The past couple years saw exponential growth in e-learning—so what’s next?
GUEST COLUMN | by Phill Miller
For years, online learning was on the horizon as an option for students who either needed to recover a failed credit or wanted to take a course that wasn’t offered in their school district.
COVID-19 quickly accelerated our nation’s need for online learning options and opened our eyes to the possibility of this tool being available to all students.
This public health crisis brought on rapid change to how students learn and how instructors teach. In one form or another, e-learning is here to stay, and we must stand ready to embrace those robust changes.
‘In one form or another, e-learning is here to stay, and we must stand ready to embrace those robust changes.’
As we close the chapter on one year and begin another, e-learning will remain at the forefront of our education system and continue to evolve with the following trends:
1) Making learning a game
2) Creating meaningful content to meet students’ needs
3) Catching their attention and keeping it
4) Charting the course
Make Learning a Game
Gamification isn’t just fun—it’s a proven benefit! A recent study found a 50%+ increase from prior engagement levels with the use of gamified tactics. This increased engagement also led to better fluency with course materials and a faster learning curve for each participant.
E-learning presents more opportunities for gamified experiences than in-person learning. Features like achievements, behavioral rewards for participation and position tracking relative to course averages are all automated metrics that can be tracked for learners and educators. With each new milestone reward achieved, learners become more invested in the process.
Create Meaningful Content to Meet Students’ Needs
Deciding whether to customize your course or subscribe to a catalogue of content is key when it comes to creating an effective online learning course. Instructors need to keep their audience and their needs in mind when developing content for students, and must consider elements such as how interactive the course may be or the complexity of the topics.
Depending on students’ needs, developers can purchase or subscribe to a catalogue of content, or they can choose to create their own courses in-house or through outsourcing, and tailor the content to their participants. No matter how e-learning educators choose to move forward, these factors will be top of mind for them as we head into 2022.
Chart the Course
In-person, remote and hybrid instruction all have unique challenges. And teachers are expected to balance all of them flawlessly, whether running in-person classrooms amidst changing COVID-19 protocols, seamlessly integrating virtual learning into that same environment, or reverting to fully remote or in-person as needed. What’s more, educators are expected to be successful in implementing edtech with little instruction or assistance.
With e-learning here to stay, we must upskill in-person education professionals to be successful in online or hybrid learning environments. Schools must make e-learning training available for their teachers by charting a clear end goal with specific benchmarks of comfort and fluency, similar to how teachers create them for students.
Catch Their Attention and Keep It
The average attention span of a student in a traditional learning environment is anywhere from 10 to 18 minutes. However, when it comes to online learning, we know that timeframe can decrease to 7 minutes. In order to set our students up for success using an e-learning platform, we must quickly grab their attention and keep it throughout the session.
We also have to make sure we are going the extra mile to keep students engaged during this experience. Laura van den Ouden, an expert in training instructors on how to keep e-learning participants engaged, said during the 2021 Innovation Summit that she tries to incorporate surprises throughout her sessions. One of those includes keeping participants’ names in a jar and randomly drawing one to select a student to answer a question. She said this tactic will often catch them off guard and bring their attention back to the course.
More trends will emerge in 2022, but these will be the foundation for e-learning success. No matter if it’s tailoring content to students’ needs or keeping them engaged through gamification or other techniques, teachers must be comfortable with the e-learning products they use to provide better, more seamless online learning environments for their students.
Phill Miller is Managing Director at Open LMS, a leading provider of world-class LMS solutions that empower organizations to meet education and workplace learning needs. Connect with Phill on LinkedIn.