As you’re trying to figure out How to Successfully Manage Studying While Working Full-Time, you may have given thought to the idea of virtual learning.
Most universities and colleges now offer online academic qualifications, making it easier for the career-committed to juggle a full-time job with an education.
While some would bring into question the quality and effectiveness of online courses (especially considering that they might need to take out a Personal Loan to fund their lessons), the truth is that it has become a popular option for those looking to study part-time or unable to apply to a traditional learning institution.
Technological advancement has made education accessible for people of all ages, and by incorporating different media including video tutorials and slideshows, arguably offers the same quality of learning as a physical classroom. In fact, there is debate around whether the virtual classroom will eventually replace the traditional school day (read what the forecasters are saying here).
Whatever the future has in store for digital learning, it’s clear that transformation is happening in the sphere of education. This article, presented in collaboration with Hippo.co.za, looks at how e-learning has developed over the years, and we offer our own glimpse into where the sector could be heading in the future.
A surge in online enrolments
Superfast internet connectivity, the widespread adoption of smart devices and the omnipresence of computing have been the driving forces behind the rise of online learning. According to research by Ambient Insights, Africa’s e-learning market experienced exponential growth between 2011 and 2016, generating $513 million (over R6 billion) during this period, with South Africa establishing itself as the leading e-learning market on the continent.
Greater flexibility outside the classroom
An advantage of enrolling for online courses is that they allow the student to work in their own hours. This is especially beneficial for those who already have the responsibility of a career or family. The flexibility of online courses goes beyond accommodating students’ schedules – modern virtual courses also offer more specialised degrees and tailored courses, enabling students to explore areas outside of the classroom.
We’re seeing a shift away from text/e-book-based learning toward the inclusion of interactive activities in the teaching environment. Passive learning is becoming a thing of the past as tutors recognise the role of technology in providing efficient, engaging and fun learning experiences.
1. Cloud-based storage for resources and assignments
Cloud computing in 2018 will continue to provide a streamlined process for collaboration between students and tutors. Essays, content-related projects, and other assignments will be shared more easily and safely stored on the cloud, eliminating the risk of lost files.
2. e-Learning with gamification
Gamification (the insertion of gameplay elements in non-gaming content) is a valuable technique to stimulate learners and motivate participation. An example of how gamification can help learners practice real-life challenges in an online environment can be seen on Duolingo, a language learning platform, which rewards learners with points and allows them to send an invitation to their friends on Facebook to compete against them.
3. Interactive video learning
Many educational organisations are influenced by the fact that people are engaging with video more than ever. But rather than delivering a passive viewing experiences, educational websites are optimising their videos to be even more impactful. Interactive content – such as asking questions and link overlays – can make students more invested in the task.
It’s incredible how much virtual learning has progressed over the years. It’s no longer considered a substandard alternative to courses at educational institutes – even famous personalities such as Steven Spielberg and Nelson Mandela received their qualifications online. As technology continues to drive innovation in the educational landscape, we’ll undoubtedly see new resources, learning tools and increased flexibility emerge. For example, two tech developments that could take more prominence in the industry is virtual reality, which immerses learners in a simulated learning environment, and video conferencing, which could become a powerful tool for instructors to expand their reach.