We all know by now that learning is a life-long process. People are constantly discovering new things, acquiring skills, broadening their knowledge. Of course, learning doesn’t have to be limited to school walls – in the age of innovative tools, it is possible to learn anything, anywhere, anytime. With this change of approach comes a great number of educational resources waiting to be used. Modern technologies have dramatically changed the way we absorb information and led to extensive usage of remote solutions, enabling us to learn new concepts without leaving the house. As most of us use smartphones on a daily basis, powerful online tools have become easily accessible. Indeed, they have started supporting traditional learning at school or even replacing in-house courses and classes to a certain extent.
All of these factors have greatly impacted the educational industry and now, we can observe a rising demand for EdTech solutions improving learning efficiency. The market is expected to grow even further and has witnessed big investments in recent years. EdTech revolution takes both teaching and learning to the next level, enriching educational experience and adjusting to different styles of knowledge absorption. Online learning has accelerated recently and this tendency seems to continue in the future. The variety of Internet resources comes hand in hand with a general trend of personalized learning. People are finally able to explore themes they love in a way that suits them best: via podcasts, e-books, online seminars or conferences, through text or audio content. Educational materials and the way of presenting them may be easily tailored to individual needs.
The EdTech revolution is possible thanks to some must-have elements, such as a drag & drop feature to easily upload new materials in different formats, chats for students to communicate with each other and their teachers, or space for note-taking, just to name a few. But the competition is big and it’s not enough to stay with the basics in the sector that’s developing at a fast pace. What can one do to take their EdTech solution even further and gain ground in the industry?
Effective education is based on well-organized materials, regular learning activities, as well as progress tracking which enables students to observe their development and pick the type of content most suitable for their learning style. EdTech solutions have opened the door to new possibilities of data analysis, as well as data visualization. Presenting information on the custom, readable and user-friendly dashboards allows students to acquire knowledge in a more conscious way. Thus, learners are able to track information, watch their progress, analyze statistics and, as a result, find methods to organize their work properly and improve every day. Since they enable teachers to stay on track of the situation in their classroom, performance dashboards are an amazing tool for educators as well.
Learning Management Systems
Optimizing performance is possible thanks to having all important data in one place, with a clear structure. That’s where an LMS (Learning Management System), software for administration and delivery of various educational materials, comes into place. Thanks to an LMS, different educational resources may be structured and organized into smaller modules, which students and teachers can then access at any time, from anywhere, using their mobile or desktop devices. Apart from just seeing the materials on convenient dashboards, learners can submit assignments, see the grades and communicate with a teacher or other students.
Flexibility in uploading and absorbing content, followed by a structure and order in presenting the results makes an LMS a powerful tool widely used across schools and universities that have already embraced the digital revolution in education.
It can be tailor-made and suited to the needs of particular students, making their learning experience easier and more efficient. Teachers, on the other hand, can enjoy a limited workload and focus on essentials.
Teach ‘n Go dashboard
There are quite a few learning management tools on the market already. An innovative learning dashboard created by Teach ‘n Go combines course management, online learning, class scheduling and group messaging, limiting the time that teachers need to spend on monotonous tasks. Another example of an LMS is StudyBee – a powerful Chrome extension for Google Classroom app, that simplifies the assessment process and makes it more transparent. With this tool, a remote collaboration between teachers and students becomes seamless.
With regard to data analysis and progress monitoring, one shouldn’t forget about the opportunities provided by Machine Learning. When collecting huge amounts of information, it is crucial to present it in a way that is readable and understandable for a recipient, so that they can draw conclusions and plan the next steps. AI tools facilitate data analysis and optimize the learning experience. They also allow teachers to introduce new methods of knowledge-sharing, which are more intuitive for their students. As a result, education is gradually becoming more and more personalized. Students receive content that is based on their previous activities and performance. Teachers, on the other hand, are able to see relevant and real-time data that allow them to better understand students’ flow and support them in their learning journey.
