It is impossible to exaggerate how much the edtech sector is growing – in fact, exploding might be a better word! The edtech market in the UK is now estimated to be £3.2bn following growth during 2020 of more than 70 percent.
This phenomenal growth ensures that the sector is newsworthy, but what are the key trends emerging? These trends are the ones to watch throughout the coming year–and probably the coming decade.
The ability to connect with anyone anywhere on the globe, instantly, has been a game changer for the education sector. With vast tracts of the world’s knowledge available at their fingertips, today’s students benefit from an immersive and engaging experience that previous generations could only dream about. But things have moved on far more quickly than expected thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and educators are making edtech an integral part of their teaching rather than simply a useful addition.
Today, teachers are beginning to use edtech to create individual lesson plans and personalized learning, taking each pupil on their own journey and at their own pace. Teachers can also tailor learning in response to the real-time data they are able to receive, with immediate evidence of where students are falling behind or moving ahead of the group. With this knowledge comes the ability to step in at an early stage to correct misconceptions or move the student on to more challenging work.
If you can’t beat them, join them–and that is exactly what some teachers are doing to increase engagement in learning. We all know the difficulties of persuading a child to stop playing on their device, so today many educators are taking an alternative approach and actively incorporating gamification into their planning.
Where in the past pupils might have played variations of battleships or top trumps to consolidate learning, this generation has a more sophisticated take on the games they want to play and edtech allows for this, introducing games such as Kahoot!, Pictionary, and even Minecraft into the classroom.
Gamification is a powerful tool in education that can be harnessed to really inspire and motivate students. Learning games and apps, from times tables to languages, are set to be increasingly and widely included on the traditional curriculum. By adapting the games that students are choosing to play in their own time and incorporating lessons within them, it is possible to disguise learning as fun.
AI-driven teaching programmes
Simple versions of automatic marking systems have been around for a while, but artificial intelligence (AI) is now much more advanced and can give answers to basic–and sometimes quite complex—questions, freeing up teaching time for those students who need higher levels of teacher interaction. As we look to the future, it is possible to imagine a world where the computer analyses the quality of a student’s work, making a judgment as to whether they need to continue on the current level of difficulty or are ready to advance through the program.
By taking over the initial phase of marking work, the AI system identifies those pupils who are not following the predicted pattern, whether that be by exceeding the expected work or falling behind. Whereas a teacher in the past would work around an entire classroom before pinpointing where action was needed, we are already starting to see how automated marking can help target action. In the future it is feasible that the AI program will also be able to take the appropriate action for the pupil.
Pushing the boundaries of edtech
One example of exactly how edtech is advancing has been highlighted by Microsoft. Professor David Kellerman has succeeded in developing an AI-based learning platform, which is used by his students in Australia. Although originally a mechanical engineer, he switched to teaching and is now a senior lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney.
He has created a learning platform that combines probably every product Microsoft offers – ranging from a question bot that is able to answer a student’s queries, searching out the relevant video clips from previous lectures and delivering them directly to the student, to a Power B1 dashboard that shows how exam answers compare to those of other students and so developing personalised study packs.
The rapid growth of edtech may have accelerated as a result of the limits placed on face-to-face teaching during the pandemic, but that growth is set to continue exponentially with the realization that it provides enormous benefits to students and educators alike. And it’s not only the young who reap the rewards, but people of all ages can grow their skills through the adoption of edtech platforms.
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