Institutions are looking to Next Gen VLE platforms for innovative and cost-effective ways to meet growing global pressures.
Around the world, education providers are under growing pressure to maintain strong results and improve performance levels, all the while meeting student expectations and adhering to shrinking budgets.
We are seeing new teaching methods and practices being implemented – from flipped learning models that reverse the learning environment to encourage greater student-teacher collaboration inside the classroom; blended learning which incorporates both traditional and digital instruction; and adaptive learning programmes that tailor to each individual’s ability. The student demographic is also changing, with older, part-time and increasingly mobile individuals looking to learn at their own pace, wherever they are located. Education providers are subsequently looking for new, innovative and cost-effective ways to meet these demands.
Education technology (edtech) is helping make this happen. Undoubtedly, technology in the classroom helps students develop necessary skills for the digital world but it also opens up opportunities for a much more fluid learning experience. In addition, it helps contain costs, which, from a practical point of view, is extremely important for education providers facing numerous funding cuts. Schools in England for example, face the possibility of real term cuts in per pupil funding over the next three years while in Germany, expenditure per tertiary level student has been put at 10 per cent lower than it was in 2008.
These budget constraints, together with the need to deliver continuous improvement, are driving schools and higher education institutions to seek out proven new ways of delivering learning. By combining edtech with traditional forms of teaching, learning providers can attain a powerful means of achieving results, while benefitting from a strong return on investment (ROI).
Three Cost-Cutting Benefits of Edtech
Edtech saves time and cuts costs by:
- Reducing reliance on manual resources – digital content delivery lowers printing costs and the reliance on physical printed content and copy
- Being flexible and scalable – online material can be quickly and efficiently updated and distributed, and the format is adaptable to changes in student numbers
- Introducing automation – course management is made more efficient by automating administrative activities as Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business discovered. Advanced analytics also measures and assesses student progress, reducing the burden on reporting and record keeping, and freeing up staff to focus on other activities.
In the U.S., curriculum redesign using technology-enhanced learning delivered average savings of 31 percent through reduced cost of delivery. Efficiencies were achieved through sharing common resources, course management systems that tracked student progress, automated assessments, and appropriately skilled and trained staff being assigned for the type of support required.
Cost savings didn’t come at the expense of quality either. In fact, 72 percent of projects delivered improved student outcomes.
Virtual Learning Environments
Whether cost savings are a primary or additional objective, technology opens up a realm of opportunities for new and improved content delivery and personalized learning.
With a virtual learning environment (VLE) like Brightspace, institutions can deliver the right content at the right time through adaptive learning. Learning is personalized to meet each person’s needs through a blend of content that can include videos, gaming and e-portfolios. Moreover, students have the independence to learn inside and outside the classroom on mobile devices. The collaborative nature of the technology encourages interaction between students and teachers, as well as student groups. This is facilitated through platforms that feel familiar in the way they look and work from students’ experience of social media. In essence, a VLE allows education providers to reach every learner™.
From a student perspective, a VLE is appealing as it utilises their digital skills and encourages engagement in a way that they feel comfortable. Furthermore, students gain access to information that helps them take ownership of their own progress. In fact, a huge 81 percent of students in Nottingham increased their study time after seeing their own engagement data. Over time, sophisticated analytics and measurement can provide course insight at an increasingly granular level. This can be used for continuous course improvement, in terms of content and delivery, which enables educators to modernise study programmes and add the level of interaction and flexibility that students often crave. This may improve student engagement, and subsequently, improve performance and retention rates. After gamifying a Sustainability course at Mohawk College, Brightspace improved the student pass rate from 63 percent to 83 percent.
With pressures from students, authorities, and teachers, education providers are constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance the learning experience and make efficiencies. Technology is key, with the benefits often too important for institutions to work at justifying spend through an understanding of ROI. It is worth noting, however, that technologies such as a VLE, cannot be adopted in an ad hoc fashion. There does need to be some form of planning, from preparing teachers on how to use the new tools, to addressing any digital equality issues that may exist within the educational environment. With the right support, however, these are easy obstacles to overcome. When implementing Brightspace, the expertise, technology, and support are all included. In fact, Ovum rated Brightspace the number one for innovation, student performance and retention, customer engagement, accessibility and ongoing support and training.
In the long term, edtech is a worthwhile investment, with tools having a proven record of maximising student engagement, and reducing hard costs through automation, scalability, and flexibility.
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