The whole EdTech world has been greatly influenced by Artificial Intelligence tools, which enable students to absorb information in a personalized way. Chatbots are definitely one of the game-changers in this field. First and foremost, they are used as learning assistants that explain new terms or concepts, ask questions, analyze responses and, what’s crucial, provide students with quality feedback. They are able to both teach and assess the progress of a particular person, in order to prepare relevant educational materials for them later on. Students can use virtual assistants to do their research and broaden knowledge about a particular subject in a more engaging way – after all, we are all used to instant messaging via social media, aren’t we?
AI-powered chatbots allow learners to experience a human-like interaction and are quickly becoming a source of instant help, improving the entire learning process.
There are plenty of chatbots supporting education on the market right now. An interesting example of an AI-fuelled tool is Botsify, which enables you to create your own chatbots based on ready-made templates that can be tailored to your specific needs. Cognii, a California-based provider of AI technologies, also has an innovative learning assistant in its arsenal. It engages with learners in a natural conversation and guides them through the learning journey.
Mind you, however, solving queries and giving feedback are not the only things that chatbots do well. They may also serve as AI-fueled recommendation systems optimizing learning experience based on student’s preferences as well as their previous inquiries and performance. The idea itself is already widely used on e-commerce websites, such as Amazon, where users are shown similar products and categories based on their recent search.
With regard to education, the principle is basically the same. Chatbots gather and analyze large volumes of data to find the most relevant suggestions and keep a student engaged. This way, they can recommend topics or resources and filter out anything that is not interesting for a student at the moment. History of questions and responses may also allow chatbots to focus on certain concepts more than on others, thus enabling students to consolidate their knowledge about the most relevant subjects.
Read it Forward’s chatbot for book recommendation
As we’ve already mentioned, in the era of emerging technologies, the process of learning may take place anywhere, anytime – partially thanks to VR/AR solutions. In order to achieve a close-to-real experience, learners can, for instance, participate in lessons via virtual classrooms understood as shared online environments, where teachers and students can work together live, usually through video conferences.
The concept opens doors to plenty of new opportunities for students, going far beyond traditional learning methods. Virtual classrooms can be used for basically any kind of subject – from math or history classes, through politics and economy, to active language learning or even programming with real-time coding features, such as those used in an open-source text editor Brackets. The list of opportunities is truly endless. What’s more, the solution has already proved successful and is currently used by many renowned schools, universities, and training centers as a support for traditional learning.
Virtual classroom created in Vedamo
Why are virtual classrooms so beneficial? To begin with, interaction via video streams or live chats allows students to quickly receive direct and constructive feedback. Then, thanks to the extended use of diverse multimedia, students tend to be more engaged and motivated to actively participate in discussions. Teachers, on the other hand, are able to use various resources to present the content of a lesson in a visually appealing way as virtual classrooms enable them to show the text as well as audio and video materials, images, graphs or diagrams. Thus, the learning experience becomes tailored to different needs and efficient regardless of the pupils’ preferences. Last, but not least, participating in online lessons from a chosen location creates a sense of comfort and safety. Being at home, at their own desks, students feel more confident and express more willingness to be active and show off their creativity.
Of course, for the virtual classroom sessions to work out in the long term, one needs to have a seamless LMS at their disposal to upload materials, organize information, measure performance, and prepare a space for tests or a forum for after-class discussions. Among numerous examples of virtual learning solutions, it’s worth giving a shoutout to WizIQ – an online teaching and training platform, taking virtual lessons to the next level by offering HQ resolution, a state-of-the-art online whiteboard, and integration with your existing LMS. Another interesting name is VEDAMO, a complete solution for managing online educational services, perfectly suited for remote learning.
Virtual trips and online exhibitions
It’s widely known that learning doesn’t have to be limited to a classroom-like space. Emerging technologies like VR and AR allow people to go beyond and look for experiences that have never been available before. Broadening knowledge, cultivating new skills, and visiting fascinating places become much easier when you have access to numerous online resources in the form of virtual trips – which are a perfect way to explore the world (or even the whole universe) without getting off the couch. If you’re a massive fan of outer space, you can choose to go on a guided tour of the Solar System via your PC or mobile phone. If you prefer keeping both feet on the ground, you are free to go on a virtual walk around a charming city with a user-friendly Virtual Tour platform and explore the world’s most famous urban areas.
