CONTACT NORTH | CONTACT NORD'S TOP TEN WISH LIST FOR ONLINE LEARNING IN 2019
Niels Bohr, the Nobel prize winning physicist, liked to quote an old Danish proverb: “It is very hard to predict, especially about the future”.
To be clear, Contact North | Contact Nord’s Top Ten Wish List for Online Learning in 2019 is not predictions – it contains “wishes” for online learning in 2019. A “wish” is the desire, the hope and the aspiration that something will happen. The wishes Contact North I Contact Nord lists here are focused on what really matters: students, their experience and their success and what helps more students succeed in their learning journey.
To give this list structure, it is based on the program tracks for ONLINE LEARNING 2019 Global Summit & EdTech Expo - Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age – an event that willl bring over 1,500 online learning faculty, professionals and experts from all over the world to Toronto from October 8-10, 2019. The hundreds of submissions received for previous editions of this Summit, such as ONLINE LEARNING 2018, provide insights into what is occurring around the world and what is likely to happen in the next 12 to 36 months. Some of the presentations also indicate what is missing and what needs to happen, even if few developments are currently occurring.
The history of online learning and open education is full of individuals who, despite being surrounded by naysayers, got on with it and made things happen. This “can-do” mentality is what we need. It is what enabled online learning to get to where it is today – everywhere.
Offering this list is intended to encourage, challenge, inspire and enable. Let us collectively make 2019 the year of breakthroughs in authentic, engaging and effective online learning and teaching.
ONLINE LEARNING 2019 Track – Access, Openness and Flexibility
- Wish #1: Dramatic Improvements in Literacy Through Smart Technologies
In August 2019, the Barbara Bush X Prize for literacy will be awarded to the team who can accelerate adult literacy by creating mobile solutions that improve access, encourage persistence, develop relevant learning content, and scale nationwide and achieve real learning outcomes.
Literacy is a massive challenge around the world, including in Canada: 20% of those entering a college or university have literacy levels below those needed to be successful in the program of study they are enrolled in and 43% of the Canadian workforce does not have the literacy skills needed to be effective in the jobs they are hired to do.
The World Bank suggests some 500 million students around the world have poor levels of essential skills. Organizations like Cell-Ed are having a real impact on literacy and essential skills using smartphones. The wish here is the X Prize stimulates more and more development and deployment of solutions to a global challenge.
- Wish #2: Greater Advances in Gender Equity Through Online Learning
Women and girls need more access to learning at all levels of education – primary, secondary, post-secondary, online learning and open schooling, and education resources can all contribute to this goal.
Changing the status of women can be transformative for communities. Some progress was made and online learning, flexible learning and the use of co-operative and peer networks are making a real difference, as demonstrated by work of the Commonwealth of Learning. Real advances also occurred in higher education, but more needs to be done.
In Canada, increasing the number of young men in higher education is a desirable development. Canadian women aged 25 to 64 are 17% more likely than Canadian men to have a tertiary education. Canadian colleges and universities graduated 90 men for every 100 women in 1998–1999; this fell to 83 men for every 100 women by 2010.
ONLINE LEARNING 2019 Track - Course Design, Delivery and Development
- Wish #3: More Engaging Course Designs Which are Fun Become Ubiquitous
Let us see 2019 as the year in which course design focuses relentlessly on student engagement, authentic and meaningful learning, genuine peer-to-peer project work and a lot of laughter and fun.
Singapore adopted the mantra some time ago “teach less, learn more” and this should be the mantra for all who design online learning experiences. Making use of smart tools – chatbots, video interaction, augmented and artificial reality, simulations, and games – can help, but the real “trick” here is to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning and develop their skills of learning how to learn.
- Wish #4: We Make Extensive Use of Smart Technology to Automate Course Development
The Washington Post published close to 850 articles in 2018 year written entirely using artificially intelligent content writing engine known as Heliograf. The Post is exploring ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies can support in-depth analysis and reporting.
Course developers can do the same. Knowledge mining and initial drafting by an engine like Heliograf can reduce the development time for a new course while ensuring the information it contains is up to date.
Adaptive learning, which makes use of smart technology to help students who learn at different paces, is also an option here. Rather than feel threatened by this kind of development, we should be encouraged – we can do better work in less time.
