The eLearning market has experienced explosive growth in recent years, as institutions have sought ways to lower costs while delivering high-quality instruction optimized for today’s students. Observers expect growth trajectory to sustain over the next five years, as eLearning technology continues to mature and market needs continue to grow.
One of the primary growth drivers of eLearning adoption is the availability of advanced application program interfaces (APIs) in the educational technology sector. The use of APIs allows teachers or institutions to quickly and easily tap into the powerful features offered by virtual classrooms and other key online learning technologies. It is no understatement to say that API integration is transforming the eLearning market as a whole, thanks to the myriad dynamic benefits it offers.
Before we discuss how APIs are being deployed and the advantages they offer, let’s take a minute to review how APIs function, and their critical supporting role in the infrastructure of the modern day Web.
A look at API basics
While APIs have been around for more than a half-century, they’ve recently become the subject of increased attention — and for a good reason. Today APIs serve as the backbone of the digital experiences that consumers now take for granted. They are omnipresent and play an essential technical role in the operation of most online functions. When you rent a car, download software, order food for delivery or perform just about any other common Web activity, you’re likely interacting with an API.
If you’ve ever used a travel website to check for the best rates available, you should have a clear picture of how an API works. When the website calculates the various prices and availability of hotel rooms or flights, it is interacting with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of APIs from individual hotels or airlines. The results are then populated on your screen, seamlessly.
The uses for APIs are incredibly wide-ranging. Companies can integrate third-party APIs into their offerings to expand functionality. For example, a bank could use an outside vendor’s API to enable cardless financial transactions. In this way, companies that develop innovative new technologies or services can partner with other firms seeking to enhance their own consumer or B2B offerings. All of this is done through the simple integration of an API.
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of APIs let’s take a moment to review how this technology is transforming eLearning.
APIs and eLearning: An ongoing revolution
We’ve mentioned how APIs can be simply and easily integrated into a website or platform to enable new features and extend the performance of existing platforms and tools. Here’s one example of how that can occur in the context of e-Learning.
Suppose you’re a teacher or trainer operating through a website and you’d like to expand your offerings. By adding a virtual classroom API, you can schedule and conduct live classes and give your learners access to a powerful range of online learning features. These features include:
- High-quality real-time video and audio communication
- The ability to upload content directly from a website.
- The use of advanced whiteboard technology
- The ability to create multiple teacher accounts by leveraging API capabilities
- Attendance tracking and automated progress monitoring
- Mobile-optimized course materials
- Text chats and other social functions
Adding features such as these helps improve the learner experience by making it more interactive, engaging and immersive. That’s critical regarding driving better outcomes.
Additionally, today’s virtual classroom APIs make integration a simple, seamless process. There is no software to download or install. Most APIs can be layered into a website, course management system or learning management system with the click of a few buttons. Other common features include the ability to use a single sign-on (teachers, trainers, and learners don’t need to juggle multiple logs in IDs) and the ability to handle everything through a single browser.
The reach and power of APIs in online learning
Online learning has a demonstrated record of success. Many evaluations of the subject, including this detailed quantitative study of dozens of online courses at MIT, have shown that learners perform better with an online or blended approach.
Historically, not everyone has had access to online learning tools or the competence to use them effectively. Elevated costs and a lack of expertise served as barriers to entry, particularly for smaller organizations, startups, or individual instructors.
Fortunately, the popularity of APIs in an eLearning context has helped ease such concerns. Now, with a simple, Web-based integration, instructors can take advantage of some of the most powerful tools in the educational technology industry. Because the integration process is so simple and seamless, any concerns about technical ability are resolved. Teachers using existing websites or platforms can radically boost the power of their eLearning capabilities.
In this sense, virtual classroom APIs are helping to make eLearning more accessible, more powerful and more effective for instructors and students. By making dynamic tools such as virtual classrooms more widely available, APIs are helping instructors improve their offerings (and their business) while also helping students achieve their educational goals.
eLearning offers an array of profound benefits: Accessibility, personalized learning, greater efficiency, deeper engagement and better performance, just to cite a few. The dramatic growth in the online learning market attests to these advantages.
Thanks to the availability of advanced virtual classroom APIs, this growth is almost certain to continue. Instructors can integrate APIs into their website or platform with remarkable ease, vastly expanding the power of these tools. The ability to teach live from an existing setup — with all of the benefits and features of a virtual classroom — is an incredibly attractive proposition for educators and learners alike. Because advanced virtual classroom APIs are so simple to set up and use, leveraging the benefits of online learning has never been easier.
As APIs become even more refined in the years ahead, eLearning will become more accessible, more powerful and more effective — and that’s a combination that should excite everyone.