As 2018 comes to a close and we prepare to ring in the new year, it is time to look ahead and make our predictions on the new directions in which education technology is going. Technology is continuing to advance in all fields and education is no exception: we may not be able to see the future, but we can make an educated guess on the EdTech trends for the coming year.
In 1951, Isaac Asimov imagined that in 2157, children would no longer go to school, but learn from machines that could teach them lessons and evaluate their homework: that day may be closer than he ever believed. Artificial intelligence is on the rise and the classroom is no stranger to this trend: the growing importance and capabilities of AI will change the learning experience for both students and teachers.
From AI teaching assistants to using data analysis to help pupils focus on the areas in which they are lacking, to the acknowledgement that computational thinking, coding and robotics are a fundamental part of the school curriculum and that coding should be considered a form of literacy, teachers have not been replaced by machines yet and probably will not be for a long time, but both educators and learners can expect to rely more on artificial intelligence in 2019.
The impact of EdTech on schools has changed, and will continue to change, the way classrooms look and feel. Interactive whiteboards, projectors, and mobile devices at every student’s disposal, whether assigned by the school or brought from home, are flanking and sometimes replacing the traditional blackboards and chalk we used to associate to the school experience, wi-fi connection in classrooms is more readily available, and EdTech is transforming even the design of the classroom itself, which may become an environment in which everyone is equal, with no ‘front’ from which the teacher can impart knowledge to be accepted without question, an interactive, adaptable ‘smart space’ in which information comes from multiple sources.
Using technology in the classroom is no longer limited to students staring at screens. One of the trends we can expect in 2019 is for technology to become even more pervasive and immersive and to take new and more diverse forms: the rise of wearable technology and the Internet of Things means that common objects in our lives, including the ones we use in class, will be augmented and acquire the capability to store and give information, making technology more and more integrated into our daily activities.
It comes as no surprise, then, that with the growing presence of technology in our day to day routines, one of the most hotly anticipated EdTech trends for 2019 is the cheaper and more widespread use of mixed reality, which allow students to interact with their surroundings in new ways and even simulate different environments they would never otherwise reach without stepping out of the classroom. VR sets and digital twins of real-world objects will grant them an immersive, hands-on experience without the difficulties and dangers of interacting with the physical counterparts of the places and things they are shown, and augmented reality will train them for a future in which technology is a part of the fabric of the world.
The changes in students’ learning experience are not just physical: the advancement of EdTech goes beyond the addition of more devices to the classroom and affects education at a deeper level, bringing profound innovations to the way information is given and assimilated. The coming year will see a continuation of the trend of focusing on each individual student’s needs, using technology to provide a personalised path to learning in which content adapts to students and not vice versa: with the aid of EdTech, learning becomes a continuous, multimedia experience that spans many different forms, follows students home if they cannot be present, is interactive and engaging, particularly with the rising popularity of gamification, and most importantly, does not expect everyone to conform to the same educational model that may work well for some students and be damaging to others.
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