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Edtech trends to look out for in 2017

With the right funding, the education industry will continue to make headway on its path to digital transformation in 2017

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | December 29, 2016 | International

By Elliot Gowans, VP of sales, EMEA, D2L

In 2017 adaptive and blended learning will make the turn towards becoming the norm within classrooms as we start to see technology increasingly complement traditional learning and enable students to learn at their own pace, on any device, whenever they want. Furthermore, the use of game and video-based learning will become more widely implemented as students attempt to seek greater engagement in the classroom. As edtech becomes more commonplace, educators will have wider access to data, and will subsequently start to utilise data and predictive analytics to help educators zero in on issues and act right away, further personalising the learning experience.

The digitalisation of content is boosting adaptive learning adoption

Adaptive learning goes beyond the simple facilitation of online content delivery. At the basic level, adaptive learning helps in the personalisation of learning and allows the learner to acquire information in a very focused manner at their own pace, and until it is mastered. Beyond that, it’s freeing up faculty time to spend with learners in the classroom. Instructors can teach at much higher and more complex levels, with a greater focus on analysis, synthesis, and creative thinking. We’re seeing interest in this type of technology mature as more content shifts to digital and more instructors and institutions better define their learning outcomes. It is this digitalisation of content that is making it easier to bring adaptive technology onto campus, and this will continue throughout the coming year.

Blended learning is combining technology and traditional teaching methods

There’s no questioning the importance of the role played by the educator. A key element of the learning process, at any age, is the dynamic relationship shared between a student and their colleagues, and between student and teacher. It is the role of the educator to foster these relationships. Unfortunately, the thousands of hours of work educators put into lesson planning, marking and academic books cuts the time they can put into thinking about the effectiveness of their teaching style.

2017 will be the year that traditional teaching methods and education technology work side by side, as opposed to being mutually exclusive or in each others’ way

2017 will be the year that traditional teaching methods and education technology work side by side, as opposed to being mutually exclusive or in each others’ way. Using ‘blended learning’, content and delivery will be customised to optimise the use of face-to-face, and online.  This will meet the needs of individual students, drive better education outcomes, and ensure lecture time is spent on what matters most—teaching and learning. As education techniques evolve, schools and universities will extend the physical classroom by giving students the ability to interact with teachers and peers on their own time and schedule using social media, blogs and online discussion forums.

Video-based learning is growing in sophistication

By now, the benefits of using video in learning are becoming clearer. From flipped classrooms to blended or traditional education models, using video in learning can transform the teaching experience for both educators and students alike. Video as content is what rich text was ten years ago, but we’re now seeing very purposefully designed apps for learning – such as video assignments, peer collaboration and discussions via video. 2017 will see video continuing to get more sophisticated and nuanced for learning purposes. Learners are increasingly demanding more interaction with their classmates and instructors, and video is helping to achieve this. Video is not just a way to deliver content; it’s a way to interact. 

Gamification is becoming integral to education

2017 is certain to cement the notion that the non-traditional learner is the majority. They have high expectations for engagement in the classroom and, as a result, institutions are looking for more engaging and interactive representations of the content they already have. Gamification appears to be one of the key solutions, and while the last year has seen some interesting uses of gamification within the education sector, such as the Minecraft Education Edition, these forays were few and far between, and still often viewed as a novelty or an ‘experiment’.

In 2017 we will begin to see gamification work its way into more and more classrooms across the country, eventually becoming an integral part of education at all levels. Gamification has the potential to turn an otherwise routine learning exercise into an interactive and creative activity that drives students to work harder and increase performance. It can also introduce an element of competition into education and give students a sense of pride when they complete a particular exercise.

Learning Analytics is becoming more actionable

We are surrounded by data – from wearable technology, to GPS location tracking, to accessing a wealth of knowledge on a whim through our smartphones. With all the recommendations, curations, and suggestions available to us now –  even our data has data. Many organisations are aware of the importance of data collection and analysis, but the big question for 2017 will be ‘how smart is your data?

In 2017 we will begin to see gamification work its way into more and more classrooms across the country, eventually becoming an integral part of education at all levels

Learning analytics is becoming more actionable in ways that benefit the student, and becoming part of the day-to-day for instructors, advisors, and student. Making data-driven decisions on behalf of the student will become the culture of the institutions, and not just a separate project or initiative. In 2017, we’ll see educators nationwide shifting their focus to defining and mastering learning metrics that matter. No longer will it purely be about measuring test results and completion numbers.  Instead, in 2017 education will finally focus on metrics that determine what a student has actually learned and how they’re applying this knowledge.

In this age of big data, what matters in learning analytics is being able to pick up on changes in behaviour.  This will play an important role in being able to make predictions about those who might be “at risk” in a learning environment by comparing their current activity within a course to large sets of modelled data of past performance in similar courses. This can work across many types of data — from course access, to reading content, to assessments, to analysing their social interactions.

With the right funding, the education industry will continue to make headway on its path to digital transformation, adopting and harnessing the benefits of modern technology, allowing for a more personalised learning experience, benefiting students and educators alike, and ultimately improving student outcomes.

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