Education is one of an essential parts in the upbringing of children, and it is our duty to continuously improve it, so as to secure a better future for mankind.
With amazing technological progress being the staple of our generation, it’s only natural for both well-established companies, as well as start-ups to introduce students to new ways of learning. This list contains the 10 most promising technology trends that will improve education as we know it.
Artificial Intelligence has been slowly improving other fields, and education is up next. With the help of AI, teachers will be able to realize their shortcomings of their ways in order to improve themselves and adapt to the learning style of each class. There are certain online tutoring websites, such as Third Space Learning, who have successfully implemented AI into their systems. Therefore, whenever a student seems to misunderstand a new subject based on their answers, the system warns the tutor early on in order for them to be able to prevent any further misunderstandings.
Another great way of using AI in education is to create virtual teachers, which could hold a lot of information on subjects that they have studied, as they couldn’t possibly be subjective, therefore providing students with the cold, hard facts. These virtual teachers could be easily implemented in apps, virtual reality or even in real life, through holograms made possible by augmented reality headsets. Additionally, AI could help classrooms all over the globe be inter-connected by tracking each classroom’s data, then creating useful statistics for the other ones.
For example, data from one teacher’s session on teaching a certain lesson can be used by another teacher who is yet to teach that lesson, and can see which were the high and low points of the lesson. In this way, not only could lessons be made more exciting, but also more efficient.
Perhaps one of the most natural evolution in the classroom is the transition from paper-based textbooks and notebooks to e-books and text editing software. This transition is not only friendly to the environment, as no more paper needs to be wasted by students and publishing companies, but also extremely efficient: students are able to easily edit what they have already written, can work together on tasks using online software, and don’t have to carry around heavy bags of books, while publishing companies are able to cut down on their printing costs and edit textbooks online, so as to reflect the most recent and accurate information.
Another huge problem that is seemingly solved by digital textbooks is the outrageous cost of paper-based textbooks in the United States, which are paid by students who are already deep in debt after having to pay for university. By allowing students to rent digital copies of textbooks, companies are not only securing themselves a place among digital publishers, but are also saving students hundreds of dollars yearly.
Fortunately, it seems that this transition is taking off at a rapid pace on a global scale, as schools find it better to lend students designated tablets, or let them bring their own devices. It seems that the majority of people are agreeing with this transition, as proponents of devices over textbooks claim that they are not only more convenient in every way, but they also improve standardized test scores. On the other side, there are the “purists”, who claim that they will always enjoy the feeling of an actual book over holding an e-book reader.
While far from a new trend in technology, cloud computing has been rapidly extending, to the current point where most people are storing their files on at least one such service, with at least 95% of respondents to a survey using some sort of cloud-based service. This technology creates the basis for a functional online classroom, as students now have access to their digital textbooks from any location, using any device.
Teachers can also use this technology in order to upload important learning material such as videos or manuals and share them seamlessly with their students, thus reducing costs by removing the need for printing and copying.
Another great example of cloud computing is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which most people use without even knowing. Microsoft’s free Office Online, as well as its paid Office 365 counterpart are shining examples of SaaS, allowing people to access, share and work on their documents from a large variety of devices.
While there are many advanced uses for cloud computing that can be applied to education in order to improve the lives of teachers and students alike, one cannot overlook the most basic one: storing files on free services such as Google Drive, which offers 20 GB of storage for free, saves people money, as they do not need to purchase external hard drives.
While not exactly a household term, Big Data has a powerful impact on all aspects of our lives, even going as far as enabling doctors and researchers to understand mental illnesses. The term sounds extremely intimidating, but what exactly is Big Data?
Big Data is the entirety of data created by the usage of technology. This data is then processed by companies, creating relevant statistics. This allows teachers to properly identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student in order to change their methods, if needed, and to create balanced work groups for projects.
Gamification is a unique item on the list, in that it is not exactly a technology trend, but rather a trend born from technology. As its name suggests, it stems from gaming, which is perhaps one of the most popular hobbies among students.
