Last week I attended the annual ELCC conference in Vail, Colorado. The keynote speakers and presentations focused on the future of education, particularly online education, and I left wondering how institutions and content developers could keep up with the advancing technology and measure up to learners’ expectations in the near future.
Presenters predicted that mobile learning particularly on devices like cell phones would be an important tool for students in the very near future if not already. However, learning management systems and content are often difficult to view easily on mobile devices today. Deeply layered links and images slow the loading and effectiveness of content on these devices. Will we need to customize our courses or provide viewing alternatives for our students?
Other presentations focused on creating dynamic, interactive, multi-media in courses to engage students with content in new ways. Some idea were short video intros, podcasts, cartoonish mock interviews, and content mixed with music using tools using tools like Animoto, xtranormal , and dvolver. While these are interesting and entertaining, how can educators try new tools and still meet the ADA laws?
Additionally, a number of presentations discussed the use of tools like Second Life for student social interaction and collaboration. The learning curve with these tools right now is problematic, but I also saw an interesting presentation on the use of Google Wave for collaboration and communication among students which appeared much simpler than virtual worlds. Are educators of the future also responsible for creating social networks for students?
What do you see as the future of online education and digital content, and how will you keep up?