Friday, October 14, 2016

Advancing the Way Students Learn Through the Use of Technology

By George Moore, Chief Technology Officer, Cengage Learning
Massachusetts is home to more than one hundred higher education institutions.  There are 35 colleges and universities in the greater Boston area alone.  Every day, I am reminded of the importance of lifelong learning.  Along with better employment opportunities and greater access to financial resources, education instills confidence and a sense of accomplishment in people.
While the significance of continuing education cannot be understated, neither can the need for learning materials to evolve to meet students where they are in their education and life journey.   
Digitizing learning materials is about much more than turning a traditional print textbook into an ebook, or programming true or false questions.  While the ease and speed of content delivery has improved, the heart of the education transformation is in how students interact with learning material.  And further, how that interaction impacts outcomes.

Through the use of technology, students can experience an education environment that is personalized to their individual needs.  There is no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to delivering the most effective learning methods.  Technology has allowed for data analysis that shows individual learning paths and progress, which triggers content that is tailored to abilities.

Through data analysis, digital learning platforms figure out what each individual knows and provides real-time recommendations on what to study next. This approach represents a new student-centric model of digital innovation for the education industry. 

This technology can provide students with feedback and personalized study plans that supplement the classroom experience.  Instructors can be alerted immediately when a student begins to struggle with a concept or falls behind in class. This allows for early intervention and a better likelihood of the student finding their way back on track.  

From an instructor’s standpoint, technology has enabled the creation of customized courses comprised of original work, Open Education Resources (OER) and published content.  This is what instructors tell us they need to build the most meaningful courses for their students.  While professors used to get one piece of content, a textbook, we now give them hundreds of thousands of pieces of content that they can move around.  

While some instructors have been slower to move to use technology, we’re finding that others are insatiable about how many features they want added to their digital learning solutions.  We have added feature after feature to help them meet students where they are, with the right tools, at the right time, to improve outcomes.  

Print textbooks are not going away for good any time soon.  Some subjects lend themselves better to digital adoption than others.  I go to work every day, however, with the whole-hearted belief that technology is advancing the way students learn. 

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