E-learning and 'edtech' are current buzzwords in education. The digital revolution, already firmly ensconced in European homes and businesses, is now spreading into classrooms and universities. From class blogs and school e-twinning schemes to scholastic 'apps' and online courses, education is going electronic.
Today, e-learning has become a valuable tool in education courses, especially for students who not only prefer to learn at home, but need to have access to course materials while on the go. While, e-learning has proved itself in mainstream education and training to be reliable and effective in providing online education and professional training, e-learning solutions still have room for improvement.
The Fraunhofer Academy - a facility of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for external training and continuing education programmes - has come up with a new learning application called the "iAcademy". The "iAcademy" is an application that permits users to upload a number of course materials. "'Blended learning' is one of the hot topics in learning and continuing education," says Dr. Roman Götter, managing director of the Fraunhofer Academy, which brought the application to market jointly with partner Ziemann.IT in November 2012. "The term signifies a form of learning that links together the advantages of conventional in-person events and virtual learning. Through this application, interested parties can take advantage of the digital curriculum in a way that's even more independent of place or time. Just download once, and you can upload the course materials anytime, anywhere."
This means that lecturers can conveniently prepare their own digital course materials using the editor software. Education experts specifically improved the user interface of the editor, so that now, it is even easier for lecturers to prepare new digital curricula. Additional new functions include sound effects and the ability to apply password protection to individual course materials.
A theoretical guideline and a digital template provide orientation, and allow videos, simulations or images - optimally adapted to the remaining content of the course programme - to be integrated. "The lecturers can operate the editor conveniently and easily," says the Academy's Eva Poxleitner. "The optimised design of the user interface will lower the 'digital inhibition threshold' even further. In any case, the feedback has so far been highly promising." One writer competition - promoted by Ziemann.IT - is intended to choose the best uploaded course materials. "It starts on February 25th. Details about it are available on the homepage, of iacademy.mobi," Poxleitner adds.
In addition to the new version of the "iAcademy" applications, the Fraunhofer Academy also exhibited five new learning programmes for the IT field at CeBIT, a high-tech event showcasing the latest digital IT and telecommunications solutions. These programmes included: Roberta Teacher Training, which uses robots to convey natural sciences material, technology and computer and information sciences to schoolchildren in an exciting and practical manner. Visitors at the exhibit were able to test and programme Roberta, the learning robot, live.
This new wave of online learning programmes and educational games is helping to make teaching and learning more appealing. Rather than associating school with boring essays and dusty blackboards, pupils are finding ways to learn whilst having fun, in the online world with which they are already familiar.
All in all, e-learning is an innovative tool that can provide quality, convenience and cost effective training and education for anyone wishing to further advance their knowledge, skills, and proficiency. These tools can be applied to a variety of given fields, helping Europe move towards a truly knowledge-based society.
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More information: The Fraunhofer Academy www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2013/march/e-learning-goes-mobile.html