Technology is everywhere, and its ability to transform learning is massive. The model of using technology in learning links teachers to their learners and to professional content, resources, and systems and helps them improve their own instruction and personalize learning.
Technology such as computers, mobile devices, internet access, and interactive whiteboards can be incorporated into instruction to help educators deliver learning materials and support learning in traditional classrooms (Cheung 2012).
Research from PEW stated that adults who have smartphones and have home access to broadband internet were significantly more likely to engage in personal learning experiences than those who lacked either one or both options.
So let’s dissect, how does one designs technology-assisted learning so that it is effective?
Here are a few trends in using technology in classroom instruction.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Used in gaming, virtual, and augmented reality in learning has also proven to be effective and engaging. Because most adults already own a smartphone, educational virtual reality apps can easily be downloaded without significant financial commitment on their part.
Gamification refers to adding game-like elements to other activities. Heather MacNeill, head of communications for the learning platform BlueBottleBiz identified four critical ideas designers should keep in mind when creating adult learning tools that use gamification:
- Learners should have the different format options that match the various learning styles. This means that gamification should be able to cater to learners who like to watch videos, those who don’t, etc. The more choices on the type of content, the more the learner is likely to engage.
- Gamification should be integrated to the organization’s learning program and provide social experiences
Tie in gamification with social features such as sharing content recommendations or viewing colleagues’ learning activities. This will engage your learners more and make them go back to the learning program.
- Learners should have the freedom to explore and learn through gamification in a way that feels natural to them allowing learners to discover and learn on their own is much more effective than forcing them to learn all at the same time, in the same format, etc.
- Learners should be able to quickly and easily access additional resources providing learners with quick and easy access to the technology is key in making sure it is effective.
More and more adults rely on their smartphones for almost everything, including their learning needs. Apps that support learning keep sprouting left and right. This is a trend that is most likely to stay.
Now that we’ve talked about the trends that can be used to infuse technology into classroom learning, let’s talk about a few challenges that adult learners might face with technology-aided learning.
Personal biases of learners for or against certain brands, technologies, and tools can affect their learning capability and experience. When designers make courses, consider whether it is accessible on tablets or smartphones, Apple or Android, laptops or desktops, etc.
2. Technology adeptness
Adult learners’ experience and exposure to technology vary immensely. Designers must not assume that all learners have the same technology literacy as they do. Make instructions as simple and clear as possible and avoid jargon that might overwhelm or confuse others.
3. Fear of technology
Adults who have not been exposed too much to different forms of technology may be more fearful of losing data, accessing tools, and using unknown (to them) forms of technology.
Adult learners learn in different ways. No matter how fancy your gamification on your elearning may be, if your learners are afraid of technology, not familiar with the technology, or biased against it, the objectives of the learning course won’t be met and learning won’t be effective.
Having technology embedded in classroom instruction may be best if it is assisted or overseen by an instructor in order to avoid any confusion, unwillingness and fear of the technology being used.
Cheung, in the study entitled “How features of educational technology applications affect student reading outcomes: A meta-analysis” states that “effects appear stronger for comprehensive programs that integrate teacher and computerized instruction than for computer-assisted instruction (CAI) alone.”
To summarize, the type of technology used, the adult learners’ learning context, and the support to be available during the learning session all have to be considered during the design and development stage in order to ensure that learning is effective.