In the developed world, long gone are the days of blackboards, chalk, and overhead projectors. Technology has moved into the classroom. Not only have the latest advancements helped teachers create more interactive lessons that engage their students like never before, but they have also actually changed the way education is done.
E-learning for kids is a hot topic both at home for parents and among eager colleagues at teacher-training conferences, so let’s discover how these technologies have impacted and revolutionized education as we know it.
Hype Tech to Support E-learning
In general, e-learning can mean any solution that uses technology, from e-books to online courses, to standalone learning programs, to online driving theory courses, to children’s reading and gaming apps.
Let’s look more closely at the top trending technologies empowering the e-learning solutions available today.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
By adding artificial intelligence to e-learning, providers can fulfill the analytical role of traditional teaching by detecting weaknesses and providing the most optimized solutions for learning.
While it still has some way to go before the technology can rival a live human teacher who understands his or her students, even today AI is used in the classroom for grading, helping students master a subject through tutoring, and providing useful analysis. Take the online system Brainly, for example, that has an answer to almost every question.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is a technology that digitally changes the world around a person utilizing information, sound, data, imaging etc. Imagine putting on a pair of AR glasses, looking up at the sky and seeing the constellations, their names, and all the information about them.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Often confused with AR, virtual reality or VR works by immersing its user in a virtual world. Think about going on “quests,” or interactive tasks, that teach all about map reading, navigation, and teamwork, all in the comfort of a classroom. Or, the reality of flight-simulators that allow pilots to test varies strategies and train for emergencies, safely and before they have a chance to happen.
Not just for scientists. Robots are well on their way into being a fixture in the home. From a simple, programmable robotic-vacuum cleaner to children’s e-learning toys aimed at teaching computer coding, robotics is already a reality, and available for children as young as 3 years’ old. These e-learning systems use play to teach coding and other tech skills through sequences and patterns by developing particular thought processes in the brain.
This type of technology allows e-learners to ask questions and get answers at previously unheard-of speeds.
Voice recognition also addresses the needs of users with particular learning disabilities and those who are illiterate. While many take reading and writing for granted, over 30 million adults in the US are unable to do so, and this is passed on to their children, voice recognition software can make the world more accessible.
Altering the Way We Think Why E-learning Works
As these solutions are progressively incorporated into our lives, they are not only altering the way we do things—they are changing the way we think.
In the modern world, we operate at never before seen speeds. There is no need to physically go to a shop to buy a book and read it. Instead, information is thrown at us from every angle.
To adapt our brains themselves are evolving to be able to receive and process these massive amounts of information. The result is shorter attention spans, forgetfulness due to the lack of need to remember information, and technology addiction, with American’s picking up their phones over 80 times a day!
But it’s not all bad news; many believe technology has improved our ability to multitask as we can conquer many different tasks at once online.
For kids growing up with these advancements, aside from being early technology-adopters, they will discover the world in a way that previous generations never could. Want to see Africa? Just go online. Need a solution to a math problem? Google has the answer.
How Does E-learning Differ for Children and Adults?
Children and adults learn differently in traditional education, so it would be unwise to expect them to conform to the equal styles in e-learning. Below, we’ll explore the common learning challenges for adult and child learning and look at how e-learning can solve the problem.
Factors that affect adult learning:
- Adults often have rigid opinions; whether of their abilities (“I can’t do math”), their outlook on education (“I don’t like school”), or the purpose of education (“I have a job, what do I need this for?”).
- Adults are often afraid to fail and so refuse to take chances, so as not to embarrass themselves.
- Adults are independent and find it difficult to accept orders from a teacher as many have been living independent lives for many years.
- Adults genuinely can’t find time to attend classes or are too exhausted from work.
How e-learning for adults can help:
- It offers the flexibility of being able to learn on-the-go, any place, any time, providing a healthy “mind-break” from mundane activities.
- Is accessible, provided an internet connection is available.
- Addresses the need of the adult to be independent and to engage in learning activities in a safe environment, where they don’t feel at risk of being ridiculed.
- Learning is controlled by the user, without the need for strict instruction or other “orders.”
- Education can be fun or even a hobby.
- Provides a sense of confidence to those seeking to raise their education level.
Factors that affect learning for kids:
- Children need to play and often find it easier to engage in games and discover the world through play.
- Children may focus on group mentally and allow others to decide what is useful to learn and what is not.
- Have a genuine openness and desire to learn, from the very early “why, why, why?” stages to their questioning teenage years.
- They expect what they learn to be useful in the future.
- Children need to find education interesting, moldy old books and presentations won’t cut it.
- Can be easily distracted and often have short attention spans.
How e-learning for kids can help:
- Creates a game out of learning.
