Challenges in e learning

Oct 25, 2019


I am doing my PhD research in E-learning and artificial intelligence, and would like to know some of the gaps or challenges in the learning industry and how can technology provide a solution.  

2 Replies
dave faldasz

Hi Ramiz!

First thing that comes to mind for me is maintaining student attention. There has to be something in it for them, whether success in a gamification scenario, or new secrets/knowledge, or stimulating interaction with either other students or well designed bots... Articulate gives us a pile of tools, we are adding the creativity, and helping each other out in here, when we hit a temporary snag.



Ray Cole

The biggest issues in e-learning are not caused by the technology, so likely won't be solved by the technology either, though technology can help. More on that in a moment.

First, some of the biggest issues holding e-learning back are, in my opinion:

- Our industry's legacy of 20+ years of information-oriented ("content dump") e-learning courses has created an ontological problem: for many people--including many who create e-learning and many who hire others to create it for them--information-oriented page-turners are what e-learning "is." 

- Many managers are satisfied with professional-looking info-dump e-learning courses and don't budget time or resources for anything beyond that. These low expectations are a HUGE barrier to creating meaningful e-learning at some organizations because they also make it "OK" and "reasonable" for instructional designers to design, create, and deliver such e-learning.

- It is harder to design and build e-learning that drives learners to practice than it is to create e-learning which just tells them what to do (without making them practice). Consequently, the amount of e-learning that makes the learner practice is totally overwhelmed by the amount of e-learning that doesn't. Imagine if you had to learn to drive, play baseball, or improvise a saxophone by listening to someone tell you about the rules of the road and the parts of a car ("This is the steering wheel. Turn it left to go to the left and turn it right to go to the right."), the physics of momentum and inelastic collisions, or show 144 different scales and associated "licks", without ever asking you to practice the skills you're trying to learn. That's how most e-learning approaches instruction--as a transmission of information to a passive learner.

How can technology help? 

- We need better tools that:

    - Operate at a higher level (requiring less hand-coding, with richer sets of pre-built assets)

    - Are designed with the goal of creating situations (challenges) for the learner to practice solving, rather than the goal of presenting information. For example, our authoring tools should be designed with the idea that the output they will generate (that is, the e-learning course they will publish) will be something more akin to a video game (in which the learner is actively practicing and exploring) and less like a PowerPoint deck with a quiz at the end (in which the learner passively receives a lot of information).

For example, instead of "click to reveal" templates, which are very information-centric, it might be useful to have tools that provide templates for common simulation types to allow us to create practice situations for our learners. Some templates that might be especially useful: Have a Conversation, Execute a Procedural Task, Explore the Relationship Between Two or More Variables (e.g., Supply and Demand), Manage Resources, Explore a Physical or Mathematical Space, and so on.

We need large asset libraries of characters, props, clothing, furniture, equipment, vehicles, and backgrounds that we can mix and match to create whatever scenes and situations are necessary. We need more automation so that, for example, learners can practice having a "difficult" conversation with an AI-driven character in the course and get feedback during and after the conversation, both intrinsic (from how the in-course character responds) and extrinsic (from an expert at the end during a debrief segment).


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