When it comes to learning, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy that will work for every student. That’s why it’s important for education providers to continuously update their methodologies and try different approaches to help their students get the most out of every class. The growth of online learning has transformed the way we see education and made it possible to engage in lifelong learning without taking time off from an already established career.
Innovations in education are happening every day as educators come up with new and unique ways to teach. Specifically, technology is playing a big role in many of the new teaching strategies gaining ground and on that note, here are a few of the biggest trends shaping education today.
E-textbooks are becoming more popular
While it doesn’t look like e-books will ever make print books completely obsolete, the e-book industry has exploded in recent years. One survey found 57.8% of students prefer buying their textbooks in digital form due to reduced prices and the fact that they take up less space. By 2014, 60% of students had used an e-textbook at least once, up from 42% in 2012. There’s still a long way to go to make e-textbooks as user friendly as they should be, but companies like Inkling are developing ways to make content more unique, engaging and interactive.
There are also a number of apps, such as Kno, that provide students with access to thousands of digital textbooks that come with interactive features like videos, 3D models and simulations. As more professors switch to e-textbooks and more students get comfortable with using them, publishing companies are focusing their attention on digital rather than print.
Online delivery methods are in demand
Distance education has been around for awhile and the number of students who have taken at least one online course is rising steadily. In addition to fully online degree programs like those offered by the University of Europe Digital Laureate schools, there are hundreds of other institutions with stand-alone online course offerings. The benefits of online learning are numerous and include lower tuition costs, more flexibility and convenience and a larger variety of courses and programs to choose from.
Thanks to a number of handy tools, taking a course online doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Communication is easier than ever with interactive discussion boards and video messaging programs like Skype and Google Hangouts and documents and assignments can be easily shared with Google Docs and Drop Box. Utilizing internet-based tools is a must, and it adds another benefit to online learning since students will take their knowledge of these programs with them to the work force.
Smart classrooms are the future
Classrooms have changed a lot since the days of chalkboards and overhead projectors with stained transparencies. Technology has made its way into schools in the form of interactive material delivery methods that include audio and video elements. Some classrooms even provide personal computers and internet access to help inspire discussion.
The main advantage of smart classrooms is their ability to adapt to all kinds of students, no matter what their learning style happens to be. It’s also important to make sure students are learning how to use technology at a young age, because those are skills they will take with them as they continue their educational journey. A study by Samsung Europe found that nearly 72% of people pretend to understand the latest developments in technology. That’s why smart classrooms are the perfect way to integrate technology into learning, teaching students to be adaptable and eager to keep up with constantly changing trends.
Gaming and education make a winning combination
The gaming industry is worth billions of dollars, so what would happen if you combined education with the story telling and virtual reality elements of video games? Studies have shown that video games can help kids develop emotional, intellectual and social skills that support academic achievement. Bringing those benefits directly into the classroom encourages the development of strong critical thinking, problem solving and reading comprehension skills that they can put to use in every facet of their lives.
Researchers have found that games support highly engaging, individualized learning, can bridge the gap between in-school and out-of-school learning, create communities of practice and allow for embedded assessment. There are currently a number of companies, such as GameDesk, hard at work developing educational games that can be integrated into learning at every level.
Creativity is the key to engagement
Every past, present and future student is going to experience a class at some point that can’t be described as anything other than incredibly boring. Whether the material doesn’t inspire enough interest or it’s just the delivery method that isn’t striking a cord with students, some subjects are harder to teach than others. That’s why one school in China is experimenting with creative ways of combining subjects, like gym and chemistry for example, to demonstrate how everything is connected. The hope is that the strategy will lead to more young people who are curious, self-motived and independent critical thinkers.
Making material as engaging as possible is essential to effective learning that sticks. The goal of all educational innovations is to provide students with another way of looking at things. More options mean students have the opportunity to find the approach that works for them, therefore making education accessible to everyone regardless of learning style.