The way it works is easy to understand and apply: instead of simply using grades to motivate students, teachers come up with various challenges that, when completed, give the student access to more advanced challenges, as well as a sense of fulfillment. Often, teachers will also choose a certain reward for each completed challenge, meaning that students also have a tangible reward to look forward to. Leaderboards may also be used in order to encourage students to do their best and to train their competitive side.
There are certain mobile apps that help track students’ progress and their already unlocked challenges, granting them achievements that they can show off on their profile.
Another fancy term that’s yet to become viral, mind mapping is actually similar to brainstorming, except for the fact that instead of ideas, it’s facts that are written down. There’s also a rhyme and reason to everything that is written down, as information is broken down into different, color-coded categories that take up different sides of the surface, making every bit of information easy to process and memorise.
Mind mapping is not a new concept, but it has been enjoying a surge of popularity in the recent years due to many mind mapping programs appearing on the market. Both paid and free, these programs allow teachers to effortlessly create mind maps for every lesson, which ensures their students’ success.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre items on the list for someone used to the public education system, flipped learning is a new way of teaching made possible by the widespread of technology among citizens. The concept has been successfully applied in several private academies, and continues to spread worldwide.
In a flipped learning environment, students learn new lessons at home, watching video lectures and studying online materials, then go to school in order to do their homework with teachers. In this way, not only are students able to feel more comfortable and relaxed while studying, as the concept is similar to watching educational YouTube videos, but they are also able to ask for help immediately when encountering roadblocks in their homework.
The fact that the teacher is no longer the lone knowledge keeper also plays a huge part in the proper education of students, as they are no longer taught from a subjective point of view. Instead, they are now able to create their own points of view on the subjects after extensive research.
Virtual reality has been one of the most popular tech subjects in the last few years, as it finally made its debut into the homes of consumers with the release of Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. While people at home are mostly concerned with how much fun these headsets may provide, the technology is able to create useful virtual workspaces that will act as training grounds for students. This means that future surgeons will be able to improve their skills using virtual patients and tools by taking the role of chief surgeon, which is more effective than simply standing in the operating theater, watching someone else work.
But training isn’t the only education application of virtual reality. Google, among many other companies, have uploaded virtual tours of museums, which may, in time, substitute the costly and lengthy road trips. Creativity can also be stimulated through virtual reality programs such as Google’s Tilt Brush, which places players into a simulated room with complex 3D paint brushes, allowing them to create colorful 3D paintings.
Costly as it may be in the present, virtual reality has a real future in the classroom, as schools will most likely invest large sums of money in order to provide students with the most advanced learning environments. With the success of Rec Room, a game that simulates social environments through virtual reality, it may not be long before students gather in simulated classrooms.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality hasn’t had a great development process. The first time augmented reality became a popular subject was with the failed Google Glass, which boasted a high buy-in price to be a tester, and then was silently pulled back for more development. Microsoft apparently saw something in this market, and went on to produce the Hololens, which took the world by storm when it was first unveiled in January 2015.
While the Hololens and many other augmented reality headsets still have a long way to go before they are usable and affordable to consumers, their potential in the classrooms is not lost on anyone. One demonstration video is enough to make you imagine students sitting in a classroom and being amazed at a hologram of the human body appearing in front of the class, enabling them to study anatomy with simple gestures and voice commands.
Voice recognition software is all the rage in the mobile market right now, with every big company investing large sums of money so that their virtual assistant understands most phrases. This is, of course, a welcome improvement to every smartphone, but Amazon has been paving the way for the use of voice recognition in the classroom, and it certainly is promising.
The Amazon Echo, Amazon’s home device which contains the virtual assistant, Alexa, has slowly been infiltrating households and workplaces. Thanks to its useful features, it seems to also be finding its place in classrooms, as several teachers found it enhancing their classes. By simply saying “Alexa”, and then continuing with your request, the Amazon Echo can serve as a true assistant to every class: it can search for terms and data on the Internet, calculate quickly, provide synonyms, set timers and so on. What is more, the fact that the assistant has a name means that students can look at Alexa as a friendly person who makes classes easier and more fun.
Teachers not satisfied with Alexa’s capabilities can teach her new skills and answers to certain questions, customizing every classroom’s experience.
If you know of any other promising tech trends that may improve the classroom of the future, let us know in the comments.