Industry Focus: Tech Learning
The edtech industry has seen strong growth over the last few years. Learning is a central aspect of the industry. When you were a student, you may have come across some of the technological aids for learning and therefore, have seen for yourself how much they can be of assistance. Instruments and digital ways of learning vary, and companies dealing with educational technology continue to search for ways to contribute to the industry.
One benefit of industry growth is the opening of job positions in education technology companies. Additionally, next generation schools are looking for teachers with digital skills that can introduce students to tech learning. Supposing that educational technology and learning are in your field of interest, the following information will give you an insight into the industry and its prospective job opportunities.
How Did Educational Technology Influence Learning?
Digital skills are becoming essential for achieving success, in both studies and careers. Knowledge of technology is required for all stages of education and training, from research and writing papers to tech job positions. It is essential for all countries that wish to keep up to date to introduce tech learning, in order to prepare educated youth for building a strong digital school economy.
Over the last two decades, there has been a gradual shift towards digital technology, with pupils participating more actively in the classroom: for example, through the use of interactive whiteboards and tablets. Research conducted by professors from Durham University, as the foundation of their paper, “The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation,” has shown that digital technology can be effective in learning different subjects such as mathematics and science as well as increasing attainment levels in numeracy and literacy. Technology can make a positive contribution to the lives of all learners; therefore, using technology while learning can be a key element to success.
To ensure that digital education in schools continues to keep pace with business needs, learning methods must improve and set the foundation for the development of required knowledge in digital careers. A high standard of teaching and learning, with appropriate technologies to support pedagogy, is a key part of improving student success and meeting those needs. As students and faculties meet new and flexible ways of studying and collaborating, institutions will expect more from their online learning platforms (OLPs) and other technologies that aid pedagogy.
Models of Tech Learning
The digital age has brought diverse learning methods. From using mobiles and eLearning to the gamification of content and personalized learning, these new learning models have changed the education system.
One learning model worth mentioning is adaptive learning. Adaptive learning uses advanced technology to deliver personalized learning. The concept of “desirable difficulty” states that there is a “sweet spot” range of difficulty for learning content – content outside this range is perceived by the learner to be either too easy or impossibly difficult, causing the learner to lose engagement. The challenge is that this range is different for every learner (Knowledge Factor, Inc., 2015). Adaptive learning allows digital learning programs to find this “sweet spot”, reinforcing areas that a given learner is struggling with while letting him or her quickly progress through those he or she has grasped. A key advantage that digital learning has over traditional classroom learning is the ability to a create program content that is not only customized for each learner but is also adaptive to that learner’s performance.
Another learning method that has attracted attention is “gamification”. According to Docebo’s (a learning management system) publification “Elearning market trends and forecast 2017-2021” it is one of the game changers in the future. In this publification they provide readers with the insight into this method. It turns the learning process into a game. Elements such as achievement badges, points, leaderboards, progress bars and levels/quests are introduced to provide motivation for learners to progress. Gamification has proved to be an effective approach for programs looking to add game-related elements into existing digital learning content, without changing the content itself. On the other hand, “game-based learning” (GBL) refers to learners playing actual games as part of the learning process. The aim of the games is to teach specific skills or program elements relevant to the course content. For programs looking to upgrade the existing digital learning content, integrating game-based learning in between and/or at the end of existing modules is often an effective approach.
Besides previously mentioned methods, social learning is also making improvements in existing learning programs. It integrates a social element into the digital learning process, either in an integrated way (e.g. through concurrent chats during live webinars) or indirectly (e.g. through online social learning study groups). The primary goal of this type of learning is to increase learner engagement. Research has shown that in order to build learners’ engagement, it is important to engage them not only with the content, but also with each other and with their teachers. Social platforms are especially important in building digital program engagement since they serve as the principal channel of interaction.