ONLINE LEARNING 2019 Track - Assessment, Analytics and Student Success
- Wish #5: Real Advances In Completion Rates For Indigenous Students
The fastest growing populations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand are Indigenous peoples.
In Canada, college diploma rates are now equalized at 23% of the population (Indigenous / non-Indigenous) and Indigenous students do slightly better in completing apprenticeships than others (12% versus 11%), but for university degrees, Indigenous students are still significantly disadvantaged (11% versus 29%).
Similar patterns exist in Australia and New Zealand. In other parts of the world, Indigenous students have significant gaps in learning outcomes when compared to other groups in their nations. Closing the gap is good for all and online support services, flexible learning, peer support, mentoring and coaching can make a real difference.>
- Wish #6: More Use is Made of Automated Assessment Systems for More Flexible and Authentic Assessment
More tools are available to support on-demand assessment.
Whether these are automated item generators, automated marking systems or intelligent supports for assessment, we will see increases in their deployment over the next few years. This is a good thing. It enables faculty members to focus more on supporting students, less on assessment and enables students to be assessed when they feel they are ready to be assessed.
Intelligent assessment systems are becoming much more sophisticated – we are way past multiple-choice being the only way of machine marking, with systems now emerging, which can undertake basic skills assessment with video or mark complex essays.
ONLINE LEARNING 2019 Track - Technology, Innovation and Pedagogy
- Wish #7: A Significant Growth in the Developments Associated with e-Apprenticeship and e-Skills
Around the world, in part due to shifting demographics and changing technologies, there are skills shortages, especially in a variety of trades.
We must find ways of using creative, innovative pedagogy for online apprenticeship focused on skills. We can already make significant use of video-based assessment of skills to reduce the time taken to master skills while increasing the veracity of assessment. We can make use of smart glasses, video technologies and virtual and augmented realities to accelerate skills development. We can make use of chatbots and AI to better support students.
It’s time to address the skills gaps before they become chasms.
- Wish #8: More Faculty Members Explore and Use the Variety of Tools Now Available to Support Engaged Learning
There are so many powerful ways of creating engaging online experiences that are finding their way into online courses and learning experiences, as a perusal of Contact North | Contact Nord’s Pockets of Innovation Series demonstrates.
Video is easy, free and easy to edit. Simulations can be built quickly using proven and effective tools. Faculty and instructors can find quality learning resources through a simple web search.
In many organizations, PowerPoint slides are now discouraged so more engaging and focused conversations can take place. New collaboration tools, tools for peer-to-peer learning and project work and chatbots to support student learning 24-7 are all becoming low cost (if not free) and easy to use. We can work to make learning a rich and fulsome experience.
ONLINE LEARNING 2019 Track - Faculty, Staff and Institutional Development
- Wish #9: More Faculty and Instructors Experiment and Explore the Boundaries of Online Learning
Contact North | Contact Nord’s Pockets of Innovation Series is full of examples of faculty and instructors around the world experimenting and innovating to improve the learning experience of their students and improve the outcomes from that learning.
Indeed, faculty and instructional designers drove the innovation agenda since online learning began in 1994. Whatever happens in 2019, this will continue but the wish is more faculty and instructors share their innovations and more use this sharing to improve their own teaching and design work. We advance online learning by adopting and adapting these developments.
- Wish #10: More Colleges and Universities Invest in the Professional Development of Faculty and Instructors Teaching Online
Some colleges and universities made significant investments and provide substantial supports to faculty and instructors who are beginning their journey as designers, developers and delivery faculty for online learning.
There are world-class learning resources developed and deployed to support faculty and instructors. But not all colleges and universities do this and not all faculty and instructors who are working experienced this learning.
The wish is more and more faculty and instructors not only seek but have access to these resources worldwide. This could improve outcomes, help courses be more engaging and support the faster development and adoption of open educational resources (OER).
The Contact North | Contact Nord Top Ten Wish List for Online Learning is 2019 is focused on making a difference to students and those who teach them. We are all committed to increasing access and success in higher education in creative ways which fully leverage technology and other resources available to us. Contact North I Contact Nord offers these ten wishes in this spirit. Let us make them happen.