What is the ‘hot topic’ right now in educational technologies? What is edtech? What are the technological trends in education? What technologies will be popular and what new teaching approaches will be in trend? And the main question — what top trends in education are we going to see in edtech in 2021 and beyond? Too many questions, right? So first things first.
What are the basics of edtech?
Let's start from the beginning. In fact, technical solutions were integrated into the edtech sphere not so long ago, but today no one can imagine the studying process without it. To follow this trend, I will dwell a little on the development of technologies in education.
Here I present a few milestones that were an important impetus for introducing technology into the learning process.
Firstly, it all started at the time of a mathematician and professor Seymour Papert. In the early 1980s, he introduced microcomputers in the classroom to teach the basics of programming. His Logo program was created for his students to learn language commands to create graphic shapes.
Then in the mid-1980s, when Apple began mass production of computers, it also influenced the development of information technologies and their integration into the educational world.
Thirdly, in 1998 Wikipedia was created — the largest encyclopedia in the world, materials for which are created not by professional editors, but by all the Internet users who consider themselves competent in the relevant issues. This has affected the speed at which information is found and assimilated.
Finally, in 1999 the trend of e-learning was already boosting. E-learning laid the foundation for the next decade in terms of technology, standards, and approaches, a period that represents the golden age of e-learning.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, new educational technologies have started to appear and fill the market every year, such as Blogs, Videos with educational content, Learning Management Systems (LMS), E-portfolios, Social Media, Learning analytics, Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR).
What does edtech look like now?
This lightning-fast development of education technology is evolving and it is huge.
“Education is a $10 trillion industry by 2030.” — says HolonIQ.
Education and training expenditure could reach around $ 10T by 2030.
Educational expenditure includes the following sectors: Pre-K, Post Secondary, K-12, Corporate, Lifelong Learning training.
To prove that this industry is a real gold mine and it is necessary to follow the trends in education technology, look at the chart below. The forecast shows a steady increase in consumer expenditure on learning over 10 years.
Another factor to take into consideration is the rate of population growth. Every day the population increases by 200,000 people. Most likely, by 2030 the world’s population will have grown by about 1 billion people. Just imagine the pressure on the education sector, as well as the open question of further stable and efficient scaling. To stay always up-to-date you need to keep an eye on edtech trends.
What trends are happening in edtech now?
Check out 4 emerging trends in educational technology:
Teachers will learn from Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has existed for a long time, but every day it evolves and affects the learning environment. AI will be integrated into the education sphere progressively. Also, there is an opinion that AI can lead to our destruction or to our salvation. But we are really far from that. For example, the well-known “Siri” is a good example of a pretty complicated AI. Moreover, we regularly see the AI around us in our daily life, listening to recommended songs on Spotify or buying recommended items on Amazon.
AI will help us to build the education process, namely how and what way exactly it is recommended for students to learn. What will the future of education technology look like?
First of all, AI will be able to read signals from students' brains and process this data to better understand their gaps. Based on this data, AI will create special lesson plans for each student enhancing personalized learning like never before. Exactly here it will come to teachers. They shouldn’t be scared to be overtaken by technologies but should be inspired by working with AI assistance. Teachers will be able to use the data created by AI not only to better understand their students, but also to quantitatively measure their students' learning.
AI also offers the opportunity to learn additional material that is relevant to the topic under study. Namely, it tells you which gaps to fill on a specific topic (which you might not even know about). This approach helps to expand students’ knowledge in the subject and boost their productivity.
Furthermore, AI will even offer highly customized learning pathways, considering the skills the students were improving before. The most famous example is the smart LinkedIn function (LinkedIn E-learning), which analyzes your interests and uses special algorithms to offer you the material necessary to improve your skills in a particular area.
Gamification will be used to enhance e-learning
Edutainment (education+entertainment) is a new developing sweet spot. This learning model is in demand not only among children but also among adults. There are several explanations of why this phenomenon is gaining popularity.
First, introducing gamification into the learning process creates a competitive environment. You have heard about “The Super Mario Effect”, haven't you? Competition is in humans’ DNA. Let me explain what exactly I mean.
Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer & a YouTube blogger, articulated this idea for the first time a few years ago. It generally means “stop focusing on pits, better focus on Princess”. Meaning that you should better focus on your desired aim and not waste your time and energy on failure, just make use of the positive result and move on. This idea perfectly matches with the learning process. Education should be provided as an attractive game that allows students to concentrate more on the process of learning but not the failures. The generation of millennials grew up with this game; that is why this generation is more responsive to gamification. The idea of “playing the lesson” helps to enhance successfully the assimilation of new information. Also, it increases the involvement, interest, and attention to the material.
Today, everybody is under the influence of rapid technology development; and many enterprises also switch to the option of gamification during training, because it is a great way of non-material motivation. Many companies have developed so-called badges — virtual award badges, which are displayed in an employee’s or student’s card. They are given for valuable ideas, presentations and going beyond the plan. Badges clearly show the achievements, knowledge, skills, and strengths of an employee or student. This automatically increases interest and motivation in the work process.
VR, MR and AR is a tool for Immersive Training Experience
Virtual Reality Technologies are already fundamentally changing the way we learn. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality (VR, AR, MR) are integrating into the educational sphere every year and of course, remain in the trends of 2020. Such kind of training allows people to immerse themselves in an interactive learning environment that simulates reality. It helps teachers to pass on their experience to students to a much greater extent. Scientists around the world support the use of VR technology for training as a means of understanding and memorizing material. Any skills are easier to learn if you train in an interactive, three-dimensional environment. We live in a 3D world, but we use 2D material for learning. Seems like there is a gap that we need to bridge...
The medical sphere enjoys the advantages of VR in their working experience as well. The best educational technology allows inexperienced specialists to master the practice in parallel with theory, which increases the efficiency of learning and facilitates the memorization process. To perform various operations and other medical treatments without the risk of harming the patient — immersive virtual reality is just a find.
More than that, VR systems are a great help to educate surgeons. In Stanford Medical Center the surgeons can practice the upcoming operation as now they have “a window into the brain”. VR immersion can let them into the brain of a patient.
“The system allows instructors to highlight different areas of the brain, such as arteries to show an aneurysm, bones to show skull deformities or tissue to show a tumor while rotating the image to illustrate how a tumor or aneurysm looks from different angles. They can also walk, as avatars, through the steps for removing a tumor or fixing an aneurysm, starting outside the skull,” wrote Mandy Erickson in Stanford Medicine Blog.
Mobile Learning on the go
If you want the demand for your courses not to decrease, you should pay attention to mobile education. Numbers show that the share of mobile internet traffic is almost 50% in 2020.
Let’s dig into some statistics of mobile app downloads within two huge rival marketplaces of the globe. Below you can find the apps’ distribution by category.
Here you can enjoy the analysis which was conducted by comparing Google Play and iOS App Store by September 2020.
We might note that education is the most popular category in the Google Play marketplace, while in App Store the category Games is on the top. But still, the distribution of educational apps in both marketplaces is really high. Up to 200,000 free apps and 4,000 paid apps were downloaded in App Store, while in Google Play about 300,000 free apps and up to 15,000 paid apps were downloaded.
Therefore, we clearly see that the number of educational applications is simply huge, or more precisely, ranked in the top 3 of all downloads! That’s a pretty strong indication that the modern generation is increasingly learning on the go and prefers mobile devices, rather than desktops. As a consequence, the mobile learning trend is obvious because it allows students to learn particular material while they are on the move, which also speeds up the learning process as it increases the likelihood of spending more free time on learning. Access to learning materials should be quick and easy nowadays.
Are difficulties equal to new opportunities?
According to analysts' forecasts, the global market for online education platforms will grow by 41% every year. And by 2026, it will reach $65.5 billion. The world does not stand still and our educational behavior is changing, and will continue to change due to the extremely rapid development of technology. And if you want to be trendy in edtech, you cannot ignore the new tendencies.
All in all, the impact of information technology on the process of perception of education is really significant. In addition to a huge number of advantages, such as virtual reality, recommendations on how to study the material, saving teachers' time and so on, it has a significant number of issues. The modern generation suffers from an overabundance of information, and many schoolchildren refuse to perceive information through books. It is easier for us to type information on a computer than to write by hand. The fact is that the computer has replaced many processes of our brain, we want it to decide many things for us, which leads to the degradation of thinking. Thinking about the gaps in the technology deployment, you should always keep in mind that if there is an issue, there is always a solution that can be turned to a business idea or a new breakthrough.