The pace of digital transformation in the education sector has accelerated immeasurably over the past two years. Every stage of education, from primary to higher education as well as professional and workplace training, has undergone a shift towards online and cloud-based delivery platforms. Beyond that, the changing needs of industry and workforces have prompted a dramatic change in the relationship between adult learners and providers of further education, such as colleges and universities.
The value of the educational technology (EdTech) sector is forecast to grow to $680 million by 2027. Much of this will be due to mobile technology, cloud services and virtual reality creating new possibilities for accessible, immersive learning. From an optimistic point of view, we can celebrate the fact that the quality of education available in 2022 is less limited by where someone happens to live in the world and the time they have available to attend classes. On the other hand, we must remain aware that disparities in access to technology create another set of challenges when it comes to striving for equality of educational opportunities. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the most important tech trends affecting education over the next 12 months:
The coronavirus pandemic forced many schools and colleges to switch to a remote learning model. However, as with many other changes, this was simply an acceleration of a trend that’s been going on for some time already. The market for online learning services and e-learning is forecast to grow by 15% annually between 2020 and 2025, reaching a value of $50 billion. E-learning offers school-age students the possibility of learning subjects and skills that are not taught locally, while for those in higher education, the benefits include allowing them to more easily fit learning around other commitments such as work or family responsibilities.
Lifelong learning (Subscription services)
The education system in place today was developed for a different world when youngsters were expected to train for a "job for life." Learning opportunities were restricted to those that could be delivered in venues that students could physically access, and our years of formal education would be “front-loaded” – crammed into our first 20 years. The employment landscape today is vastly different from the one our grandparents or even parents were accustomed to. The rapid pace of technological advancement means skills can quickly become outdated, and developing new competencies on an ongoing basis is a vital strategy for career and business success.
Immersive learning technology – AR and VR
Extended reality (XR) – which covers virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), promises to create more immersive and engaging learning opportunities. This is essential in an age when it’s said that attention spans are dropping, and we’re becoming accustomed to absorbing information in ultra-fast, bite-sized, and attention-grabbing chunks. Many people reading this will probably remember learning about topics like the Roman Empire by reading history books – imagine how much more information you might have absorbed if you’d been able to wander around a digital reconstruction of ancient Rome.
AI and automation in the classroom
AI-powered personal assistants similar to Amazon’s Alexa have also been deployed in schools – one device, called Merlyn, is designed to help teachers with classroom management and in presenting their lessons.
This trend links back once again to the fact that attention spans are shrinking, and there is always something competing for our time. Nano-learning describes a new EdTech concept where we can get ultra-bite-sized lessons exactly when and where we need them. Under this paradigm, it doesn't matter if we don't even remember what we've learned for more than 10 minutes because when we need to use the knowledge again, we can simply re-learn it!