The education industry is growing at a fast pace. The speedy growth and advancement of the industry compels Institutions and Universities to facilitate online education for the students and faculty which will reconstruct the way of education. Nowadays, the delivery models for both, teaching and learning are advancing towards a personalized learning environment, a virtual classroom, where the user can access the course from anywhere and anytime.
Some of the challenges that the industry is facing, is accomplishing more and more tasks, undergoing radical changes, within a short time frame to make sure that it is delivering a good user experience. To address the needs of the modern-day students, institutions need to function with more proficiency and leverage IT solutions in their processes.
The mobile application provides the ability to offer training and fast communication between stakeholders, from anywhere, at any time. That means whether the students are all together in a classroom or spread all over the country, in different time zones, they can still access the same course materials, and at a time that’s convenient to them. Faculty users can optimize the timeliness and focus on the curriculum and the students can plan their schedules as per the learning time.
As per industry experts Statista, one of the experts and leading statistics companies on the Internet; in 2020, worldwide m-education spending is projected to reach 37.8 billion US dollars, up from 3.4 billion US dollars in 2011. There definitely seems to be an increase in demand in this mobility education space for the next five years.
This paper explains the significance of mobility in education sector and the features to be considered by the developers, while building the mobile education application. As you read further, the paper presents a case study – a online virtual classroom, implemented by RapidValue, for a leading higher education provider in North America.
A typical mobile education system should comprise modules of syllabus, grades, roster, learning teams, workshops and more. There should be a common discussion forum so that the users can communicate and participate in class discussions from their phones. Receiving real-time notifications and gaining access to the discussions, even in the offline mode, will facilitate easy access to the application. Modern training needs to be easy and accessible. Some of the popular features, that are generally available in online learning platform, are:
Developing features for an online education application will depend on the institutions and the users. However, there are some fundamental components that most education mobile applications should include:
This module allows users access the course syllabus, learning activities and assignment for the course. The entire course can be managed in weeks format or learning units or as modules. Learning activities provide the student to access study materials and supporting documents, which can be downloaded for the future reference. A common discussion forum is provided for both the student and faculty, where they can discuss about the relative topics and post their queries. Assignment is an activity in which a student’s knowledge can be measured. Every student needs to submit the assignments as per the submission date. Once the assignments are submitted, faculty will evaluate the assignment and provide the grade.
Most of the online education system consists of an activity forum, where users can view the latest events included in the course. They can easily, track down all events here. This module can change from application to application. Some applications provide filtering privilege to the users so that the users can sort the activities user-wise/date-wise/team-wise. The user can, further, use the ‘drop down’ on the timeline to view the required events.
A personalized messaging forum will be an added advantage for online education, where the student and faculty users can communicate, privately. Faculty can filter these messages by student names, whereas, the student can send private message to the faculty. This module helps the user to view, post and reply to the messages.
Notices are an important part of an education system in order to share course specific instructions and notices by the faculty. It is recommended to have a different section for this module, to provide an ease of access and greater visibility, so that the notices do not get missed by any student.
The Roster module is a page, where the details of class members and teams with regards to respective courses are listed. This module is an integral part of the education system, with the help of which the faculty can manage the students and teams. Users can view the student’s or faculty’s profile details from this forum.
Grades is an important module in online education application. The students can view their grades and faculty can evaluate the performance of all the students. The access to this module is different for student and faculty. From here, students should be able to view total points, earned points and final grade of the course. Also, assignment type, due date, submission status, earned points and total points of an assignment should be displayed here. For a faculty user, this forum should list all the students who have enrolled for a particular course and their assignment details. This helps the faculty to evaluate the performance of the students and provide feedback to them. A graphical representation of the grades is recommended.
A student or the faculty needs to be alerted regarding any important updates with regard to the course. There should be a separate section to manage notifications. These are some important notification alerts that feature in a standard education system:
This is the feature provided for the users to access the course in offline mode. The data and discussions that are preserved online, need to be synchronized and cached to facilitate user while no network is available.
Internet and mobile phones have become an inexorable part of our daily life. Especially for educational purposes, one should ensure that mobile applications are accessible in order to provide equal access and opportunity to users with disabilities such as visual impairment, color deficiency, hearing loss, and limited dexterity.
The University Of Phoenix (UOPX) is one of the leading American institution of higher learning. The University was established in 1976 and offers 112 campuses, learning centers, online degree programs, certificate courses, and individual online classes. It is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. UOPX is the subsidiary of Apollo Group, Inc, which is the world’s largest private education provider, with over $ 2.7 billion in revenue.
The customer wanted to partner with a technology provider who has the expertise in mobility and domain knowledge of education and learning. The existing UOP application could only be accessed through desktop, and UOPX wanted to port the existing application to multiple mobile devices. The application was not able to engage the students to use it, optimally. And, the application was needed to be developed, to support large base of users and ensure scalability.
The Phoenix mobile application is a robust platform, which connects the faculty and students, all the time.
The application provides the flexibility for the students, to access online courses, view attachments, communicate through chat forms, save discussion comments, receive real-time alerts, get a graphical view of grades and interact with the faculty, from anywhere.
RapidValue, along with its technology partner Impelsys evaluated the ecosystem of the university, analyzed the end-user behavior patterns and identified key success factors for the application deployment to create a rich User Interface (UI), highly scalable and highly secure solution.
We delivered end-to-end services and solutions, including technology consulting, UX design, application development, integration with backend systems, application testing, support and maintenance. Before launching the application to large scale of users on multiple devices platform, beta testing was performed, to ensure the application works as expected.
We were able to enhance the communication between the faculty and students.
Some of the primary results achieved are:
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Eventually, there would be a wide range of requirements in the educational domain with respect to mobile applications. The users, students or faculties, would seek and emphasize on best institutions, facilitating online education. This will redefine the way people study. Not only can users study at their own pace but, also, interact with hundreds of students across the world. It is also important to note that “anytime, anywhere” nature of online education allows student readiness to learn, as opposed to ‘fixed-time-and-place’ classroom formats. By employing new adaptive technologies, it is possible to incorporate a student’s learning style.
Moreover, its manifold features like real-time notifications, easy access to study materials and supporting documents, assignment and assessment availability through mobile devices, common/private discussion forums, time to time activity updates, roster management, grading details, offline access to the materials and discussions and accessibility support, etc. make the application more reliable. Hence in the near future, mobile applications will be productive enough to anticipate the interest of the people in online education. Mobility will continue to unfold, with time, to provide better user experience.