Apart from visiting bigger, broader locations, VR tools allow us to have fun in close spaces, such as museums, archives or libraries. In order to deepen their knowledge about art and history, many students opt for online exhibitions and discover thousands of renowned pieces from the past in the comfort of their homes. The interactive character of such exhibitions provides people with a real-like, immersive experience, engaging different senses. Virtual tours are available in many well-known museums and galleries, such as the Vatican Museum, the Natural History Museum in London, or Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The visitors can browse through multimedia guides and high-resolution images, listen to the stories, zoom on details, and have a breathtaking cultural experience. It may serve both educational and entertainment purposes - and it’s already been proven that learning through fun may be an effective method of gathering knowledge.
Virtual tour of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington
Going on virtual trips or attending online exhibitions is more and more popular among teachers and constitutes an enriching addition to traditional classes, as well as a nice change from ordinary lectures.
Let’s not forget, though, that these tours may also work wonderfully on their own, outside of school schedules as they enable people at any age to broaden horizons and acquire knowledge about global culture.
VR and AR technologies are amazing tools to improve one’s professional skills as well, both at university and at the workplace. Currently, online training and workshops are thriving and it’s not surprising – they allow people to verify their competencies in practice and better prepare to use them in real-life situations.
Once again, examples are endless. For instance, Virtual Reality technologies enable young doctors and nurses to carry out tests or perform different procedures and surgeries in a risk-free environment with the use of 3D imagery. As a result, medical trainees may acquire in-depth knowledge about human anatomy and use various tools during a simulation, depending on their specialty and interests. How exactly does it work? Using real CT and MR scans, tools like ImmersiveTouch create advanced platforms and 3D models, ensuring out-of-the-box learning in safe conditions, letting doctors explore every nook and cranny of the human body. Their main goal is to guarantee an unobstructed experience that’s not limited by traditional tools and, in the long run, the best level of care available for their future patients.
Similarly, Digital Surgery created an AI-powered cognitive platform called Touch Surgery. It’s dedicated to healthcare professionals and allows them to practice and better understand surgical procedures thanks to a cutting-edge simulator. This way, digital technologies have a real impact on healthcare worldwide.
Medicine isn’t the only domain benefiting from VR-fueled workforce training, though. These innovative solutions are also used by blue-collar employees, such as construction workers, solar modules experts, or heating installation engineers, who want to enhance their professional skills. In this particular case, VR tools completely redefine manual practice and accelerate the learning process. Interplay Learning offers hundreds of hours of exercises and interactive simulations with diverse types of equipment to learn more efficiently. Once again, one of the biggest advantages of this solution is a safe environment, where workers can repeat actions several times without wasting resources and putting themselves at risk. Simulations work both with a VR-headset and a PC, which makes them accessible and easy to use.
Finally, Virtual Reality may be useful in acquiring everyday skills, not necessarily needed at work. Driving simulation is definitely one of the most interesting examples. It allows people to prepare themselves for driving and using different car mechanisms in a comfortable environment of their own home. Learners can practice in real-life situations without worrying about potential injuries or damage to the car. Driving simulators also use AR technologies in order to draw the attention of young drivers to dangerous behaviors on the road, such as distracted driving. This way, they are more aware of potential risks and can perfect their skills in a practical manner.
Having discussed different learning opportunities available to workers or individuals wanting to refine their skills, let’s get back to schools and universities. One of the factors that often discourages students from learning is the complexity of the data to absorb. Dozens of pages filled with definitions, hundreds of historical dates, or foreign words may be overwhelming and demotivating even for the most eager learners. We know that in most cases, a short attention span is to blame – but how to deal with this issue? That’s where microlearning steps in.
