Opinion: Future-gazing to enhance the student experience

As education technology advances and niche providers specialise in particular areas of the learning experience, it’s becoming easier to mix and match the best platforms and technologies to provide students with an increasingly compelling experience.

Traditionally the Learning Management System (LMS) has been the centrepiece of the online learner’s experience. While this will continue to be the case for a number of reasons, what we have increasingly seen over the last few years is a disaggregation of the LMS space into an ecosystem of specialised solutions.

One opportunity that has arisen is to replace the traditional LMS with Canvas LMS. This platform is a contemporary system that was designed with the online learner in mind and with a technology stack that allows easy and seamless integration with a host of specialist solutions.

The future of learning on mobile devices

Many online students are leading busy lives and want to be able to optimise the time they have available to study. Having the ability to use their mobile phones or tablets as a study tool, even in short bursts of time, is very important to them. Therefore, it is crucial to enhance the mobile experience.

However, it’s not only important to understand what students expect from the mobile user experience now, but to anticipate what they will look to do in the future. If you look at the banking industry, the customers are much more comfortable, and in fact more demanding, of the use of mobile banking features than they were even a few years ago.

The proliferation of mobile devices, focus on customer needs, advances in security and increased customer confidence have fuelled this in banking and we see a parallel trend occurring in education as students understand and demand a more mobile experience.

Sitting exams online

Advances in education technology are not only providing convenience and flexibility for students, but are in fact driving an enhanced student experience, as well as providing opportunities for students’ efforts to be validated and recognised.

Our live, supervised online exam service enables our regional and remote students to log on and complete their exams in the most convenient location for them. This eliminates the need for paper exams to be sent, students no longer have to go to an exam location and no supervisors are required.

This offering has additional benefits for students aside from convenience. Research tells us that students perform better in exams in a familiar environment, ideally similar to the one in which they have done their learning. Online exams allow students to be tested for knowledge in a setting they are used to and comfortable with, which in turn allows them to perform at their best.

The combination of online exam technology with the use of various authentication methods (for example keystroke pattern recognition) over the student learning lifecycle means we can ensure the person sitting an exam is the same person who has contributed over the duration of study. This gives students the confidence they are operating on a level playing field with their peers and further enhances the credibility of qualifications for employers.

Infinite opportunities: Augmented and simulated reality

To stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to learn more about advances in technology that aren’t necessarily directly related to education and testing the potential application of these into the education space.

Some examples of these are technologies delivering Augmented Reality, which involves creating something digital and placing it in the real world, or Simulated Reality which involves creating a whole new digital reality.

Devices like goggles and gloves allow you to see, touch and manipulate objects in an augmented world. Consider the application of this for a nursing student, for example. There is the potential to offer them a virtual experience which could allow them to gain experience and confidence, before physically going into the nursing environment.

I see huge potential in technologies that don’t currently have students and their studies in mind. Many of these advances will most likely lead to the most exciting advances to learning in the future.

Matt Parker is the General Manager of Operations and IT for OES. With extensive experience in establishing and enhancing IT and operational platforms through roles at SEEK, Coles Myer and Price Waterhouse in Australia and the US, Matt is particularly passionate about the role technology can play in online learning.