Artificial intelligence (AI) in elearning and blended learning are the adult learning trends that my learning partner and I discussed. These trends link together well, as the developments in AI have let increased use of technology in the classroom.
My partner’s article “The Future of Artificial Intelligence in eLearning Systems discussed how developments in AI have made technology and resources more responsive to learners needs. These developments included resources that are able to focus content in areas where the learner may be struggling. As the student improves the technology responses with more difficult material. The development in AI will impacts instructors by requiring them to become more aware of how to use and integrate technology into their teaching and courses. Becoming more “like programmers.” (Smith, 2016) As the AI technology develops it will lead to even more responsive technology and resources for learners.
The second trend we discussed was on the topic of blended learning. I chose the article Are We Ready for Blended Learning because this is the environment I currently teach in. Blended learning is the mix of traditional face to face with technology in the class room or on-line and distance learning. Technology has been part of the classroom since the introduction of power point as the main method to deliver lectures and is the norm in most classes in Canada. (Bales, 2016) The article discusses the current challenges of developing the best practices for the delivery of these types of programs, ensuring the technologies and design resources are available for developing the on-line components offered on campus the way they are for distance on-line courses.
In my accounting class, we use a smart textbook that highlights key passages for the students and reminds them to try a series of multiple choice questions about every 20 minutes. These mini quizzes are to test their comprehension of what they have read. The questions are responsive to the student’s answer, if the student answered the previous questions correctly the questions become more difficult. The smart textbook is used for all the practice problems, in-class demonstrations, assignments, quizzes, and tests. teaching in this hybrid environment has been a challenge to adapt to because there is such a heavy reliance on the textbook and the materials that accompany it. This reliance has meant that I have had to change how I deliver some of the materials and manage the classroom.
The adaptations I have made using the smart book and on-line questions are to do examples in the manner the textbook has laid out the answers to problems. For example, the names of accounts can have slight variations and if the students do not enter the account name the textbook’s way the answer will be marked wrong. I have to encourage my students to take notes about key points and examples as well as having to make sure they show their work, so they can refer back to it during practice questions and for marking.
The Future of Artificial Intelligence In eLearning Systems talks about instructors needing to be programmers, I am not convinced this is true. When I think of programmer I envision a lot of background work that leads to the set-up the instructors will do. I believe instructors need to be software experts to understand the technology and set it up correctly for learners as well as being a resource to help students access the technology and trouble shot any problems in the classroom. Institutions need to provided instructors with training and support to be able to design courses that are inclusive of the technology and it is used in as a valuable learning tool that does not overwhelmed the instructor or learner.
My “Aha” moment when was when I was reflecting on the implications of the responsive AI and blended learning in my current class. I am lucky to have a resource person who knows how to set up and use the technology. This person is a senior instructor for the course and is responsible for training new instructors on using the smart textbooks, delivery and retrieving on-line assignment, and test environments. Without this resource person, who does this role as an add on to his teaching, I would have spent considerable more time struggling with setting up the activities. In the past when I have used on-line textbook resources it always took longer to set up than I expected, because I was still learning the system myself.
There is a real need for proper training in using these resources along with the technical support to be available when problems arise. For another course I taught a two-hour session on setting up problems for homework and quizzes, and all the support was via distance and our IT department did not know anything about the software so help was at least 24 hours away. Having an on-site resource person is invaluable and I am much more confident using the technology knowing the on-line resources were set up by someone with a greater understanding of the technology and the subject matter. Providing the necessary support for blended classes will be a challenge on program resources.
Here is the link to Danny’s post.