This approach, which assumes acquiring small, bite-sized portions of knowledge, allows students to learn gradually, in a way that is structured and less tiring to their brains. According to research, microlearning strategies greatly improve learning efficiency. Learners are more willing to spend 5-10 minutes a day to consume educational content without pressure than to sacrifice half-a-day to learn the whole required material. This method works best with narrow subjects or parts of bigger modules. Above all else, microlearning allows students to systematize their knowledge and regularly revise the material, increasing the chances of memorizing it for longer. This approach can take different forms, such as short videos or small portions of the text (for example summaries of articles or books), but flashcards are definitely the most popular tool.
A traditional take on flashcards
According to the definition, flashcards are small cards with information on both sides, helping in the learning and memorizing process. They come in handy in particular for studying dates, names, events, definitions, or foreign words. Of course, it is possible to prepare flashcards using a piece of paper, but it is much quicker and more effective to have a digital version, allowing a more transparent and structured data presentation, as well as the usage of diverse multimedia.
As the EdTech market is flourishing, there are more and more applications that enable students to prepare their own personalized flashcards. One of them is Quizlet, where learners can access ready-to-use sets or create new flashcards, combining text, images, and sound (through the text-to-speech feature). Playing with various interactive elements and activating different senses allow students to remember the material better and for longer. Another powerful solution was provided by Duolingo. Their Tinycards app, targeted mostly at younger learners, allows them to create their own flashcards as well as benefit from a large database in order to gain knowledge about different domains, such as languages, art, animals or geography.
Microlearning, be it in the form of flashcards or other, provides people with a huge dose of flexibility, which is fundamental in the learning process.
It’s important to remember that this approach is not limited to school or university students. In fact, microlearning practices are widely used in the corporate and business environment. A cutting-edge, mobile app by TalentCards is a great example. This training platform was built specifically for workers, supporting them in achieving their professional goals faster. The app makes use of different multimedia and gamification elements to boost memory retention and make the learning experience as pleasant and efficient as possible.
Games and quizzes
Speaking of pleasures and entertainment, quizzes and games are yet another microlearning tool used in many learning applications. Introducing the element of reasonable rivalry has an enormous impact on learning effectiveness and encourages students – especially younger ones – to acquire new skills and explore various fields. Riddles and simple games with funny images or animations create a positive, safe environment, favorable for deepening knowledge about new concepts. As a result, students are able to quickly understand and memorize unknown words, structures, important events, grammatical rules, or historical figures. This way, the learning process becomes more exciting and immersive.
Quiz your English application
However, there’s much more to enriching the educational experience with game-like elements. For instance, after each game or quiz, students can receive direct feedback in the form of points, stars, or comments, as well as tables and graphs filled with statistics. This is a clear way of presenting progress, which motivates learners to further enhance their performance. Obtaining rewards for every little victory makes learning experience very pleasant and enriching. What’s more, students can challenge themselves, but also collaborate or compete with others, which is another factor increasing their engagement.
Scoring points, healthy competition, benefits, and instant gratification are elements of a broader concept called gamification, which has turned the education scene upside down in recent years. Using game features in a non-game context enabled education companies to turn a monotonous and tedious activity into something far more enjoyable. The phenomenon is already wide-spread. A London-based company Memrise offers a whole language learning system fueled by entertaining content and games to make acquiring new knowledge both pleasant and effective.
Source: Make your life a game
Similarly, Matific provides students with an outstanding application full of games, worksheets, and other materials dedicated to young math learners. The platform is available for desktop as well as for Android and iOS devices and has been translated to over 40 languages. Both apps are perfect for learning at school, but also individually, at home.
The education scene has gone through a real evolution and has opened to innovative solutions that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. The industry has only just started spreading its wings and impacting the way we acquire information. VR and AR technologies, LMS platforms, microlearning, AI or gamification are only a few out of numerous elements disrupting education right now. In order to gain success in this dynamic field, one needs to keep up to date with the newest trends and state-of-the-art technology.
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