Never in the history of education has online learning been so important. But there’s a big difference between teaching online, and providing quality online education, say researchers at the University of South Australia.
UniSA’s Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) focuses on the complex relationship between human and artificial cognition, how it changes society, knowledge processes, and teaching and learning.
As Australia continues to struggle with teacher shortages, investing in education technologies could help relieve teacher workloads and streamline lengthy processes and reporting.
C3L Director, Professor George Siemens is a global expert in education technology. He says incorporating technology into learning is no longer an ‘add on’ but an essential for modern schooling.
“Australia is in the middle of massive shift to online and digital learning, which means that schools need to think about how they can integrate suitable technologies into their teaching,” Prof Siemens says.
“In the past two years, educators across all levels have had to pivot to online teaching methods as they deal with lockdowns from Covid-19. But as teachers, students and parents have told us, moving classes to Zoom or Teams is not a viable long-term solution. Teachers want more and students deserve better.
“Education systems are feeling pressured to initiate change and modernise teaching; they also know that they need to make big decisions around innovation and technology but starting this process can be overwhelming.
“That’s where C3L can help. By working with schools to understand their needs, capacities, and capabilities we can develop flexible, personalised, and tailored systems that not only support student-centred learning, but also capture key analytics to better inform teachers and student supports.”
The C3L team is currently developing solutions for multiple school challenges including technologies that have the greatest impact on student success; how to use data to guide and support students in real time; improving data use to support teachers; artificial intelligence; and ensuring privacy and security of student data.
C3L colleague, UniSA’s Dr Vitomir Kovanovic, says online learning can deliver much needed personalised learning, despite concerns that it is more suited to self-directed study.
“Traditionally online learning has been more common in higher education, as it enables students to operate in a very self-directed, open-ended structure. But primary and secondary students haven’t learnt these skills yet, and schools are very aware of this,” Dr Kovanovic says.
“By developing technologies that cater to individual learners, different teaching methods, while concurrently addressing the ongoing challenges of limited funding and a heavy teacher workload, we can help both teachers and students.
“Quality, online learning that is flexible and personalised is possible - especially when schools and edtech providers work together.”
The original version of this article was a media release from the University of South Australia.