Edtech 2020: personalised learning, robotics and teacher wellbeing

Ricky Ye, CEO of DFRobot, looks forward to the trends that are set to shape the educational technology sector in 2020

Last year saw a number of significant changes take place in the edtech sector, and it looks like this innovation is going to continue into 2020 and beyond. For example, we have seen the rise of personalised learning – a system which tests a student’s current level before using that information to guide them through the curriculum at an appropriate, personalised pace. Innovations in personalised learning mean that more and more students are able to enjoy and benefit from a learning experience that has been adapted to their ability.

In 2019, we have also seen a welcome discussion on the importance of bridging the gender gap in STEM subjects – something I anticipate will continue to emerge as 2020 progresses. But what else can we expect 2020 to bring?

Edtech to support teacher wellbeing

In July 2019, Ofsted published a report which focused on teacher wellbeing and their research found that, despite most teachers enjoying teaching and maintaining good relationships with both colleagues and pupils, certain elements of the job led to poor occupational wellbeing for many teachers.

Although the reasons for this are complex, it is certain that technology will play a part in improving this wellbeing, especially as schools move to evidence how they are supporting teachers as part of the new Ofsted Inspection Framework. Whether this technology takes the shape of teacher-tailored wellbeing apps, or AI-software that allows for more streamlined administrative procedures, edtech will certainly be looking for ways to mitigate the undue stress on teachers and in doing so, will improve teachers’ wellbeing and cultivate better working environments.

Renewed emphasis on cross-curricular learning

One of the most important challenges when teaching is student engagement. Cross-curricular learning allows a child to be creative, think critically and approach a subject or discipline from a new perspective – all of which help to boost engagement. But how can effective cross-curricular learning be facilitated?

Thanks to an increasingly digitised and automated workforce, the rise of robotics will continue in edtech. Robotics provides an umbrella offering of engineering, AI and technology – as well as integrating subjects such as science and design into technology. Creating these cross-curricular learning opportunities through edtech will help schools and teachers streamline resource commitments but also deepen students’ knowledge through cross-curricular and practical applications. For example, with a little creativity, programming and coding resources can be used to measure soil pH and plant health – an activity that has the power to connect the dots between coding, biology and chemistry.

What’s more, this active approach to learning reinforces the idea that science is not something that is isolated to textbooks and classrooms.

Robotics provides an umbrella offering of engineering, AI and technology

Bridging the gender gap in STEM subjects

Cross-curricular learning is about accessibility. However, the gender gap continues to be a problem in STEM subjects, with far too few girls pursuing STEM subjects as they progress through school.

Of course, a large part of the problem is rooted in societal expectations. One solution however, is to ensure that students – irrespective of gender – feel equipped and motivated to engage in the study of the STEM. I believe that technology has a huge role to play in this process and introducing engaging learning resources at an early age is vital in nurturing a life-long interest in these subjects.

If students are given the chance to enjoy a ‘hands-on’ experience in STEM-related fields, then it is much more likely they will pursue these subjects later in their learning careers. Technology can help collapse gender expectations and ensure that all children receive a fun, inspiring and motivating introduction to the world of science, engineering and mechanics.

Coding for all

Coding has fast become an in-demand skill, particularly as we become ever more reliant on technology. Although it is clear that coding is taking centre-stage in education, few question the accessibility in this field.

To combat this, I anticipate a multi-disciplinary and creative approach that combines play principles with a personalised learning experience, building an engaging and motivating environment for students who want to involve themselves in this demanding field.

More holistic personalised learning

Personalised learning stood at the forefront of the edtech sector in 2019 and is showing very few signs of slowing down! As we enter 2020, I expect to see this trend continue but in a more holistic way. For example, I anticipate personalised learning to reach beyond meeting pupils’ individual needs and integrating personalised homework and revision, and assessment to ensure that pupils receive as close to a 1:1 learning experience as possible.

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