In this article, I have shared my views on “Why the future of online education looks bright?”
Although it presented significant difficulties in the early stages of the pandemic, I frequently hear that remote learning is the way of the future. What will change, exactly? originally posted on Quora, a knowledge-sharing platform that enables users to learn from one another and get a better understanding of the world.
In my more than 15 years of experience with online learning, I have often witnessed the same trend. For people who can’t attend a real class, the online experience is “the next best thing,” according to Online Ed 1.0, which focuses on trying to duplicate the traditional experience while falling somewhat short.
This is what we observed when early MOOCs were delivered using webcams in lecture halls, voice-over-PowerPoint class formats, etc.
When universities begin to heavily rely on the advantages of technology and stop making excuses for how it differs from the traditional classroom, this is the beginning of online education 2.0.
At this stage, there is a significant increase in student participation. For example, there are more opportunities for students to provide comments and ask questions often, as well as more means for them to direct the use of on-screen tools.
And as businesses begin creating tools, content, and experiences exclusively for the online platform, Online Ed 3.0 picks momentum.
With the early epidemic, districts and instructors were thrust into Online Ed 1.0 very rapidly. They were required to replicate the in-person experience online with little preparation time and while juggling a variety of other obstacles (trying to figure out device and internet access for students, dealing with the realities of the pandemic in their own homes and families).
Many educators adopted Online Ed 2.0 purely out of habit, wisdom, and a burning desire to improve the learning environment. However, we largely missed out on the 2.0/3.0 experiences, which are what will actually shape online learning in the future.
So what will the future include as educators can be more intentional and thoughtful about online education?
2) Personalized Participation
Two things about classroom involvement are quite obvious from educational research: the more students participate, the better they perform. However, almost all students self-regulate and refrain from contributing as much as they ought to.
And there is a tonne of benefits to online education here. You truly put yourself out there in a traditional class when you raise a question, offer an explanation, or seek assistance outside of class.
You are on stage when you raise your hand, you are on stage when you speak in front of the class, and you are on stage when you are spotted talking to the teacher after class.
However, there are a lot of methods to participate online. There are breakout rooms, private chat, and anonymous polling options. There are simple ways to keep track of who has been active versus passive and to offer supportive encouragement as necessary.
The largest concern I heard from teachers while I was training them to teach online was nearly always that they would miss the back-and-forth with students. However, after a week or two of teaching online, they would report that it was much more interactive than anything they had ever experienced.
4) AI & Adaptivity
We are all aware that learning occurs best when students are given challenges they can handle but must work to overcome. But how many tasks in our daily lives fall into the “between,” leaving pupils who were having trouble rapidly overwhelmed and those who weren’t being challenged with plenty of time to daydream or doodle?
Adaptive tasks and exercises can provide a boost to pupils who need revision or confidence, as well as a challenge to those who are getting bored. But that’s just the beginning.
In the near future, we’ll be able to discover which examples are the most effective at helping students understand a concept, which review materials can prevent students from performing poorly or dropping out entirely, and which metacognitive questions a system might pose to a student to help them course-correct before they repeatedly make the same mistake.
The future is even more promising as activities learn to adapt to supplement education, engage students in ways that reinforce their knowledge, and so much more. Adaptive assignments currently do a very good job of providing challenges and confidence-boosters where needed and of using students’ time that much more wisely.
Overall, mainstream education in 2020–21 received a lot of Online Ed 1.0, which only attempted to duplicate the in-person experience through technology.
With certain exceptions, we are currently in Online Ed 2.0 and moving toward 3.0. However, methods are being developed to properly maximize online education and not only capitalize on its current strengths.
We’ve also seen over the past few years how important it is for so many students to meet in person, have those informal interactions, and engage in the full academic experience. As a result of everything I’ve said above, the goal isn’t to replace in-person education but rather primarily to enhance it.
Therefore, future online education won’t be “all online,” but rather a way to fully integrate what technology can achieve with all that traditional education excels at. The hybrid age is here (even though that is a term that also got some rough connotations in 2020, too).