As we inch closer to 2020, we can look back at the significant strides and innovations in educational technology and the ways EdTech has redefined traditional education in the first two decades of the 21st century. Technology has become an integral part of the everyday learning process, with students, teachers, parents, and administrators all using important devices and software each day to increase efficiency and improve learning outcomes.
After so much growth in the EdTech industry and the creation of a surplus of EdTech products, it’s hard to imagine how much room the industry still has to grow. Yet new educational technology solutions are being discovered every day to help educators and students improve the learning process and achieve success. These emerging trends are the EdTech solutions of the future and will have a bold impact on the industry in the next decade.
Here are five emerging EdTech trends you should watch for this year:
- Alternate Realities: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality
The first educational stride in the alternate reality trend came with the affordability and accessibility of Google Cardboard, which allowed students to convert their personal devices into virtual reality (VR) simulators. This enables students to visually experience valuable learning opportunities—such as observing a surgery or exploring a historic monument—as if they are actually there. Augmented reality (AR) is currently a hot topic in the EdTech space, with many innovative resources popping up on the market for students and teachers to take advantage of all of its possibilities. AR is technology that digitally places interactive elements in the real world, simulating objects that are right in front of students, typically through the camera of a smartphone or other handheld personal device. Finally, mixed reality (MR) has begun to make its debut in the classroom, enabling students to experience a virtual environment that is superimposed on the physical environment. MR shows great potential for the educational technology market, with predicted global growth of 90% until 2021.
- On-Demand Education and Independent Learning
Students—particularly those in high school—have begun taking greater ownership of their education, becoming more independent as learners. In the classroom, this has resulted in an increase in blended learning models, allowing students to complete online work in their own time. Additionally, teachers have had to rethink their lesson plans in order to engage Generation Z students, who rank video lessons as their preferred learning tool over learning apps and printed books. Greater student autonomy has also led to an increasing population of students who choose to attend online or blended learning schools, along with a greater social acceptance of these alternative learning paths.
- Digital Security and Student Data Privacy
Student safety is always going to be a top priority in schools, and many new EdTech solutions have emerged to support schools’ missions to keep students safe. From fingerprint and facial recognition software to digital student safety monitoring services, schools are striving for ultimate digital security to protect students and faculty both in and out of the classroom.
Student data privacy is also a top concern for schools, especially amid countless cybersecurity breaches and ransomware attacks on schools within the first half of 2019. Districts and administrators are searching for new ways to protect sensitive student data from being breached in a hack—especially their personally identifiable information such as name, address, and birth date. An ever-growing collection of resources to support student data privacy have also emerged, such as the Education Privacy Resource Center, FERPA|Sherpa.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the use of computer programming to imitate human thought and decision-making by analyzing data, solving and anticipating problems, and learning and adapting to different tasks through another computing process known as machine learning. Other than being a complicated concept to grasp, AI has critical uses in the education space, including personalizing learning for every student, analyzing and interpreting student data, and improving teacher efficiency. Machine learning—an aspect of AI that is also seen in learning analytics—also has an important place in the future of EdTech, particularly in its ability to decrease teacher time spent doing administrative tasks, predict future student outcomes, and develop personalized learning plans for students.
- Robotics and Programming
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects are the foundation of the future careers of today’s K-12 students. With careers in STEM fields on the rise faster than the average growth for non-STEM jobs in the US, students will have to step up to higher-level technical careers in order to feed the growing market. With this in mind, it’s important that students are learning the STEM skills necessary today to be successful in college and future careers, including fundamental coding and programming skills and their functional connection with robotics. Many innovative products and software have been designed to aid teachers in supporting students’ programming and robotics journeys, such as the Mimio MyBot educational robotics system, which offers a digital programming interface along with physical robotics and engineering elements.
These topics are just a few of the big trends that will become the EdTech solutions of the future, changing the educational technology space for years to come. What trends do you expect to emerge and have a significant impact on EdTech in the future? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to our Educator blog to receive the latest news and trends!