How Will EdTech Do In the New Year
Online learning is not only part of the "new normal", it is also giving rise to new and exciting possibilities in 2022 and beyond
Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a fundamental shift within the education sector. Education systems are adapting to a new reality where online learning is essential in the fight against coronavirus, allowing education to continue where previously it would have been impossible. Online learning is not only part of the “new normal”, it is also giving rise to new and exciting possibilities in 2022 and beyond.
Re-skilling and lifelong learning
The global pandemic and the shift to a more online, digital economy have inspired many people to gain new skills through education: in fact, a PwC survey of more than 32,000 members of the general public across 19 countries found that 77 per cent of people are ready to learn a new skill. During the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for short-term professional courses has risen, and online learning has made it far easier for people to gain skills, advance their careers and prepare for jobs in the post-pandemic era.
There are a number of reasons for this. Due to ease of access and availability, online learning can often fit around a demanding schedule, allowing people to pursue education while still fulfilling other responsibilities to work and family. A further factor is that, because online learners are usually highly motivated, learning can be intensive or self-paced – meaning that the amount of time required to complete an online course is often significantly reduced. More simply, however, online education programs are often far more cost-effective than traditional in-person university courses – so those who are unable to afford university levels of tuition now have a way to gain crucial skills that will boost their earnings.
New teaching methods powered by EdTech
When it comes to teaching innovations, bite-size learning modules, the use of AR (augmented reality), and gamification are just some of the trends coming into view. The proliferation of smartphones and mobile Internet are also having a huge effect on the edtech market, making bitesize teaching not only possible but also highly effective. Gamification, AR and VR (virtual reality) technologies help make learning more interactive and fun, which in turn boosts learner engagement and motivation. For example, research in 2020 showed that challenge-based gamification leads to an increase in student performance of almost 35 per cent.
VR tech promises benefits no less exciting: for the first time, children can explore the world without stepping outside their classroom. Virtual field trips mean that they can learn about science, art or history in a way that brings these subjects to life – from a virtual visit of the Louvre Museum to a journey through the Arctic. Augmented reality also makes learning interactive by layering computer graphics onto traditional educational materials – for example, allowing learners to learn about stars and constellations by holding their smartphone up to the night sky.
Edtech also has the potential to allow for a far more personalised learning experience, with online educational content available in a range of formats, from video and live tuition to AI-driven apps and on-demand streaming. Because learning is accomplished on students’ individual devices, Ed-Tech applications can monitor their comprehension and progress in a subject, adjusting their approach to the student’s learning style, strengths and weaknesses. And it works: a UK trial of a personalised math program for schools showed pupil progress per year far above the national average.
Teachers can also quickly review granular data on which assignments their students have completed, which areas they performed well in, and how long they spent on particular questions.
Sharing and security
The emergence of Blockchain technology is beginning to facilitate verification in educational contexts. Because it does not permit data alteration, Blockchain is more secure from hackers and other sources of corruption. Transcripts, certificates and diplomas can be stored on Blockchain, making it easier for students to access and share their qualifications, and easier for employers or institutions to verify them. In 2019, two per cent of US higher education institutions had already begun to use blockchain for such purposes.
The road ahead
Ed-Tech and the styles of teaching it makes possible is expected to be an increasingly important part of the educational landscape. Education outside of traditional institutions will grow and grow, with learners taking their educational pathway into their own hands. And as the global economy evolves, educators, companies and individuals will continue to move towards a model of lifelong skills-based learning – all made possible by the freedom and flexibility that online learning provides.