Over the past year, the education sector has been forced to give innovation a chance. As a result, the global education system has undergone a complete transformation.
Change within this space has traditionally been slow. Educational institutions have generally been reluctant to stray from the norm and offer new technologies an opportunity to revolutionise the way we learn. Now, this has all changed.
The surge in edtech investment is a testament to these shifting attitudes. Based on Crunchbase data, global venture funding for edtech companies reached US$4.1 billion between January and July 2020 – a significant US$1.5 billion more than was raised during the same period in 2019.
As we return to something resembling normality, the question now is: can this momentum be maintained? As we look to the future, here’s why I believe technology will remain a cornerstone of learning, even as educators and students revert to their familiar routines…
Technology will help solve longstanding issues
From investors to teachers and learners, everyone moved to edtech as the only solution to keep the flow of knowledge going during this difficult time. But as we map out students’ return to in-person tuition – whether that be pupils and teachers returning to the classroom, university students settling back into lecture halls, or adult learners participating in post-work language classes – we must remember that the obstacles that learning leaders face today are no different in practice to those that were already in play before COVID-19; namely, the key challenge standing in the way of quality education is delivering learning in a way that’s differentiated and thus effective for each individual.
Promisingly, edtech can offer realistic solutions to the longstanding issue of passive learning. This shift has been taking place for years, with students at the helm – indeed, many students today supplement their learning with platforms such as YouTube and Quora. In contrast with traditional textbooks and lecture-based education, these solutions offer a more engaging experience.
Such behaviours have been accelerated by the events of the past twelve months. And as technology advances, solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) will step in to provide dynamic and hyper-personalised training. Importantly, learning leaders will be able to capitalise on its ability to recognise and appreciate individual differences to ensure that each student is getting the tailored support they need to develop their skills and knowledge. It’s also important to note here that AI doesn’t only exist for the benefit of students; having access to the most recent and innovative instructional strategies that educators can implement in their teaching and learning is a huge part of the future of edtech.
Unlike traditional learning models, whereby learners’ needs might be overlooked due to the very nature of an oversaturated learning environment, sophisticated edtech solutions can detect when people are struggling and adapt their output accordingly. This is done by analysing user performance in real-time, testing their knowledge retention and skills, and then developing a roadmap for improving their specific developmental needs.
“As we move away from a blanket approach to education, sophisticated solutions that can offer data-driven insights will pave the way for better learning”
As we move away from a blanket approach to education, sophisticated solutions that can offer data-driven insights will pave the way for better learning.
The value of augmented education
Immersive learning has been shown to improve overall performance, with students showing signs of improved knowledge acquisition and understanding; meanwhile, edtech solutions are increasingly offering the interactive experiences craved by learners.
Already, we have witnessed classrooms becoming more collaborative through a range of methods, such as interactive ‘front of class’ displays. In the near future, the learning experience will be enriched further, as educators turn to mediums like virtual reality (VR) to deliver augmented learning.
“I envision the blended learning model to become more popular in the months and years to come”
Despite concerns about the decline of peer-to-peer (P2P) learning opportunities as we rely more heavily on technology, innovations like VR can, in fact, promote peer interaction. By giving learners first-hand experience of the topics they are studying, a space is created for shared understanding, with conversations promoted after the fact to discuss what has been learnt. In turn, this helps students to improve their understanding of abstract or complicated academic concepts by engaging in discussions about their experience. Not only will VR bring ‘boring’ subjects to life and get students excited about learning, but it will also assist in memory retention and understanding as students reflect on their experiences in future lessons.
Given the incredible progress that has already been made, it would not be far-fetched to say that technology will become a mainstay of the classroom. I envision the blended learning model to become more popular in the months and years to come, with technology augmenting the ability of human educators to support effective learning to the enormous benefit of learners of all ages and skill sets.
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