Demand for Education Professionals at Risk?

A thought-provoking piece from our UX Designer, Adam Pattenden, on the development of e-learning and its potential impact on the traditional education system.

Education losing in catch- up with digital tech

I’ve always had a great interest in how theory and practice of education (known as pedagogy) can be enhanced through the utilisation of technology. During my time in education, I often found myself feeling frustrated by the lack of effective use of technology - not that it wasn't used, but that it wasn’t being used to it’s full potential across the spectrum of subjects studied. Even today, 11 years after completing my compulsory education in the UK, I still notice indicators that our education system has not evolved at the same pace as digital technologies.

The term ‘e-Learning’ is often used to define an online database of learning resources, updated by teachers and downloaded by students. We have been unable to fully make use of the potential of e-Learning ecologies within the digital space.

Education professionals not opposed to the tech

As a UX designer, I often find myself exploring peoples behaviours, attitudes and emotions when using or experiencing digital solutions. Understanding the roles and requirements of each user’s journey within the system, how they relate and interact with each other and the system itself, is fundamental to creating a successful and retentive experience. I have had many a discussion with education professionals who are trying to facilitate the evolution of the teacher/facilitator role within the classroom and are advocates for using technology as an enabler, as opposed to simply being used as a digital learning resource.

Digital tutors on the rise

The systemic problem, I feel, is the lack of interest or uptake in technology from the generation X era of teaching professionals. This might be due to these professionals not having the time to learn new technologies, or perhaps they are fearful that digital tutors could reduce the demand for teaching professionals in the future. Whatever the reason, the resistance to make full use of these technologies, is hugely restrictive to the uptake and evolution of e-Learning. 

A shift in traditional learning methods

It is clear that students are becoming extremely technologically literate, as it has evolved to become a proprietary function within their daily lives. The result of this is a flip in the didactic classroom paradigm, as students now become conduits of technology for the generation X teachers – one I feel that they are not prepared to adopt, taken out of the role of teacher, and effectively revert to being the ‘student’- something they perhaps struggle to adopt at a subconscious level.

Eventually I believe there will be a shift in educational norms that advocates technology as an enabler as the workforce moves to a generation Y majority. It is also a key development for the learners as we are seeing they are ever more connected to web 3.0 “the internet of things”, where information and knowledge is consumed and managed outside of traditional learning environments.

Technology: Here to help, not hinder

Once this shift has been accepted, advanced e-Learning platforms will be required that connect learners with a network of peers and facilitators that can help them adsorb knowledge, collaborate on subjects and learn 24/7. Teachers will remain as an integral part of the system with their roles evolving to allow them to become facilitators of learning, rather than primarily focusing on the didactic transfer of knowledge. Either way, education professionals should breathe a sigh of relief. Technology is here to enable, not replace your role in teaching. 

What do you think about the role of technology in the future of e-Learning? Join in the discussion by posting a comment below. Alternatively, you can tweet us @dbsdigital or find us on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.


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