We just came back from Karlsruhe where we attended LEARNTEC this week to have a look at the top trends in digital education for 2018. LEARNTEC is one of the top events in Germany when it comes to e-learning and digital education. With more than 280 exhibitors, over 250 speakers, and a large congress, LEARNTEC provides a great overview on state-of-the-art technologies in learning and inspires to think about the future of education. We were in particular interested to learn, how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used in education and which approaches align with our own efforts to make this technology accessible in digital learning. Here is a short recap of our visit in case you missed LEARNTEC 2018 yourself.

Before describing three trends in greater detail, let us quickly talk about two other prominent topics this year. First, Gamification seems like a wildcard technology that can be added everywhere. While it is certainly successful in different settings, there is also a growing group of people that have mixed feelings about it because it is mentioned so excessively. Secondly, Blended Learning is all around. While it is a meaningful concept, the implementation of it still comes with different obstacles. Issues such as an insufficient infrastructure or missing hardware to provide the experience to every learner are still omnipresent. Besides those two topics, we identified three other hot trends this year.

#1 – Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is still a huge trend in digital education. While its mainstream usage may be stagnating, education offers a very large set of use cases for VR. One of the main use cases is employee training. On the one hand, this can support apprentices at their work and training. On the other hand, VR also allows getting an initial experience for new physical environments like cockpits of a crane. At goedle.io, we are also exploring how VR is changing the analytics space and what additional information can be tracked when taking physical sensors into account. For this setting, however, we weren’t able to find an outstanding solution. Since learning analytics is still not widespread and platforms only begin to implement it, VR analytics as a source for analyzing learners’ behavior hasn’t found its way into commercial products yet.

#2 – Adaptive Learning

Adaptive Learning is one of the most often mentioned ideas these days and there are different understandings of it. There exists a learner-centric view and a system-centric approach. For the learner-centric view, the applications offer different learning theories to strengthen the learners’ knowledge. For example by changing the order of exercises or content. For the system-centric approach, some Learning Management Systems (LMS) make use of rule-based algorithms to build learning pathways. In a nutshell, if a learner fails a course, their learning pathway will select a new branch based on a given rule. We see a lot of potential in this development and we have recently used machine learning algorithms that can create and test new learning pathways automatically. From our perspective, the next step is to build pathways not only based on static rules but instead use the predicted future behavior of a student for adaptive learning. To be more precise, we are investigating at-risk student prediction to modify learning pathways in such a way that the number of course dropouts is reduced. Prediction of at-risk students can be seen as a form of churn prediction and more about this topic can be found here.

#3 – Frameworks for Quiz Apps

An increasing number of LMS’ are including functionalities to build quiz apps based on course material. This extends the use cases of many LMS’ and improves the user experience. This can also be seen as the transition to mobile learning where course material is brought to smartphones and tablets, and allows students to learn independently of their location. However in many cases, it is not necessary to maintain an entire LMS but instead a simple app is sufficient for certain learning scenarios. Think of a small company with teams in different locations. For example, a few sales representatives abroad. These teams can now easily be trained at much lower costs with a mobile app.

Summary

All in all, LEARNTEC 2018 has been an inspiring visit for us and we are certainly planning to come back in 2019. We have seen different areas where AI, and in particular machine learning, can make a substantial difference. This aligns very well with our idea of AI in education. If you are interested to learn more about learning analytics, dynamic content adaptation, and AI in education, please reach out to us. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter.