The World Health Organization recently declared an end to COVID-19 global health emergency. That means that it is no longer a threat to our everyday lives as it used to be. Not only did COVID-19 damage our health, but it also altered the course of the regular things we did like studying.
It became the phenomenon that made us shift from face-to-face education to online education. This changed the sphere of software development requiring more apps suitable for digital learning.
Statistics suggest that over 1.5 billion students worldwide switched to online learning during the pandemic. Thus, for a smoother transition educational institutions and centers needed thorough digital transformation plans. This is the legacy of COVID-19.
It left behind the culture of online learning which will retain its rightful place in modern education.
Thus, having experienced the practice of online learning, lots of people use it as an alternative for face-to-face education. This brings out the need to design more developed education software to enhance the learning outcomes of the students.
Benefits of educational software development
1. Enhancing learning experiences
What the development of education software has done is minimize the distance between the learner and the teacher. Thus, you can access the given knowledge from any corner of the world if you have a gadget and Internet access.
One of the benefits of education software is the organization of content. In the physical world, the documents and educational material can be stored in several rooms or drawers but with educational software, you can have it in place and never lose it.
This also comes in handy when sharing the information with others; you won’t have to hand out copies of the same document, you just share the digital version and you’re all set.
Educational software also helps track student progress and behavior. Once the teacher has the student report ready it will be on the educational software and the students along with their parents will be able to access that.
Educational software development may also benefit the educational institution or center economically. In times of crisis, to cut some costs on things such as rent, taxes, bills, or learning materials. In this case, the only thing you’ll have to pay for is the Internet.
Some of the trends and advancements in education software technology are collaborative learning, social media in learning, interactivity, immersive learning (AR and VR), gamification, and personalized learning. Those will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
Educational software is beneficial for teachers as well since it reduces their workload. There are tools that will grade tests, check homework and perform other time-consuming tasks.
In the light of digital advancement, student engagement increases thanks to technologies like Artificial intelligence (AI), Augmented reality (AR), and Virtual reality (VR).
For example, VR can transport students to historical locations, virtual labs, or makeshift realities which can cover the topic they’re studying. Students can also become virtual astronauts and explore space with the help of VR.
Machine learning is a sub-concept of AI which has a crucial role in digital education. So what is machine learning? Machine learning helps computers learn autonomously without being programmed to do so.
Machine learning uses self-improving algorithms which can process data, identify repeated patterns and analyze key metrics. It is thanks to machine learning and analysis adaptive learning applications, data analytics software for tracking student performance or other elearning platforms’ recommendation engines exist.
Machine learning features like natural language processing (NLP) recognize language and visual patterns, thus as a result it can imitate inherent human abilities which is the basis behind virtual tutors, educational robots, real-time translation apps, and so on.
Another benefit of educational software is enhancing the engagement of students by implementing online resources such as crash courses, simulations, or interactive quizzes.
You can boost participation and group work involvement with apps like Google products (Docs, Slides, Sheets) where students can contribute to content creation simultaneously. This will also develop teamwork and collaboration skills amongst the students which are lifelong qualifications.
2. Deeper engagement and personalized learning
Educational software development is also advantageous for personalized learning. For example, teachers can use adaptive learning software which will meet the students' needs. So, how does this work?
Adaptive learning software accumulates all the necessary material for the course and offers students quizzes, tasks, or further learning materials based on their activity.
Some students might sail through the studies, while others might struggle and this is how adaptive learning software recommends the appropriate learning material which will help the under-achievers succeed.
There are several types of learning styles and the main ones are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. So, how can education software address different learning styles?
Those who are visual learners can grasp the material through visual aids like PowerPoint or Google Slides or simple teaching blogs on YouTube like TedEd.
Classes with Zoom help auditory learners since they learn through listening. Kinesthetic learners need to be involved in an interactive activity to conceive the material and this is where gamification steps in.
3. Gamification and interactive learning
Going back to our personal childhood experiences it’s safe to say that the things cemented in our brains were learned through games.
Times might have changed but the concept remains the same. Virtual gamification has come to replace physical gamification. So, how does gamification enhance learning?
Studies have shown that 67% of students claimed that learning through games motivates them more than conventional studying methods. Something learned through fun activities tends to stick to us better than just simple reading. For example, assessing the learned knowledge through platforms like Kahoot might be beneficial for students. Games also create healthy competition and believe it or not every student wants to excel over their peers, hence they’ll learn more and better.
Gamification in education has several types:
- Cosmetic/visual enhancement (when they use game visuals and design elements to vivify the curriculum)
- Accessory (when the student is awarded badges, points, or is charted on a leaderboard)
- Integrated (when it’s not only one part of the program that’s gamified but the entirety of it)
Of course, along with the benefits, there are also disadvantages of education development software, especially for educators, which are:
- Lack of professional training for using the software
- Unstable internet connection hence resulting in interruptions and misdelivery of the content
- Unable to adapt to the changes
- Students might get distracted
- Lack of appropriate technology by students
Surely, all the good things come with some worries and ethical considerations. Hence, what are the ethical considerations to keep in mind when using educational software?
Those may include unsafe media on the internet which students should avoid. Cyberbullying and the idea of self-image might be a problem as well. Academically it can be plagiarism and students using others’ ideas and papers as their own.
