Think back to your school days: apart from lab work in the life sciences, just about every class activity could have been abstracted, coded and put online. From lessons and homework right through to exams and assessments, with the help of Learnosity all these can now be delivered online.
This online education is called e-learning and is revolutionising teaching at all levels. Now you don’t have to travel half way across the world to get a Harvard education, you can just log on to an Ivy League e-learning programme like Edx which is a joint partnership between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.
These courses can be placed fully online or more usually in the case of its application in secondary education it is blended with traditional classroom learning.
The main benefit of this new technology is the flexibility it gives students and teachers. E-learning can be scheduled to suit a professional studying at post-graduate level or someone working and studying part-time.
Also, students have the option of going back to recorded lessons and lectures and without having to decipher hurriedly written notes, saving the tutor time by not having to print out voluminous course materials.
It’s such a powerful teaching technology that e-learning has become a huge industry offering profitable opportunities in just about every country. According to an Ambient Insight Report published in 2013, the global market for self-paced e-learning in 2011 was $35.6 billion. Ambient’s 5 year projection from this point puts the same world market at a valuation of $51.5 billion in 2016 with an aggregated growth rate at 7.6%.
Revenue growth in the developed world is very healthy but the potential in the developing world, where current education systems are chronically underfunded, is huge. Again, Ambient’s reports that the market growth rate is strongest in Asia at 17%, this is to be expected because it has two of the countries, China and India, with the fastest growing professional classes. The region with the second highest growth rate is Eastern Europe at 16.9%.
A huge section of the world’s population is ravenous for a flexible, high quality education solution that might not be available in their own education system. Cue Irish EdTech entrepreneurs Learnosity.
This is an award winning EdTech company that offers assessment, authoring and reporting features to third party clients who are developing e-learning programmes.
Learnosity was founded by Gavin Cooney and Mark Lynch in 2006. Cooney is currently CEO and Lynch is CTO. It has offices in Dublin and Sydney with plans to expand further into the US.
The target buyers are publishers and testing bodies servicing the education sector comprised of secondary and primary schools worldwide. The offering has three parts: Assessment, Authoring and Reporting.
Learnosity’s assessment software has an array of different kinds of questions. They aim to have 48 distinct types by early 2014. The questions are interactive and range from the simple multiple choice type to more sophisticated drag and drop questions where students drag and drop the correct answer to the appropriate field on a graphic or diagram. The topics covered are a full sweep from geometry or algebra to history.
The assessment function also includes features where the teacher can correct the student’s work; they can add a comment and even an audio comment which is useful if the assessment is for a language course and the teacher needs to correct the candidate’s pronunciation. Clients are free to select any of the modules or individual questions in the Learnosity tool kit.
“The beauty of the Learnosity offering is its embedded nature – it’s completely invisible within any third party product – a student or teacher using a Learnosity element has no idea that they’re using Learnosity.”
Gavin Cooney, CEO Learnosity speaking to EdTech Times. January 15, 2014.
The client isn’t limited by stock questions, they can develop and configure their own questions using the full range of question types that Learnosity offers. This gives even more flexibility to the educators and developers designing their e-learning assessments.
Tracking student progress is incredibly important for educators. Learnosity’s reporting function offers a way for client end users to track student performance over a range of topics and also over questions of increasing difficulty. This enables tutors to identify knowledge gaps before major exams and make revision classes more effective. Clients can also develop their own reports via a reporting API.
As you can see from the VT below, Learnosity were involved with a number of Irish schools in the Fón project which according the the report, was a great success.
Education has a much broader purpose than simply imparting of knowledge. For all successful societies it is the means of socialising the young. So it’s highly unlikely that e-learning, with its inevitable isolation from other students, will replace traditional classroom based learning.
But it is critical as a complementary tool to help young people improve their school performance or help adult students retake the education that they might have missed out on previously.
And of course it creates a means of enriching the talent pool in the developing world which is good news for those industries that are currently being held back by lack of talent. The future is going to be very bright for e-learning and for those who benefit from it.