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4 eLearning Trends and the Technologies that Support Them

In recent years, eLearning and digital assessment trends have focused on forward-thinking technology like gamification, AI and the ability to impart tangible, game-like experiences into learning scenarios. While these are expected to ramp up in 2020, it is also important to also keep in mind the common goals underpinning the trends that are directing the start of a new decade in EdTech. 

Continuous evolution is the backbone of successful EdTech. Where various trends define the contours of the eLearning landscape, the development of supporting technology is crucial. In fact, statistical projections show that by 2022 the educational technology market worldwide is “forecast to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars.” As you build up your digital assessment programs in 2020, here are some of the trends and supporting technologies to keep an eye out for.  

Collaborative Skills is Still a Focus

In classrooms across the world, the focus over the last few years has shifted toward measuring collaborative skills in order to gain better insight into learning. This has led instructors away from relying on item types that only measure a student’s final answer. (Although, some multiple choice items can help identify common misconceptions, which allows instructors to precisely target the intervention useful for the student.) Now, they are beginning to incorporate more game-like technology-enhanced items (TEIs) into their tests that measure 21st Century skills, like cross-collaboration and critical thinking. Though TEIs used to require quite a commitment in cost and time in order to be considered as a viable assessment component, this is no longer the case. Now, TEI’s built on the IMS Portable Custom Interaction (PCI) standard are designed to naturally integrate with your assessment tools. 

PCIs give instructors the ability to create problem-solving items and to include an unlimited number and type of interactions. They also collect rich log data, providing insights such as mouse movements, tool use, idle time, and last actions. In turn, this feedback allows instructors to gain deep insight into how students approach a problem, and identify areas that might require additional focus. With PCIs gaining prominence in digital assessments in recent years, the potential for innovation has only been building, leaving the decade open for endless enhancements.  

Continued Improvement in Personalized Learning is Key

From voice recording and enhanced accessibility tools to AI and mobile-first experiences, a personalized learning approach is evident in emerging eLearning technology. In fact, a recent study by the Center for Digital Education found that personalized learning is the number 1 educational technology priority across the United States

Many institutions cite this trend in eLearning as the “key” to improving student outcomes and transforming the educational system. This is because personalized learning allows students to work at their own pace, without being forced to advance before they are ready. For example, in schools, adaptive content powered by AI could support a student’s individual learning plan, and engage them based on their interests to help them catch up to their peers if they are falling behind. Digital learning tools like these also provide rich individual student feedback to instructors, helping them provide the best support in response.   

Corporate Training is Embracing Technology

More and more, instructors are valuing interactive online testing solutions that are able mimic real-life scenarios. Now, we see these types of digital assessments being deployed not only in classrooms, but also in corporate training environments. According to a report from Tech Jury, corporate eLearning jumped 900% from 2001 to 2017. And it continues to rise. Thanks to today’s VR/AR technologies and custom interactive items, it’s possible for organizations to deploy assessments that test an employee on critical skills “in-the-field” and provide live feedback to their supervisors. With these and new digital assessment technologies available on the horizon, simulated training experiences will likely only increase across organizations in 2020.

Data Systems Must Communicate 

Data has often been underutilized in education, largely due to the fact that the technology systems many institutions have in place do not communicate well. The increasing trend in eLearning towards leveraging interoperable technology makes possible the free exchange of data across an institution or organization’s digital infrastructure. Instructors can now access learner data in real-time thanks to automatic scoring tools and live reporting modules that they can plug into their digital assessment platforms. 

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The last decade marks a watershed in the advancement of eLearning and educational technology. It wasn’t long ago that bringing assessments digital was the pinnacle of innovation. With new technology and ever advancing trends in digital assessment on the rise, its awe inspiring to think of what’s to come in 2020 and beyond.

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