Much of the world may be well aware of the growth of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), but the growth of edtech has been nothing short of emphatic as we continue to transition towards a more remote society.
Today, institutions across the educational sector are looking to adopt high-tech tools like AI, VR, and AR as a means of enhancing their quality of service as key curriculum tools.
The rise of edtech platforms like Duolingo, Udemy and Coursera accelerated rapidly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as individuals young and old continue to embrace digital transformation, the industry surrounding these leading companies continues to grow exponentially.
(Image: HolonIQ, used with permission)
As the table above shows, advanced technology is set to become deeply intertwined with education as the decade progresses, with AI and reality technology set to take centre stage with expenditure reaching $18.7 billion collectively by 2025. (Read also: The Top Ways to Use AI in Education.)
“Digital transformation is helping institutions retire old ways of thinking and working in order to harness technology to transform institutional outcomes,” said Susan Grajek, vice president of partnerships, communities and research for EDUCAUSE presenting at the 2021 EDUCAUSE conference. “Institutions need to build the foundations of digital transformation through shifts in their culture, workforce and technology.”
“Institutions need to build the foundations of digital transformation through shifts in their culture, workforce and technology.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has changed trends around the world, accelerating the adoption of technology in various sectors,” noted Maxim Manturov, head of investment research at Freedom Finance Europe. “The education industry is no exception, it is worth noting that there were attempts to integrate technology into education before, but the pandemic has accelerated and strengthened this trend. This may increase the number of people willing to switch to online learning as it allows attending classes anywhere.”
With edtech forecast to grow at an exponential rate in the wake of the recent acceleration towards digital transformation, let’s take a deeper look at the emerging trends within education technology, and how they’ll transform the future of learning.
Driving Personalization in Education
According to a recent learning report conducted by Deloitte, 40% of all 21st Century skills are dependent on the personalization of education. Thanks to emerging edtech, students are now capable of receiving personalized content and adaptive learning plans as part of their preferences.
Edtech companies have been increasingly looking to establish a conducive learning environment for students by offering them the freedom of choice when it comes to their learning paths and courses whilst continually reevaluating their path within the curriculum.
We can already see evidence of AI programs working to deliver more tailored experiences to users. Duolingo utilizes artificial intelligence and deep learning to ascertain the level of skill a student has when they begin learning a language on the platform. This allows individuals who have had experience in learning a specific language before to learn at a pace that suits them.
The Apple Watch is helping students to develop better habits – particularly when it comes to physical learning, which can help to deliver more hands-on experiences for students. Artificial intelligence is also growing to help create personalized learning plans whilst analyzing students’ data to deliver a greater quality of insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
More Immersive Learning Experiences
On the topic of wearables like the Apple Watch, hardware features many advantages when it comes to learning. Immersive learning largely revolves around making modern hardware work for the wider industry surrounding education. In many ways, they can serve as a learning platform that identifies users based on their smartphones before creating a wider profile that collects data from multiple classes from different subjects.
Immersive learning has the power to tap into virtual reality on a large scale. The growth of the consumer reality technology market means that anybody with a smartphone now has the power to access augmented reality and virtual reality. This has the potential to turn classrooms virtual, and teachers have the ability to mimic real-life school settings for learning – all without expensive or demanding adjustments to be made to accommodate this digitized learning model.
As tech giants like Facebook, Google and Niantic all race to develop the next generation of AR eyewear, we’ll see the adoption of the virtual classroom accelerate at an increasingly fast pace over time. With the emergence of successful reality learning apps like Unimersiv, Timelooper and Google Earth VR already occurring, interest in immersive edtech will grow exponentially over the coming years as hardware continues to become more powerful.
The Rise of Gamification
With greater immersive learning experiences, more educators are seeking out ways of gamifying their lessons. This can be effective in getting students to engage more deeply in their learning.
While reality technology and AI can certainly drive the gamification of edtech, and we can already see high profile examples emerging in the form of Kahoot!, Pictionary and even in major title adaptations like Minecraft: Education Edition. (Read also: Amazing AI Advances in Education: Benefits and Controversies.)
In the case of Minecraft: Education Edition, players are rewarded for learning about the periodic table, writing code to fight a wildfire, and visiting Viking villages. This blending of gaming gratification and learning is set to drive the future of education as younger students seek out virtual rewards for their efforts.
In the future, we’re likely to see blockchain-based cryptocurrencies emerge as another way of rewarding students for completing gamification challenges whilst learning new skills. In being rewarded for their efforts in digital tokens, students could then spend their earned cryptocurrency in specialist digital tuck shops to improve their avatars or to spend elsewhere.
While edtech is set to grow exponentially over the course of the decade, the biggest changes will be seen in how we interpret learning experiences. In a traditionally analogue industry, the emergence of immersive education platforms and rewards through gamification exercises has the potential to make education enjoyable for a wide range of learners – helping to drive greater engagement in an industry with bags of potential.