early days of online education looked suspiciously similar to traditional
classes taken in brick-and-mortar classrooms.
matriculated for a course, purchased your books or downloaded materials, and
attend class via computer – on the day and time set by the school or professor.
Eventually, online courseware included opportunities
for digital networking, conversing in chat rooms, and sharing computer screens.
The courses were exclusive; those without computer access were left out.
won the Krypto Labs Innovation Startup Competition in Abu-Dubai. The
Brazilian edtech entrepreneurs behind Key2Enable competed against 800 other
innovative groups from 58 countries. The winning product enables motor-impaired
individuals to access computers. Doing so affords students expanded learning
opportunities that they might not otherwise have.
access is only the beginning of what’s possible in online education. New edtech
innovations create a synergy that makes online education the preferred choice
for many learners.
The best innovations in online
and access to it aren’t the only innovations in online education. Many supplemental tools support classroom
instruction at all levels of learning, helping students engage in the learning
process and enjoy it.
Student response systems
recognize the need for student involvement in lessons, but connecting with each
student in every class can take time, especially if the class size exceeds 30
students. Although necessary for learning, engagement, response, and feedback are
like Socrative assist teachers in engaging
students and diagnosing student performance. One of the reasons Socrative is so
successful is that it bridges the gap between school and home, learning and
leisure time. Students access their homework online, complete it, and the app
grades it and provides immediate feedback.
responses systems streamline the process for continuous communication.
Expanded social learning
education models find themselves transitioning to more fluid models.
Classes will no longer serve as one-time “events.”
learners will have greater access to social networks that function as tools for
learning. Students will find themselves connecting to their professors, subject
matter experts, and people in the field as part of the learning experience.
surprisingly, online courses have a reputation for being bland. As a rule, they
fail to engage learners. Students give up on the courses and go on to something
else. Adding gamification, however, creates novelty and an element of fun.
According to course creation expert Zsuzsanna Kisvardai, one possibility for innovation is to establish the hero’s journey within the course. Direct your students to create an avatar. Then every learning task they complete takes them one step closer to becoming the hero in their academic journey.
Only the beginning
education is growing in popularity. One out of every three college
students have taken an online course; 15.4% of them take online courses to
the exclusion of enrollment in traditional courses. You can count on seeing these
numbers grow, especially if online education becomes more relevant and
growth will happen only if startups like Key2Enable and others make online
education accessible and engaging. If edtech entrepreneurs vigorously innovate
for online education, we may see incredible new innovations in an industry on
the verge of exponential growth.