- Allows for repetition and mastery of learning.
- Well-developed e-learning programs can grow with the child and adjust to their needs.
- Children naturally gravitate towards technology and are glad to engage with it.
- Can build their future potential careers, by giving technical skills.
- Allows for independent and group learning in a controlled environment.
What It All Means for E-learning Solution Providers?
Children are more open to and engage better with play forms of learning, while adults require challenges and to see the immediate value of the education that they receive. The one common factor is the need to receive the information fast. Both children and adults require the stimulation felt by acquiring new knowledge. E-learning for kids and adults first and foremost needs to recognize this and develop solutions that suit their audiences.
Key Features of E-learning and Their Benefits
E-learning solutions for kids target their need to play, interact, and learn, drawing it all together in one tech-based package. Although many parents fear technology addiction and teachers loathe when children play on their phones during class, the latest solutions are moving away from “just having fun” and towards the more acceptable learning sphere.
Two key features that are drawing in young learners and producing effective learning results are game-based learning and immersive learning.
Children learn by playing, whether role-play games in school or through team building skills in football. If we look at game-based e-learning, it allows children to engage through play while developing essential skills.
Take digital puzzles or jigsaws, for example, available on a handheld device; they teach necessary problem-solving skills and spatial awareness. Simple math and language games can help children engage in material that could otherwise be “boring” to them, presenting it in a new interactive way.
While 15 years ago, we may have been glued to our screens watching Sesame Street, the younger generation of today engage with the popular TV show’s learning app and study by interacting with the show’s characters in various tasks.
Empowered by AI, AR, and VR, e-learning focuses on completely immersing the user into the learning environment through a range of stimulus – visual, auditory, and, in the near future, touch—and asking them to participate in the situation actively.
From the early e-learning solutions provide by the language-learning system Rosetta Stone, which uses immersive techniques without translation to teach foreign languages, to such roleplaying “games” as Lifesaver, that teach lifesaving skills such as CPR, by putting the user in an interactive situation and asking them to react, immersive e-learning technologies allow their users to truly get into a situation, making it real for them and creating an effective learning scenario.
Accessibility and Flexibility
E-learning’s accessibility and flexibility give it the potential to be one of the most open and equality-friendly forms of education available in the world today.
Let’s talk access. Considering the US market alone, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, while just under 75% own a computer. This is a colossal percentage, and it is rising by the year, meaning new users are continually engaging with technology.
But the world is not perfect, and not everyone has access to a smartphone or computer, 40% of the world’s population, a total of 3.8 billion people do, and this is not a number to be sniffed at.
Technological advances give the potential of providing access to education for those of lower-economic backgrounds and those unable to enter traditional school systems for a variety of reasons.
From simply attending classes via Skype, e-learning has made rapid leaps forward. Teachers are now employing solutions such as the flipped classroom approach which allows students to learn the material individual at home but come to class ready to engage more deeply in the topic.
Or, take systems such as Fuel Education or HotChalk that have entire dedicated systems built to educate students wherever they are. Teachers can upload plans, do grading, and provide feedback, while students can access lectures, tutorials, and quizzes at their own pace, wherever they are in the world.
Learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Just as children require different learning styles so do they need different e-learning solutions. AI can be used to assess a learner’s ability and tailor learning material to suit them.
Take so-called “special needs” education, for example. Children with learning disabilities and difficulties often find it difficult to cope with traditional learning methods.
E-learning presents the perfect tool to engage users with additional needs, work with them at their level, and exclude learning-inhibiting factors that the traditional classroom scenario presents. For educators and parents alike, this potential for e-learning development could be a lifesaver.
Why Are E-learning Solutions for Kids so Successful?
Flexibility, accessibility, and tailor-made solutions. E-learning can be successful because it provides the individual approach that isn’t attainable in the classroom.
Does this mean we can throw traditional education out the window? Absolutely not. While e-learning for kids helps them connect, we can’t count out that human factor just yet. Kids need motivation, encouragement, and sometimes respond better to traditional methods.
In today’s world, e-learning acts as a support and engages young users in various types of play activities, from actual games to stories, to short quizzes, which complement the learning process. They can help fill the gap when students are absent through illness, engage students in flipped-classroom learning, maximizing teacher time, or reinforce mastery of learning.
What to Take Away
Many parents and educators remain cynical about the benefits of e-learning, fearing that children will become tech-addicts, never looking up from the smartphones.
While eyesight issues, concerns over appropriate information, and anxiety from FOMO (fear of missing out), are genuine, these are challenges that need to be addressed, not roadblocks that can’t be overcome.
As e-learning development progresses, specialists seek to take on these challenges and build a more interactive future for the world of education.