How Technology is Being Used in Digital Learning
In today’s digital age, it may come as no surprise that technology is changing the way we, as a society, perform daily tasks, interact with the world at large and more importantly, how we learn and retain information.
The elearning, or online learning industry is experiencing a boom and is projected to be a $200B industry by 2024. At the same time, the world is awakening to the power of voice-first technology. Voice assistants are proliferating in private homes and voice integration is occurring seemingly everywhere, from our phones to our fridges (even our cities are becoming ‘smart’).
The convergence of a growing learning culture, along with rapid voice tech adoption means that digital learning providers will have to find ways to integrate technologies like AI and voice-first tech, in order to meet the demands of consumers and to maintain a competitive advantage in the market. This affects both private brands as well as public institutions, like universities and colleges.
Let’s take a look first at the different types of tech-based interactions that you could potentially feature in your digital learning platforms and then look at how brands and schools are leveraging voice. We will also look at what the future of tech in digital learning might look like.
Dynamic vs. Static Interactions with Voice Tech in Digital Learning
There are two very different ways in which you can approach how you will integrate AI and voice tech into your online learning modules.
Static Interactions: These are interactions that are one-way interactions. This is the way traditional digital learning is done. A learner signs up for a course and receives video information or audio files of the teacher explaining concepts and terms to them. There are no live question and response interactions.
Dynamic Interactions: These are interactions that are two-way interactions in which the teacher and the student interact as if they were face-to-face. This is traditionally much more difficult to accomplish, although some courses may integrate group chat sessions, such as via Google Hangouts. However, thanks to voice AI, such as Amazon Alexa, it is now possible for the learner to ask a question and, through AI, receive a response back from the ‘teacher.’
A Look At The Best Learning Apps
Now that we know the high level differences between the two main types of AI interactions that could exist in your digital learning platform, we can look at how some of the best learning apps on the market have integrated these different technologies into their teaching style.
Some of the best learning apps are ones that are able to promote a greater message on behalf of their brands and help support overarching marketing initiatives. Here’s how brands are integrating static or dynamic interactions into their courses.
How Brands Create Engagement in Learning Apps
If the goal of the digital learning content you are producing is to create a sense of awareness for your brand, that awareness will eventually (somewhere down the line) lead to direct sales. If the end user is engaged, entertained and learns something new, they are more likely to share their experience with others and create buzz via word of mouth. Take for example, learning language apps and Alexa skills.
Oftentimes, the larger goal of these apps is simply to teach, but by building up strong, dynamic interactive content, the brand creates a reputation for themselves and becomes known as a leader in their industry.
Here are examples of brands who have successfully integrated voice-technologies into their platforms to create engaging content.
Rosetta Stone is an online digital learning platform that develops language learning courses. The dynamic interaction it offers its learners through voice-tech integration sets Rosetta Stone’s digital learning platform apart from other learning platforms.
The engine for this dynamic interaction is their TruAccent speech recognition software. Each learner’s speech is compared to that of thousands of native speakers so that learners can correct their accent and improve their pronunciation. TruAccent provides feedback to learners and helps them learn a language from true native speakers of the language.
This dynamic interaction using AI and voice-technologies allows instantaneous feedback to the learner, which is an efficient way to help learners learn.
A number of universities have started integrating Alexa skills into their courses and into student life in general. Lancaster University in the UK has recently started using Alexa to help navigate the student lifestyle. An Alexa Skill called Ask L.U, lets students book a pod at the library, get updates on campus news and their grades all through voice.
How Brands Create Awareness with Learning Apps
Sometimes the goal of a digital learning course may not be just to engage learners, but also to create brand awareness. This can be done by offering free courses that learners can complete on their own time.
The caveat is that if you want to take more courses on the same topic, courses that are deemed “premium,” or complete a full degree, you will then have to sign up and pay a fee.
The prime example of brands who create awareness for themselves through free online learning courses, are universities and colleges who offer certain courses online for little or no charge. The ultimate goal is to showcase what sets their school apart from other schools in terms of course offerings, create loyalty and to generate enough awareness that you may want to enroll in their school as a full time or part-time student.
