The education landscape is changing and there are more types of learner than ever before – part-time, full-time, distance and online. People want and need to learn in different ways which support their preferred styles so it’s important that we ‘meet demand’ and give learners what they want, when they want it.
we have adopted and implemented e-learning materials to support students through their training and training providers in their delivery. With a large part of our qualifications already computer based – particularly assessments – it made sense to develop e-learning at the same time.
We did research with a large pool of our students to gather insight into the type of materials that would provide solutions to their problems and soon realised that the best approach would be to develop supportive e-learning tools in-house.
The benefit of developing these tools ourselves is that we are in a strong position to deliver course content quickly, make amends in-house rather than relying on suppliers and, most importantly, react quickly to the changing needs of our students, training providers and members.
From a global perspective e-learning opens doors. Distance is no longer a barrier and learners are able to access and share information from virtually anywhere in the world. Most now have their own digital device and this has changed the way they work and interact in a classroom and study environment.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is making significant inroads in the business world. Around 75% of employees in high growth markets (such as Brazil and Russia) and 44% in developed markets already use their own technology (handsets, tablets, notebooks etc.) at work. In most cases, businesses simply can't block the trend.
Some believe that BYOD helps employees be more productive. Others say it increases employee morale and makes a company appear more flexible and attractive as an employer.
Learners at colleges and in the work place are becoming smarter about the way they learn so organisations need to continually develop e-learning content to keep ahead of market trends.
BYOD comes with its challenges so naturally, employers and tutors may be hesitant when using it. These include making sure that:
- security breaches are not broken
- software is protected from viruses
- data is safe and secure
- devices are used in an appropriate manner.
There is no universal answer to the challenges that advancements in technology bring but we can’t fight it. Like it or not, people of all ages are bringing their own devices into the work and learning environment and this will only continue to become more common moving forward.
Innovative employers and training providers are finding ways to make this work by setting rules and enforcing them. There is software available that can help monitor multiple devices which is ideal for a classroom environment.
It’s safe to say that classrooms of the future will need to support the use of multiple devices as they are developed and enhanced, and as new products come to market. Learners in the same room will work in different ways using different tools that are effective for them. Teachers will need to become expert ‘facilitators’. This does not mean ditching old classroom methods but learning how to enhance the experience for all learners whatever their dominant learning style.
The future is bright in the virtual learning world but we need to be bold and allow new methods of learning to flourish.
Jane Scott Paul is the Chief Executive at AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).