at his own pace and it will increase the overall satisfaction with the learning experiences.
Online learning and training are moving away from the one-content-for-all approach. The adjustment of the learning content based on learner’s profile is possible if instructors are equipped with intelligent analytical and monitoring tools. These tools collect data about learners’ progressions through the course and provide recommendations regarding the optimization of the content and style of delivery. These tools can identify the situations when a learner is falling behind and is not coping with the content, and it might require instructor’s help to overcome such learning hurdles.
The Value of Educators
One of the most important factors impacting student success is the instructor. Some people still think that with advances in online education, teaching profession will start disappearing together with hundreds of other jobs affected by technology intervention. In reality, technology will not replace the teacher – it will equip teachers and instructors with effective tools which will help to better engage and teach students.
The changes will be applied to the teaching methods and use of technology. Online teaching approaches will be based on the application of knowledge to real-life problems and collaboration with virtual peers. New assessment tools and academic analytics will help instructors to achieve higher quality standards.
Since online education is evolving into a personalized, consumer-driven model of learning, the teaching job will change as well. Experience in teaching and course design will not be sufficient to achieve the success. Online teaching encompasses advanced technology skills, excellent communication skills, collaboration, management, and analytical skills.
Instructors and teachers will become learning experience managers and they need to understand and use analytics to support personalization. New analytical tools will have artificial intelligence features and educators should know how to apply them to achieve the optimal learning result. I foresee that special programs need to be developed to train future educators which will develop skills needed in modern education and change the perception about learning and learners.
Learning through collaboration
Evolution of online learning is supported by new developments in cognitive sciences. Modern learning science admits that the process of learning consists of series of interactions between people and interactions with different resources in the environment. Based on this approach, students learn better when they collaborate, share, and discuss ideas, test and adjust developed models, and articulate their knowledge and experiences.
Another important feature of modern learning science is that it acknowledges the value and importance of technology and its role in supporting collaboration between virtual participants. The tools that support student-to-student and teacher-to-student collaboration are available already and they are making an impact on teaching and learning approaches such as video-conferencing, blogs, discussion forums, social networking platforms, and e-resources.
Delivery of online courses is driven by learning management systems (LMSs), and it means that collaboration tools should be embedded in LMSs to create true platforms for collaborative online learning and to offer students accessible and flexible learning environment.
To address learning preferences of Millennials, new learning methodology called immersive learning is becoming more common and effective. This new methodology is based on technological advances and focuses not only on the content of material but also on learning experiences. Immersive learning solves the problem of distraction during the learning process, implements microlearning approach, and offers engaging learning opportunities through collaboration and practice.
Several learning platforms have been built using immersive learning methodology to drive and measure learning, to inspire learners and deliver the effective result.
Technology is driving the transformation of education and its impact continues to grow. The effective combination of pedagogical sciences with technology innovations helps to create learning experiences that lead to the development of industry-specific professional skills and technology skills which have high importance in the job market. By creating the modern framework for online learning and employing modern technologies for course delivery, education institutions can improve significantly the quality of online courses and programs across the globe.