[Trends 2020] 5 Key Shifts Transforming Education
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If knowledge in the 20th century rested in the hands of a few, information in the 21st century lies in the hands of many. Spurred by the exponential growth of technology, digital knowhow has made it possible for anyone anywhere to access information on the go. Technology has revolutionized all walks of life, and education is no exception.
Whether in school or college, learning is no longer restricted to the physical classroom, nor is it solely teacher-driven. Rather, it is increasingly happening online through modules chosen by students based on their preferred difficulty levels, relevance and interests. Further, students are becoming collaborators in their learning journeys rather than mere passive receivers of instruction.
Together, these shifts are rewriting the rules in the education sector. Let’s look at five trends that I believe will dominate the space in 2020 and beyond.
Personalised learning arrives
Learning is a subjective process. However, school and university grading systems continue to use standardized tests that ignore the individual abilities of different students. As advanced digital technologies continue to permeate learning environments, students will be able to learn in ways best suited to their capabilities. Be it through interactive games, modelling tools, audio or motion pictures, learners can access various tech-enabled devices and programmes that resonate with their subjective learning styles.
In India, online tutoring firm and edtech companies have demonstrated how personalised learning can become effective through gamification, videos and interactive media.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) enters classrooms
AI and other next-generation technologies will influence learning material and educational software in 2020 and beyond. AI can potentially make learning more inclusive and accessible as AI-enabled learning software can seamlessly adapt to a student’s individual abilities. Therefore, students stand to benefit from modules that help them learn in the way best suited to them. According to a recent study, the application of AI in education and learning will increase by nearly 50 per cent in 2021. Further, its impact will be felt right from primary school to institutions of higher learning.
Over time, AI and other deep technologies, such as virtual reality, will help enhance student participation rates and the quality of education. Student participation will become scalable, enabling more meaningful engagement between teachers and students.
Advanced tech also offers solutions and tools for students with disabilities and those who have trouble reading. This includes voice-to-text and text-to-voice transcription services as well as audio-visual content. At the University of Pennsylvania, for example, screen readers and cameras help visually impaired students access courses. Tech-driven tools such as tactile drawing boards, refreshable Braille displays and screen readers enable such students to pursue vision-dependent subjects such as math. This inclusiveness also extends to location. Thanks to technology, students in remote locations can now access quality education through video conferencing and web-based apps.
Experiential and immersive learning grows
In May 2014, Stanford University put out an experiential exhibit titled Stanford 2025. Staged as a time travel journey, it invited audiences to the year 2100 to retrospectively examine paradigm shifts that ‘occurred’ at the university around 2025. The exhibit was a good indicator of the growing shift towards experiential and immersive learning.
While experiential learning will enable learners to acquire skills that empower them to tackle everyday life challenges, immersive learning will provide students with the opportunity to plunge into a field or discipline different from their own. Both herald ways of teaching and learning that are distinctive and new while providing education that will prepare the workforce to meet industry challenges.
A 2019 Gallup poll conducted in the US on Creativity in Learning has shown that up to 87 per cent of teachers believe that incorporating creativity in the classroom has a big payoff for students. One of the report’s key findings is that creativity in learning produces positive critical outcomes for students, which are further improved when teachers are able to leverage technology.
Lifelong learning triumphs
As technology continues to disrupt the workspace, it is clear that today’s students will need to develop an attitude of openness and flexibility towards learning. According to a report published by Dell Technologies, up to 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. This proves something that pedagogists have been calling out for long—the need to embrace the ability to learn on the job.
This is vital because the idea that learning the skills of a single trade will see you through a lifetime is obsolete. Instead, as David Epstein says in his book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World, today’s evolving ecosystem demands people with ‘range’, or people who embrace diverse experiences and perspectives.
Technology and globalization are already transforming the workplace. By 2022, there will be a surge in demand for data analysts and scientists, software and application developers, and e-commerce and social media specialists. There will also be a demand for new, highly specialized roles for AI and machine learning specialists, big data specialists, process automation experts, robotics engineers and blockchain specialists.
The time has arrived for students to become lifelong learners, and it is up to players in the education field to teach them how to explore different subjects and disciplines.