The Future of Online Learning

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With technology constantly changing and improving, its effects on our society must be doing the same. For the mommies out there, this means our children’s worlds are changing, and before we know it, their world will be vastly different from the one we grew up in.

One of the areas that seems to show this disparity between generations is education. As moms who want their children to function and perform well both inside and outside the classroom, you may be wondering how technology is going to affect or enhance your child’s performance. You’ve heard news of Smart Boards in the classroom, completely green elementary schools and You may be wondering just what is in store for the future of online learning. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for online learning in the coming years.

Starting Young
It seems, now, that today’s babies are born with the innate sense of how to operate electronic devices. I can remember, clearly, standing in a line in Walt Disney World and seeing a two year old use her parent’s phone to play a game more efficiently than I ever could have. Two years old. Companies are recognizing this ability in children and are focusing their efforts on educational versions of their parents’ devices. McKinsey & Company put out a great article on the future of tablets, with insight into how they are used and viewed by different segments of our population, including seniors, and, of course, children.

One of the most popular devices out there right now, though not really discussed in the McKinsey & Company article, is the LeapFrog LeapPad. Designed for children ages three to nine, this device looks like a grown-up tablet and has several versions, with the LeapPad Ultra being the version that allows for Wi-Fi connection. The device allows kids to read books, play educational games, take pictures and view videos that are deemed “safe” through parent-controlled internet options. Three early childhood teachers have been testing similar devices in their classroom and have found that, overall, the young students were “cooperative, collaborative, showed digital citizenship and connected to the real world.”

In the Classroom
As our kids learn to navigate these devices, it is a natural course to present them to children in the classroom to promote continuing education. This, I believe, is the future of online learning. Many high schools have begun pilot programs of technology-centered classrooms. My hometown, in fact, presents their Cyber School students with an iPad of their own when school begins. The iPad becomes their link to learning and assists them in all subjects, including an advanced architecture design course. The Cyber School is, at this point, choosy in the students they accept to the program. However, it is possible that, ten years down the line, the Cyber classroom won’t be as selective and will be available to a broader scope of students.

Much, though, is up in the air regarding the use of such technology in the classroom. Eric Westervelt, a writer for NPR’s “all tech considered,” wrote a great article following one California school district’s decision to make sure every child had access to a tablet for learning. The issues, he noted, came with questions of connectivity availability for impoverished families, and whether or not the “toys” would be able to be used consistently for educational, rather than for entertainment, purposes. The venture, though, has left many families coming together to support the initiative and promote technology use in education.

Though the future of online learning may be somewhat uncertain, one thing is for sure: technology will continue to have an impact in the way our children are taught. Many school districts may decide a tablet program won’t be effective for their population, but you can be sure that even if that particular idea and initiative doesn’t take off, there will be plenty of growing and expanding to accommodate new technology and the growing minds of our young students.

Savannah Marie is a mom and a writer. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading anything she can get her hands on and learning to balance work and home life.

<em><strong>Click here to read more of Savannah’s articles!</strong></em>

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