The use of educational technology has been on the rise for several years. The sudden shift to widespread online learning due to the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, however, has forced educators to find even more creative ways to employ technology and address instructional problems.
Here are five trends to look for as ed tech evolves:
- Personalized Learning
As technology advances, the ability to personalize the learning experience increases. Tools like Google Analytics allow schools to obtain and analyze the data that will inform and drive education at the classroom, building and district levels.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is particularly useful for helping educators overcome the constraints of standardization. AI tools perceive, recognize and recommend changes based on collected data.
AI, like that employed by Personalized Learning Squared (PL²), pairs students with individualized, innovative digital learning programs by analyzing student work and generating reports for tutors and teachers, alerting them to trends and limitations they may have not thought to explore.
- Mobile Technology
Mobile technology reaches students in almost all geographic locations and connects them with resources and tools best suited to their learning styles. Not only have educational institutions across the globe turned to existing mobile technologies, they have also started developing their own mobile tools to enhance the academic lives of their students and faculty.
An EdTech Magazine article on the positive impact of mobile devices in K-12 cites a report titled Beyond Engagement, written by Julie Evans. A key finding is that students can better develop workplace- and college-readiness skills when they have access to digital content, tools and resources in the K-12 classroom.
- Immersive Learning Experiences
As educational technology improves, teaching and learning will become more personalized, intuitive and connected. It will also likely become more immersive, inviting learners to be part of a narrative. Two of the most widely used technologies are:
- Virtual Reality (VR) – Through a headset, virtual objects appear real to the user.
- Augmented Reality (AR) – The user does not have a fully immersive experience, but this technology enhances the real world, using images, text, and virtual information.
By using VR and AR, learners can draw their own conclusions, gain confidence in developing skills, and employ what they learn in simulated real-life situations or scenarios. VR and AR technology are quickly evolving and becoming more affordable and user-friendly.
- Online Learning
With the shift to digital learning due, in large measure, to COVID-19, the use of learning management systems (LMS) has risen significantly, as faculty and administrators look for ways to engage and connect with students outside of the traditional school environment.
Institutions are playing with class models that allow students to learn in a variety of ways, increasing flexibility to meet student needs. Learning management systems and online learning in general are and will continue to be key to the success of models that meet students where they are.
- Equitable Digital Learning
Although digital technology improves accessibility, it must evolve in order to address the limitations posed by unequal access.
Take, for instance, the digital learning gap. Students from low-income homes or rural communities often do not have the same access to digital tools and resources as their peers. This gap has widened with the pandemic-induced shift to digital learning. Educators must be prepared to address issues related to the digital learning gap as technology evolves.
Each of these trends will have an impact on the future of education and decisions made in school buildings and classrooms.
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