Unmet User Needs Drive Innovation in Remote Learning


During the coronavirus pandemic, schools and teachers were forced to transition to remote learning almost overnight. Remote learning technology, remote collaboration tools, and digital classrooms became vitally important. 

As we look to the fall and the potential recurrence of a quarantine, the world is facing new questions of how to adapt technology to match current accreditation requirements, to meet the needs of instructors and students and also how to use technology to increase student engagement, regardless of whether they are at home or in a classroom. 

The most effective digital product strategy begins with uncovering unmet user needs. Turning those unmet needs into actionable insights will inform product development and lead to more innovative engagement and learning strategies. 

With the increasing adoption of remote learning solutions, we looked back to a research study we did back in 2015 and discovered that the findings remain timely now. We identified several opportunities for eLearning companies to improve their platforms and improve remote learning experiences for students and teachers.

Here are some of the findings from that study:

  • Teachers are resourceful. 
    • Teachers design curriculum in response to the needs of their classes.
    • On average, educators use at least three separate (often free) tools to create digital content. 
    • Teachers are forced to navigate the complexity of setting up students in multiple systems, because these free tools rarely work well together.
  • Educators lack visibility into student engagement.
    • Teachers can’t track how engaged students are with digital content. 
      • Some instructors try to get around this by soliciting a response that can only be accomplished by engaging with the content fully. For example, they may embed a question partway through a video that the students have to answer via email. 
    • Instructors want insights into what students do or don’t understand so they can tailor the curriculum to class-specific needs.
  • The students’ experience is difficult.
    • In many cases, there is no single, centralized place for students to find lessons and homework for different classes. 
      • Having multiple locations for digital content lowers student completion rates.
      • Having multiple locations creates a disjointed student experience; students must remain vigilant to remember where to go, what to do, and when. 
    • Videos are frequently accompanied by a worksheet or sample problems that must be printed to complete. Students may not have all the technologies required to complete the work.

Although the information from this study dates back to 2015, the insights are still timely. The stay-at-home mandate has provided educators the opportunity to use otherwise unconventional digital learning solutions. Now, institutions and teachers are more willing to integrate remote learning into the classroom. Students are ready to adopt these new tools. eLearning companies have the opportunity to enhance future classroom learning methods by improving their product offerings through user-centered design.