Improvements in Tech Learning
Given the challenge of improving student success in education, it is crucial to ensure that technology actively supports institutional student success initiatives. Technology shouldn’t just be used as a learning tool, but also as a tool for predicting learning risks and improving student success. The solutions for student success involve the use of data collection and analysis tools to predict student success or risk, alert those who can intervene, and assess the effectiveness of interventions. The ability of student advisors, faculty, and students to use existing and upcoming technologies is an essential part of a student success strategy. Learning analytics will gain increasing prominence as applications to improve the student experience and enable better decision-making. As primary tools for faculty and administrators, they provide real-time evidence of student learning progress and support needs, enabling early intervention to ensure academic completion, as well as reporting faculty performance. This is evidence that analytics is an important part of student success solutions, particularly for teaching and learning.
Informal learning is also being used by schools to increase digital skills. Coding clubs, such as Code Club, are typically free volunteer-led after-school networks, usually for children aged 9-11. Introducing children to technology and its development can, later on, enable them an easier adaptation to the use of technology in all fields. Since 2012, there have been 4,900 Code Clubs registered in the UK, teaching over 57,000 children. Their activities include making computer games, animations, and websites, thus helping them to develop skills in science, technology, and engineering as well as digital creativity.
As job possibilities in tech learning expand, universities are offering new and appropriate study programs that can prepare and provide you with the expertise to work in this field. Here are some of the university programs which might be of interest:
- University of Twente: Educational Model
- The Open University: Education Studies (Primary)
- Universität Hamburg: Educational Science
- University of Gothenburg: Educational Game Design
- University of Jyväskylä: Educational Technology Master
- University of Bristol: Education (Learning, Technology and Society)
- Utrecht University: Educational Sciences: Learning in Interaction Masters
- Delft University of Technology: MSc Science Education and Communication
- University of Turku: Master’s Degree Programme in Learning, Learning Environments and Educational Systems
Job Opportunities Related to Tech Learning
Tech learning provides opportunities for educated and innovative young people to contribute and adapt the ways of standardized learning. Depending on your skills and interests, the education technology industry offers various job positions:
The desired profile for this position is someone that can use their digital skills to integrate new learning models. If you’re in touch with educational innovations, you could work for a next generation school as a fast-adapting and efficient teacher. Online learning schools might be another option for you, if you like the combination of teaching and working from home.
As technology progresses and new learning models appear, researchers are needed to help companies keep in touch with technological trends. Good computing skills and attention to detail are necessities. As a researcher, you would keep track of education technology companies and educational institutions, and attain information about their chosen learning models. Also, you would need to provide detailed information about those models.
This position is perfect for those who love innovation. It includes advising about learning programs, upskilling opportunities, and consulting about technology improvements. You may find this to be the right job for you if you are a good strategic advisor and have an eye for innovative learning opportunities.
IT experts can be part of the education industry by creating new learning models and maintaining and improving the existing ones. Furthermore, young people who are interested in improving education facilities but don’t see themselves working in such institutions, can find their place in companies dealing with tech learning improvement.
One such company is Ambient Insight. It is an ethics-based market research firm that identifies revenue opportunities for learning technology suppliers. They have the most complete view of the international learning technology market in the industry. Ambient Insight has two lines of business: publishing quantitative syndicated reports, and providing proprietary custom research to suppliers and private investment firms.
There is also a nonprofit organization called Digital Promise, which is committed to accelerating innovation in education in order to improve opportunities to learn. They connect entrepreneurs, educators, and researchers, to support and advance the development and use of educational technology that provides career opportunities and improves the learner’s quality of life.
For all the previously mentioned reasons, educational institutions need to support the use of innovative technology in order to improve student success. IT departments will have a significant opportunity to lay the groundwork for using technology to deliver innovation, flexibility, and agility, as well as long-term value to institutions. In an environment where capacity for innovation is rising, the possibilities for finding an exciting and challenging job keep appearing. Advanced tech learning has proved to be beneficial not only to the learner, but also to the job seekers, thus motivating schools to accept digital changes and make a difference.
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