Digital Learning Technology: Educational APIs and Online Learning
The technological advancements brought by the fourth industrial revolution have ensured that every facet of our lives, from grocery shopping to our day jobs to socializing with friends, is intertwined with digital platforms and able to be carried out remotely. This trend began long before the coronavirus pandemic forced everyone inside and made businesses and schools alike adopt remote options to continue operating. With the coronavirus continuing to make the rounds and people worldwide becoming accustomed to transacting business in digital spaces, the trend of digitally inclusive business and education options becoming available and popular will likely continue.
With that in mind and COVID variants continuing to grow and mutate, the problem of online schooling and how best to help students who are falling behind adapt to the new educational normal is a pertinent one. While no model of schooling will be a perfect, one-size-fits-all model that will ensure that students of many different learning styles all have one-hundred percent retention of the material, online learning presents unique challenges for students across the board.
With such problems as teachers not taking the time to make sure students are grasping the material, a lack of things that measure student progress such as parent-teacher conferences, and (for some students) a struggle to adapt to an entirely different medium of schooling, most models of online schooling could certainly use some refinement. Most experts are recommending that students seek tutoring outside schooling, which would be a great suggestion in other circumstances, yet, it ignores the fact that most tutoring would take place over mediums like Zoom, not addressing the underlying problem of education in the cloud. More is needed to patch this sinking ship. Yet, few are aware that the answer to this problem is one they are already familiar with, one that they use every day in different settings to meet other needs… Application Program Interfaces, or APIs, could be the solution to America’s online education problem.
APIs: What Are They?
In a nutshell, APIs are contracts between two different kinds of software, through which it’s agreed that the two entities will share information and allow each other to use their services under certain conditions. APIs are drawn up by the software manufacturers to ensure that their software can interact with third-party programs without constant supervision; This is often done to ensure a seamless user experience, such as when you log into Paypal on an e-commerce site to pay or use Google to sign in to a third-party website. APIs can be public, allowing anyone to build their software into a pre-existing framework, or private, a restricted agreement between two entities for the mutual benefit of both. For our purposes, however, where APIs come into the conversation is their ability to provide tools to aid our students with their education.
Educational APIs and Your Student: Translating the Digital
Educational APIs aim to add educational function to already useful devices, meaning your student can use these on their phone or laptop with relative ease. Some tutoring outlets offer APIs as extensions that allow students to connect with the tutoring company, facilitating their learning by giving them constant access to the platform and allowing the platform to integrate itself with their computer. However, the kinds of educational APIs we’re talking about are tools that your student can use in any setting, such as a flashcards API that will help them study for their next test, or a reliable weather API that will aid in collecting long-term weather data for a science project.
These kinds of tools run the gamut from dictionary APIs that function as a living thesaurus for your student as they write their papers to a web design API, which can help teach your children the techniques necessary to enter the programming and web design fields. The use of these kinds of tools can help translate the medium of digital education into something more concrete, bringing the tools that students would use in a classroom to help study into a digital medium and making functions like research and writing much easier.
Adapting With the Changing Time
As the world continues to change around us at an unprecedented pace, we have to do what we can to make it easier for our children to adapt. APIs can help make it easier for our children to function in digital spaces, making it easier for them to perform the functions their schools require of them and retain the information they need to know.
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