What impact has the global pandemic made on the long-term future for online learning?
There is no denying that education has undergone the most significant change in recent memory over the past two years. What long-term megatrends are supporting the shorter-term shifts that we have experienced is an intriguing issue to think about right now. I just read an essay by Dublin City University's Chair of Digital Learning Mark Brown that was based on preliminary findings from a study that tried to identify the important trends. I'd like to offer a high-level summary of these findings and some of my own observations.The following five megatrends were discovered from the research:
Let us explore each of these trends in more detail.
Pedagogical lines are becoming more hazy. When describing a more sophisticated and complicated combination of learning modalities, we are now more likely to use hybrid or virtual learning models than the terms online and face-to-face learning. E-learning courses, virtual classrooms, and peer learning communities might all be included in a hybrid learning strategy. The crucial thing to understand is that there are now more complex use cases for a wide range of digital technologies, including cutting-edge ones like virtual reality and augmented reality, as we mature away from a binary dichotomy (face-to-face versus online).
MOOCs were created as a result of the scaling up of education some time ago (Massive Open Online Courses). The pandemic has sped up the spread and use of MOOCs and other comparable models created to greatly expand online learning. Over 180 million people were taking MOOCs around the world as of November 2020, with one third starting in that year (Shah, 2020).
Digital/networked content, free of charge, open access, and freedom of reuse are all aspects of openness. There is a growing collection of free educational resources in the public domain, particularly in digital media. This has fuelled the creation and demand for automated curation tools like Anders Pink, and I have no doubt that these will continue to advance as AI technologies are used to tailor the curation process.
Interactivity is already widely acknowledged as a key component for engaging and effective online learning. A clearer comprehension of the types of interactivity required to provide an effective learning outcome is now beginning to emerge. Three types of online learner engagement are described by experts in the field (Moore 1989; Anderson 2003):
- Learner – Learner
- Learner – Teacher
- Learner – Content
Deep and meaningful formal learning is sustained as long as one of the three forms of interactions is at a high degree, according to a fundamental tenet of the theory. Without lowering the quality of the educational experience, the other two may be supplied at low levels or even deleted.
Three interconnected structural components of the interaction framework have been postulated by other researchers (e.g. Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000):
- Cognitive presence – progressive stages of practical investigation that result in the problem or dilemma's resolution.
- Social presence – the capacity of a learner to present oneself in the online world as a real person.
- Teacher presence – the planning, guiding, and/or support of the social and cognitive processes with a view to obtaining the intended learning outcomes.
The educational experience is where these three presences cross, and while the relative importance of each may differ, all three must be present for there to be any real learning to take place.
Organisations will start to think more carefully about where they encourage individuals to conduct their study activities as a result of the necessity of a social and teacher presence, increasing the chance for teacher and/or peer contacts and interactions.
It is now acknowledged that the idea of interactivity matters when it comes to the creation of videos and other digital media (Mayer, Fiorella and Stull 2020). For instance, current research shows that viewers retain more information from an instructional video when the instructor is drawing on the board while lecturing (dynamic drawing principle), shifting their gaze between the audience and the white board (gaze guidance principle), and providing prompts for summarising or explaining the subject matter (generative activity principle) (subtitle principle).
A variety of innovative digital learning technologies have emerged in response to the significant demand for online learning, and this development is likely to continue. According to Grand View Research, the ed tech sector will expand at a rate of 19 percent annually over the next five years. A large portion of this investment will support the creation of novel and cutting-edge technology. Due to the expansion of the types of learning tool, the idea of a learning ecosystem has been widely accepted. Similar to other technology markets, the larger players are likely to stifle the smaller innovators, but from the standpoint of education, it is advantageous to preserve a more fragmented, less controlled, and more diverse environment.
In order to improve instructional design and hybrid learning model implementation and provide better learning outcomes for our people and our organisations, we need to recognise and grasp these megatrends. You can read the full article is available here.