It’s been described as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. A fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another. Enabled by the extraordinary advances in technology, it is redefining our whole approach. Some big thinking, right?
And yes, it’s more than just the technology, it’s how we harness it and create opportunities to make real and sustainable change for the future.
Technology in teaching
Online teaching and learning have been around for some time, but the sudden and impromptu shift to online has blown away many barriers and created an opportunity for the university experience to be improved dramatically. And there seems little appetite for a return to ‘business as usual.’
As we move beyond the ‘quick fixes’ to a more sustainable way of teaching and learning, we’re beginning to see the potential for technology to really transform our teaching and learning practices.
The perception of technology and online teaching and learning are changing too. What people used to see as a risk is now being seen as an opportunity to reinvent the on-campus experience so that it’s accessible to anyone, however, they want to learn and wherever they are in the world.
There is, however, no one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation and the approach universities should take in augmenting their classroom content to online. Digital strategies need to be shaped by each university’s objectives and to fit the needs of their students and staff. The key is to find a digital strategy and the technology that supports students and staff to thrive.
So, what should universities be considering as part of their digital transformation? Here are some of the top emerging trends from the complex world of educational technology:
Emerge Education states, ‘success will require a seamless transition between face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online learning. Done well, this will be a more inclusive university that meets the needs of a diverse student population, with significant changes to pedagogy and a rethink of the role of estates. And some may look at reinventing what it means to be a successful university in 2030 from scratch.’
Personalised learning based on insights from artificial intelligence (AI)
According to the Fortune Business Insights’ report, the global AI market is projected to reach almost $170 billion by 2025, and by 2028 be worth more than $360 billion. Many researchers believe it has more potential to change higher education than any other technology and will play an instrumental role in the future of teaching and learning.
“Ultimately, we want to improve modules, we want to look at program outcomes and support our students better – that is the holy grail of personalised learning. Analytics is simply the process of how we use data to facilitate better conversations between lecturers, support staff and students.” – Gideon Shimshon, Associate principal digital learning and director of QM Online at Queen Mary University of London. [June 2021]. Technology-enabled teaching and learning at scale: A roadmap to 2030
Every student learns at a different pace and by applying artificial intelligence technologies, students are presented with learning that is personalised based on their performance. This personalisation also helps tailor the lesson content to each individual student. AI platforms can adapt to each student’s needs, level of knowledge, topics of interest, pace of understanding, and pace of learning. Learning materials then cleverly adapt to the student rather than the students having to adapt their learning style.
AI can provide a detailed analysis of a student’s academic performance and over time builds a clear and comprehensive picture of how well they’re doing. With the help of machine learning, students are directed to areas they may need to focus on to reach their goals. These virtual mentors can help students identify gaps in their knowledge and then deliver the personalised content they need to thrive.
This detailed analysis also provides recommendations to tutors for guiding the student or helping them in a particular area of work and can help them see a student’s performance lifecycle.
AI is also making waves in the assessment and grading process. Automatic algorithms can check work faster and more accurately than a person and can save hours of marking and grading for teachers. It can also check for things like plagiarism in student work.
Although AI won’t replace educators, it is changing the way they work with their students and how they provide feedback on their performance. It is also supporting students to work at their own pace rather than the pace of the classroom.
Experiential learning through virtual reality
Experiential learning is all about having an engaged learning process whereby the students learn ‘by doing’. It is a practical learning environment, such as a lab where students have a hands-on learning experience.
The global pandemic has had a huge impact on experiential learning as students couldn’t come together in a classroom or travel abroad for research projects.
So, how do we ensure this crucial way of teaching and learning works for online students?
One of the key benefits of virtual reality (VR) is that you can learn through experience. It brings two-dimensional objects to life and makes them feel more real, providing a more immersive and engaging way to learn. It helps tutors bring their lectures and subject areas to life. The possibilities seem endless; history students could explore ancient ruins without having to leave their seats and medical students can take part in an autopsy without having to physically touch an instrument.
This provides a whole new way of teaching and learning for online students to ensure they have the same experience as their on-campus colleagues.
Some early adopters of VR include Bangor University who is using VR to teach radiographers how to use X-ray machines and the University of Westminster, which has a dedicated VR lab, has created a virtual space for criminal law students to search for clues in a murder case.
As well as providing such an immersive learning experience, VR provides the perfect environment for student-teacher collaboration. It gives educators the chance to make learning more social by giving students the opportunity to talk to each other as well as through body language.
Mike Kolodziej, Director of Educational Program Development PD & Short Burst Learning at the University of Phoenix said: “People learn best by doing the thing that you’re trying to teach them. Technology is just a tool. The right way to design learning is to understand what that person needs to do to become an expert in that field.”
LearningMate. (April 2021) Transforming Teaching & Learning: Lessons Learned During the Pandemic. Retrieved from URL.
VR offers so many opportunities for universities from student recruitment by being able to use VR to show international students around the grounds or to reduce the costs of buying equipment for training meaning all students can join in…the opportunities really are endless.
Trust the experts
LearningMate has been in the online teaching and learning field for a long time…twenty years in fact. We’ve seen the various changing faces of education and have supported clients all over the world to reshape and transform their platforms and learning content to better suit the needs of their students and educators.
We’re always learning and want to stay ahead of the game so we can continue to provide our partners with the best products and services. We believe in collaboration and work closely with key players within the higher education sector so we can really understand what people need.
We recently partnered with Emerge Education, Jisc, the University of Coventry Provost Ian Dunn, and Associate principal digital learning and director of QM Online at Queen Mary University of London, Gideon Shimshon, to produce a green paper that explores the changing nature of teaching and learning. Based on research interviews with more than 50 university leaders, education technology founders, and higher education experts, Technology-enabled teaching and learning at scale: A roadmap to 2030 provides insights and advice for universities and start-ups on what the future of technology-enabled teaching and learning could look like.
The paper focuses on three key themes for technology in the learning environment:
- Resources: how might technology transform core teaching materials and improve access?
- Delivery: how can we use technology and appropriate pedagogy to engage students most effectively with blended teaching and assessment?
- Support: how can we remove roadblocks to learning to ensure a smooth, personalised learning pathway for students?
Each category provides a breakdown of the trends, challenges, and opportunities for universities and students, exploring the ways in which new emerging technology can be used in the future.
We want to support other people in finding the right technology for them and hope this paper really gives universities and start-ups some insights into the future of teaching and learning.
There’s no denying that over the past 21 months, technology has played an instrumental part in ensuring that students can continue to learn. The experience may have been different but ultimately, it meant that the wheels of education could keep on turning.
And not only that, it has opened the possibilities and opportunities that technology can provide for teaching and learning for the future. It has transformed the traditional on-campus approach to a world that involves virtual reality and machine learning robots! And all of this benefits the students, the educators, and the universities themselves.
And here at LearningMate, we’re experts in the field of online teaching and learning. We’re at the forefront of these advancements and are already supporting our clients to transform the way they present their content and use their platforms for better learning experiences.
For an informal chat about how we might be able to provide a solution or support you in your journey to future-proofing your teaching and learning approach, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.