Education – Smarter, Less Intrusive, And Able To Respond To How You Feel

We have been using a lot of analytics, tools, and digital innovations to track user experience on the Internet – retailers know the products that consumers have looked at and can use that information to target advertising to them; Amazon knows what you buy and sends emails suggesting related items for future purchases. Website owners know when their sites are accessed and can track your activity, in order to improve your future experience on their sites. It is now time to use all of the great technology and more in educational delivery systems to students at all ages.

Tracking Student Activity in Digital Learning

The same tools that are used to analyze consumer behavior on websites, can be used to track student behavior as they engage in web-based learning activities. Where are they “bouncing” out? This will give teachers clues relative to what activities have just become too challenging or too boring for individual students. Who needs additional help and who needs to move on? This is great information to have and it can be delivered in real time without a test to grade.

In addition to identifying users who are struggling or not being challenged enough, ed tech companies can also build in other activities to which these students can be directed. And as the teacher is alerted, s/he can plan as well. Consider a student who must become an essay writer of many types. Traditionally, teachers spend hours grading such essays. New learning tools, however, will provide the teacher with an assessment, so that grammar and composition instruction can be customized, based upon each student’s challenges.

E-commerce is learning from its customers; it’s time for educators to learn from their students in a digital environment.

Technology that can Interpret and Adapt to Students’ Feelings about Their Learning

Right now, digital learning systems can provide activities and assess mastery. They do not, however, have the technology to interpret student feelings about their learning – frustrated, confused, or bored. And yet, these feeling impact how well students learn, or not.

Newer technology is on the horizon that may do a better job of tracking students’ behavior and, with built-in algorithms, determine how a student is feeling about his learning experience. This is already being done to a small extent in game learning environments, and research is being used to predict exactly how students may respond in learning environments that are not game-based.

If we can ultimately develop tools that will gauge student emotional responses to specific activities, we can than modify those activities to meet the needs of individual students, making mastery of concepts and skills possible for a greater number of students.

Using digital Assessments that are Less of an Interruption and Far Less Intrusive in the Learning Process

The traditional method of assessment involves teaching and learning activities over a specific amount of content, and then stopping to test. Digital learning environments will eliminate the need for these interruptions by providing continuous feedback to students and teachers on mastery and, as well, providing remediation activities right then and there. When teachers have this constant feedback, moreover, they are more able to plan for individualized learning plans.

Changes in Roles of Teachers in the Learning Process

Teachers will never be replaced, of course. However, the time is rapidly coming where the role of the teacher will change. S/he will function as a coach, not a deliverer of knowledge – assessing the learning of each student and providing specific interventions to enhance the process. The student role changes as well with the student playing the active role in his/her learning.

A New Concept of the Classroom

Ultimately, classrooms will be anywhere. Already this is occurring on college campuses throughout the nation. The movement down to K-12 is only a matter of time. Already, teachers can Skype with students who need instruction from home due to long illnesses. Web-based teaching and learning tools and provide immediate feedback to teachers who can then remotely modify and plan for students. Ed tech experts see the day when learning may occur with collaboration of students and teachers anywhere in the country or the world. Truly we are on the verge of fully mobile classrooms.

The key to effective digital learning will be the research that drives the delivery and assessment models and the evaluation of the learning tools themselves. There is a lot of very mediocre educational software and systems out there. And evaluations must be research-based just as any other product or service is assessed.