At the beginning of 2020, as the world was faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of schools across the globe were forced to suspend in-person education. This caused a massive disruption in the learning process for billions of students, as classes were either cancelled entirely, or schools made a hasty and unplanned jump into eLearning. Those learning institutions which had already embraced edtech solutions or had been in the process of preparing to introduce a learning management system (LMS) were able to make a smoother transition. 

Even before COVID-19, eLearning in Asia was a rapidly growing sector. Globally, edtech investments reached $18.66 billion USD in 2019 with a future projection of $350 billion USD by 2025. Most of this automation in education is likely to happen in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the countries here have young, tech-savvy populations — the perfect demographic for the implementation of eLearning. 

The changing classroom 

As the coronavirus spread, schools and colleges that had not adopted any form of LMS platform in their classrooms found themselves pushed into using applications designed more for video conferencing than education. Here they found a cluttered field of upwards of thirty to forty small screens with nothing but a web-based word processor to manage them. Many learned a lesson the hard way — a good LMS can make a world of difference to teachers, tutors, and trainers by helping to create a more efficient and manageable eLearning environment, particularly, in our post-pandemic world.

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One way in which an LMS can streamline the education process is through in-house material creation. A well-structured LMS provides the framework to develop course materials that integrate smoothly with the system. Having access to materials specific to the course allows educators, especially those thrust into the unknown, a valuable starting point from which to develop lessons. Materials, including templates for assignments as well as rubrics and presentations, add much value to the learning environment. Without an LMS, instructors may have to screen share a slideshow and email relevant materials, which may be enough for a small group, but with a larger cohort becomes unwieldy and may slow down the process of learning. 

Artificial intelligence and automation

By providing a platform that merges content with evaluation, the instructor can easily, through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), monitor and track the students’ progress. The massive advances in AI over the past seven years have allowed machine learning to use algorithms to analyse a substantial amount of data. The LMS can use this analysis to adjust teaching methods to maximise learning. 

While old computerised tutoring relied on branching paths that only simulated real adaptation to the student’s choices, the dynamic and insightful data analysis and application can react in real-time to a student’s needs often without the student even realising. Studies show that the students who studied with an AI-assisted tutor outperformed their peers 92% of the time, and the difference in performance was substantial 78% of the time. AI and machine learning are not just buzzwords that people in the education and marketing field throw around to sell a product. They have a real, measurable effect on student performance, and integration into an LMS is crucial to aiding teachers and students alike.

Accessibility anywhere

An LMS can also provide convenience to the student and teacher. With a cloud-based system, access to lessons and materials from any device the student chooses is smooth and seamless. It also limits the volume of materials the student must download directly to their device, something that those with older smartphones and laptops lacking significant storage capacity, would appreciate. In a world where students require constant stimulation, eLearning platforms can offer gamification to keep them interested in the learning process. Studies have shown that gamification in education has improved learner performance by 40%. It also enhances learner commitment and focus, making them active participants in the learning process. 

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Another downside of using video calling applications for learning purposes is the lack of a points or rewards system. By creating incentives, learners are drawn in and motivated to complete tasks outside the classroom, where distractions often interfere with the learning process. Considering the permeation of smartphones through all levels of society, the vast majority of learners will have access and be familiar with applications and mobile gaming. 

A learning management system, such as D2L’s Brightspace platform, is a valuable tool for any educator and can aid in the automation in education deemed necessary for today’s learners. By leveraging machine learning and AI to provide essential analytics, the platforms allow the student to reach a potential not conceived of in previous generations. A well-constructed LMS is also a life preserver, tossed out into the turbulent educational waters of a post-pandemic world. It provides structure, and with gamification built-in, it can also increase personalisation and reduce prep time. It is crucial to choose an LMS with all of these features in order to provide high-quality education in an online environment. 

Technological disruptions have impacted all aspects of our lives in the past decade and education is no exception. The COVID-19 crisis has acted as a driver for edtech in Asia as it has brought to light the importance of online learning for educators and students alike. It is clear now, more than ever, that long-term, scalable and sustainable solutions, such as learning management systems are essential to ensure quality education. From corporate training environments to academic institutions, every learning space needs a robust and holistic solution to be future-proof, and this is where an LMS can step in.  If you’d like to learn more about LMS and get insights from users of the Brightspace platform, register for D2L Fusion 2020—a free six-month virtual series, catering to schools, higher education, and corporate learning audiences worldwide with APAC-focused sessions in the month of September.

This post was contributed by Nick Hutton, Regional Director of Asia, D2L

About the author

Nick has been living and working in Asia for the past 29 years. Originally from the UK, he started his working life in Asia with Apple Computer. Following Apple, Nick moved into the telco industry, working for a number of global telco vendors across Asia Pacific. In 2008 he became CEO of a fully online Business School in Singapore, Universitas 21 Global, partnering with 21 of the world’s leading research-intensive universities. Nick is currently a Regional Director at D2L which created Brightspace, the learning platform that is recognised globally as the #1 LMS Technology for Next-Gen Online Teaching and Learning.