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Connected learners: 10 trends to watch

In this information age, where 24-hour connectivity is as much a part of our modern lives as wearing shoes, one key aspect of society struggling to keep up with these changes is education institutions.

Schools and tertiary institutions, and the learning therein, have remained largely unchanged since the 19th century. Pupils still sit in rows of desks, reading words on a board at the front of the class, words put there by a well-educated adult, sometimes several years ago. But how many of us went to work this morning wearing top hats or leopard skin - or riding a horse and cart for that matter?

With the dawn of the mobile phone, digital information and wireless connectivity, society is changing faster than it possibly ever has. Indeed, a staggering 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone (according to IBM).

Schools have the responsibility to educate the next generation and to prepare that generation with the skills and knowledge required for learning, life and work. But society now moves at such a fast pace that the jobs which will one day be filled by our current students have not yet been invented. It is imperative then, that schools provide students with the ability to learn for themselves, to adapt to new technologies and systems, and to create their own strategies for coping.

"Being online comes naturally to most of our students these days, but they tend to see their time online as 'social' rather than 'useful'. Why not tap into that space? Connected learners of the future will use every day Web tools and social media platforms to enhance learning and teaching. Mobile phones will become a medium of instruction and learning will be localised as well as globalised," according to Delvin Munsamy, Digital Marketing Manager at Rosebank College. Let us explore the top 10 trends to watch out for that will become a reality for connected learners of the future.

Mobile-based courses

Mobile technology is a growing and powerful trend. As an indication, Africa is dubbed the mobile continent and researchers predict that internet use on mobile phones will increase 20 fold on the continent in the next five years -double the ratio of growth in the rest of the world. With this said mobiles will be used in the same way as computers to house and disseminate learning material for students of the future.

Mobile APP analytics

With the proliferation of mobile-based courses, mobile analytics will play a vital role in understanding learner interaction and behaviour with such courses by monitoring app traffic and engagement.

Bite sized learning

Mobile is being projected as the ultimate medium for immediate support which should come in easily digestible and immediately useful information nuggets. One of the criticisms of the digital generation is that they have short attention spans. Educators are taking note and are creating learning tools that offer snack-sized bites of learning for students.

Gamefication of course work

According to a survey conducted by M2 Research, almost 80% of learners say they would be more productive if their institution was more game-like. Learners remember 90% if they do the work themselves, even if it's only a simulation. Taking short quizzes and assessments on the mobile is also on the rise, and this trend is projected to continue.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is already making big waves, with new apps such as Aurasma, learning is literally coming to life. In the future, students will be able to scan a page of their homework and a video of their teacher explaining a related concept could pop up or book reviews will be available by simply scanning a barcode on the book.

eBooks dominate

Amazon.com is one of the largest retailers of books, but in the past year, their sales of eBooks have outstripped that of traditional books. The eBook is steadily becoming a popular part of everyday life for so many around the globe and the digital book is slowly making its way into the classroom as well. It is very likely that in the future ebooks will dominate virtual bookshelves.

Bring your own device classrooms

Since most students today already have access to mobile devices, schools are seizing the opportunity to turn these distractions into learning tools by incorporating these devices into classroom lessons and projects. From mobile phones to laptop computers teachers and students are increasingly bringing their own technology into the classroom.

Online collaborative learning

Most places these days have Internet connection and many people can now access the Web from almost anywhere they can get a cellphone signal. Schools are embracing the Web as a learning tool in a variety of ways, but one particular exciting one has to be the growth of online collaborative learning. This can mean a variety of things, but in many cases it involves students each participating in a project on the Web.

Social media learning

When it was first created, Facebook was solely a place for college students to connect with one another. Today just about everyone has a profile on the site. Educators have begun using it as a way to connect with students, spark discussion and relay important assignment information. While social media in education is still a tricky area, as sites like Twitter and Facebook evolve, the ways they're used in the classroom will likely become more refined and potentially more powerful in creating a better educational experience.

The rise of the tablet

Tablet computers come in many shapes and sizes, but as they grow smaller and more portable, they are becoming a fairly common addition to the classroom. Great for doing everything from studying the periodic table to playing educational games. The app-based device has become a necessity in schools across the world.

With the proliferation of technology, educators are challenged to deliver and facilitate teaching in many new ways, and are discovering the potential technology has on advancing learning.

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1997 (reg. no. 2007/HE07/002). Company registration number: 1987/004754/07.

The IIE Rosebank College

The IIE Rosebank College is dedicated to providing students with a solid foundation, creating future thinkers to build successful careers. The IIE's quality, accredited courses have a strong technological focus enabling you to thrive in today's working world.

Study at its Braamfontein, Auckland Park, Pretoria CBD, Pretoria Sunnyside or Durban campuses and enroll for an IIE degree, diploma or higher certificate. It is a worthy higher education partner for all students who entrust it with their career development. For more information please visit www.rosebankcollege.co.za and www.iie.ac.za.