Many people still believe that returning to higher education after starting your professional career means you must drop every other responsibility. Many people do not realize, however, that with the growing accessibility of online learning, more adults are likely to pursue degrees or further education while balancing work and life.
With this in mind, online educational institutions should first be aware that most students expect to see results in a timely manner. Activities that involve real-world problem-solving, concrete examples and a hands-on approach to tasks should be at the forefront of educators’ minds when creating a lesson plan.
A Master of Education in Applied Digital Learning program can equip adult educators with the knowledge to effectively teach students of all ages in virtual environments. To guarantee successful learning outcomes for adults, educators should be aware of the following trends in digital learning:
- Adaptive learning
“Adaptive learning” is a buzzword phrase that means highly personalized courses that adapt to the learner’s wants and needs as they progress. Using predictive analytics, theories of education and artificial intelligence, it’s possible to create something almost “tailor-made” for each student. Interested teachers should seek out platforms that will allow them to mix machine and human learning.
- Artificial intelligence
It’s no wonder that artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have been listed as upcoming trends for several industries: the past few years have introduced highly advanced AI tools to help humans achieve their highest potential with a very narrow margin of error. On the educational front, using AI means more personalized learning and easier engagement with classroom content through chatbots, for example.
Some techniques that work for children can also work for adults. Gamification — or turning learning outcomes into games — can enhance student participation, as the lessons start to feel less like burdensome tasks. For adults who spend most of their week at work, this can also be a fun way to “change gears.” The website EI Design has collected a few tips for integrating gamification into your classroom, including social media platforms and applying periodic checkpoints and goals.
This may not be a tool for everyone, but it can be an effective one for those educators working with adult learners who lack time. Microlearning is essentially using the building blocks of learning and dividing them into small units or shorter activities. There are many ways to approach microlearning, and many apps already use this technique by incorporating text, videos, games and quick quizzes as their “building blocks.”
There are many advantages to this method, including its flexibility, affordability and overall engagement with a learners used to fast access to information. “According to microlearning research, when you study something repeatedly and revisit it when you are close to forgetting it, you retain it much better. Such repeated study fits nicely with microlearning units since they are small, self-contained, and easy to return to,” said Nikos Andriotis in an article by eLearning Industry.
- Open educational resources
According to UNESCO, “Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.” Teachers shouldn’t feel like they need to reinvent the wheel every time they teach; OER materials for online learning are abundant and should be taken advantage of.
In the modern digital age, the intersection between education and digital tools is inevitable. Teachers who are equipped with the skills and knowhow of helping learners retain information using technology will be important for generations of students to come.