Of note, is the fact that most university and college courses offered online are static and don’t necessarily offer the two-way interaction that is the best way to learn for some people and the voice-only integration, is the voice guiding you through the course modules.
Post-secondary level online courses could serve to benefit from AI integrations to give learners instant feedback on answers to questions and stand in for that face-to-face student to teacher interaction.
Coursera is an online learning platform in which learners can pick and choose the courses they want to take from well-known universities across the world. Each course is a pre-designed interactive textbook that features interactive quizzes and videos. Learners also have the ability to engage in discussions with other learners enrolled in the same courses and received assistance and feedback this way. Although the learning style is still a bit static, it offers a more interactive experience than some other online digital learning apps.
A lot of courses on the platform are free, but if learners want to earn a full certificate they will have to pay to enroll.
How Brands Demo Products in Learning Apps
Sometimes the overarching goal of releasing a course for free is to promote a particular service, product or brand. Take the digital learning platform, Udemy, as an example. Udemy is a database for learning different courses offered by different companies.
You can learn, for example how to code like a web developer, or how to use Photoshop. These courses suggest the best products to use, and are often taught and led by someone with a direct tie to the product they are showcasing.
For example, you can learn how to use Docker and how it can fit into your business from the tech team over at Docker. What a great way to simultaneously promote your product and help audiences learn. Again, the content that is provided by Udemy is usually a static interaction.
How You Can Help Others Take Digital Learning to the Next Level
Here are a few future-forward looking ways you can integrate voice-technologies and other technologies into your online learning courses.
Using Voice for Real-Time Questioning
In today’s world where people can quickly search for information online and receive the answer to their questions in mere seconds, it’s important to know what the students actually know and what they want to know.
By integrating AI into your digital learning platforms, you can allow students to ask questions and receive the answers. The student can be self-sufficient and solve the problem they are having on their own by asking the smart device a series of questions until they get the answer they are looking for.
While the end result is the same as typing the question into a search engine, the process of getting there requires a little bit more thought and reasoning.
We will begin to see more bots in coaching and FAQ type of content in which content will be analyzed and questions can be generated.
Appealing to International Audiences
This could be one of AI’s most helpful contributions. Through the use of AI-focused tools and systems that are capable of hearing and interpreting different languages, known as natural language processing (NLP), you can expand the reach of your learning courses to an international audience.
NLP, is a form of AI that analyzes the human language. It is capable of taking many forms, but at the heart of it, NLP helps machines understand and communicate with human speech.
Current applications of VR tend to be very general. What they are missing right now is a language that is specific to learning. Basic VR interactions are stuck in the realm of multiple choice questions. Elearning content creators could create better designs by making use of the potentials of VR and go in the direction of self-guided learning environments.
Rise in Storytelling
“The power of narrative to stir powerful emotions and create conversations is well known,” says Matt Ash, Head of Learning at Media Zoo. “Those qualities mean that film will become critical in the challenge to engage the workforce as we try to tackle widening skills gaps.”
Elearning offers content creators the opportunities to engage more learners through the art of storytelling. Storytelling is a great way to captivate learners and help them retain information over longer periods of time. In her study titled, “This Is Not a Fable: Using Storytelling in a College Classroom to Enhance Student Learning,” Diann Moorman discusses the idea that students are able to recall information tied to storytelling better than information that is presented without the element of storytelling.
We can look forward to the use of more storytelling elements that incorporate the following:
- Relatable characters
- A solid structure with conflict and a resolution
- A realistic story setting
- A personal challenge to the learner
- A revelation (through the use of thought-provoking questions, for example)
The Future of Technology in Online Learning
Taking digital learning to the next level is a key component in the future of technology in the elearning industry. With the increased boom to the elearning industry and more learners adopting this way of engaging with information, creating interactive and engaging digital learning content is crucial to the industry’s future success.
How have you seen or used technology in online learning? Let us know in the comments.
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