Types of Educational Software Apps
So, is there a platform that helps both teachers and students assemble the content of the course, interact through threaded discussions, submit papers, receive feedback, and do much more? Yes, those are called Learning management systems (LMS). LMS can be a software application or web-based technology or web-based technology which plans, implements, and assesses a specific learning process.
LMS has two elements:
- A server that performs the base functionality
- The user interface which is managed by instructors, students, and administrators
LMS supplies the instructors to deliver content, track student participation and engagement, and evaluate student performance. LMS displays how many students have enrolled in a course along with basic information. It also provides students with a platform to access all the course material like readings and presentations or participate in class forums. It shows the deadlines for assignments and gives students the opportunity to upload their assignments and receive feedback.
Some features of LMS are:
- LMS integrations (incorporates with other systems such as talent management systems)
- Data tracking (tracks the learners to measure their performance)
- Personalized user experience (provides content based on the learner’s history in the software)
- Offline learning trackers (electronic records, assessment checklists, skill evaluation)
- Alerts and notifications (students receive deadline alerts or the teachers get notifications when the learner uploads an assignment)
- Reports and analytics (allows seeing the strong and weak spots of the learner, thus it leads to further improvement)
- Remote or mobile accessibility (users can access the content from anywhere which provides equal opportunities for all learners)
- Assessment tools (exam engines, simulations)
- Smart scheduling tools
Course creation software gives you the opportunity to create, develop and deliver online courses. The standard framework for this is the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). SCORM provides various technical standards to developers so that they will make the elearning software function properly. Course creation software allows you to create a course even without coding since it’s already a built-in feature.
Learning is also a collaborative process and this is why learners will need effective collaboration and communication tools. Some of them are:
- Slack (although this tool is mostly used in working environments, it cannot be excluded from the learning communication sphere and allows learners who do not use social media or other types of messengers to keep tabs on the teamwork progress)
- Zoom (we’re all familiar with this video conferencing giant, which is a classroom in your room, with various digital tools you could find in a real classroom)
- eLeaP LMS (this platform manages online training and education programs, and helps create, manage, and track customized e-learning initiatives using quizzes, analytics, reporting, configurable templates, and multimedia material)
- Microsoft Teams/Office 365 (this cloud-based web app has endless possibilities for real-time teamwork like conventional word processing, spreadsheet, and slideshow features)
- G-Suite (docs and sheets, Google Hangouts, email, and calendar)
- Asana and Trello (platforms to assign and organize tasks, keep track of the progress of group work, and more)
Monitoring and progress-tracking software helps teachers assess and evaluate student progress effectively. This software provides reports, graphs, histograms, statistics, and summative, formative, and individual metrics. Some of the monitoring and progress-tracking tools are:
- MasteryConnect (displays mastery standards for performance-based assessments)
- Schoology (online grade book, calendar, attendance, assessments, discussions)
- GoFormative (supplies real-time interference from the teacher if needed)
- Socrative Teacher (runs quizzes, and games and collects feedback)
- PBS LearningMedia (resource storing and organization, incorporation with Google Classrooms, customized dashboards, and more)
The forms of some assignments allow digitized assessment and grading tools to evaluate and mark those seamlessly. However, there are assignments, like writing papers and essays which might require the human factor or highly advanced grading software for an unbiased and impartial grading experience. Some of the aspects you should consider when choosing assessment and grading software are:
- Fostering student growth and not only marking student answers as correct or incorrect. This software needs to provide more comprehensive feedback.
- Integrate paper exams and assess them in digital format.
- Dynamic rubrics and flexible grading from anywhere in the world.
- Cover vast options of assignment formats like multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, essay formats, programming assignments, and so on.
- Real-time reporting allows you to assess the students realistically and understand their flaws and strengths.
- Anti-cheating features create an environment of academic integrity (i.e. Turnitin which tracks plagiarism).
What to Consider when Choosing an Educational Software Development Company
There are several aspects to consider before choosing an educational software development company:
- Experience and expertise. It is important to do a background check on the company you’re choosing to see their technical expertise and years of experience in the sphere.
- Reviews and Reputation. This is how we choose one service over the other, reviews and reputation. Judging from the previous experience of the company with the clients you can choose whether it’s worth working with that development company or not.
- Development Process and Methodology. It is important to consider what’s going on behind the scenes, in other words the development process and what methods the developers choose to design the app.
- Communication and Transparency. All the aforementioned factors might be there when choosing a company but it’s important to have smooth communication and transparency between the client and the developer for getting updates on the development progress, making some changes or giving and receiving feedback about the work quality.
- Technical Infrastructure and Capabilities. It is wise to consider the technical infrastructure and capabilities which include types of support services and security, the most important features to consider in the development process.
So, let’s go over the benefits of educational software once again. It can be accessible to anyone from any part of the world. It helps educators to track the learners’ progress. The trends in the sphere such as gamification and AR, VR, and AI can boost the motivation and participation rate of the students.
As we're rapidly diverting to innovative technologies it is important to invest in it to stay in touch and on track with the rest of the world.
So, up your game and invest in it more! Just don’t forget to choose the right development company, set your educational goals and objectives properly, and heed the ethical considerations!