Educational software and technology in general is the backbone of future education. It remains to be seen whether online learning takes that role. Online learning has a lot to work out for itself before it can take that place.
All instructors from preK to higher education need to get friendly with educational technology. Each generation is more tech savvy and educators do their students a disservice by ignoring what will be a part of the global economy. It is no longer about what we like to use, but what we need to use in order to make education competitive. Online education holds great promise for the future. But there are a few shortcomings also:
- Glitchy software. The software must become as seamless as possible. Right now, often students have to be referred to computers when there are mobile apps, because the apps lack something that makes them unable to record a comment or hear a video or even locate what they are instructed to find.
- Good customer service. An ed-tech product must have the best customer service in dealing with any problem, not to mention great instructions online on how to use their software. They should answer emails right away, give practical advice and care about presenting a good product. This will keep the students coming back.
- Online education is a lot more work for instructors, and there has not been any compensation that addresses that level of preparation. Many instructors go into online teaching as they think it makes them competitive. Then they realize they are taking on 30% to 40% more work than their in-class teaching peers. Many leave as they don't see the point.
- People who teach online need to use different tools. Being tech savvy just isn't enough. It is teaching, it is creating community, it is developing assignments that fit the medium without ignoring the quality of the course. Just as some students don't belong in online classes, some instructors need to avoid it as well, or make the mental adjustment.
- Some instructors turn online teaching into a correspondence course. That is a waste of time, nor is it online teaching. Anyone can email an instructor an assignment. Not everyone can show that they read the books through other means: videos, online tests, mindmaps, charts, presentations.
- Some students think that they should do less work because they are taking an online course. They get very unhappy with the glitches and rightfully so, but fail to recognize that this is part of the program. If a student wants to avoid being in a regular classroom, he or she will have to compensate for that absence. That may mean time in front of a computer, doing repetitive actions until it goes right. It is a drag. A lot of instructors are stuck with the same problem.
When used to its full potential, online education has been shown to be more effective than pure face-to-face instruction. It can be engaging, fun and tailored to ?t almost anyone?s schedule. But first, these shortcomings definitely need to be ironed out.