Through a student engagement lens, an edtech expert’s look at the future of learning.
GUEST COLUMN | by Hugo Aguirre
The past two years’ events have had a tremendous effect on the adoption of new technologies in the education sector. In 2021, the edtech market was valued at $254.80 billion, and experts suggest it might reach more than $600 billion by 2027.
Edtech’s primary aim should be to help us overcome the most pressing challenges in today’s education. And as of late, the most prominent one is the lack of interest in learning from students. This has resulted in some children falling behind, which is worrying, to say the least. However, we now have the tools to help tackle this issue.
‘Edtech’s primary aim should be to help us overcome the most pressing challenges in today’s education. And as of late, the most prominent one is the lack of interest in learning from students.’
Here are five edtech trends that educational institutions can implement to make students excited about learning.
Immersive learning refers to the use of tools such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 360° videos to improve the learning process. They give the student the ability to explore places and subjects they wouldn’t normally be able to. For example, when studying the Inca culture, children could take a virtual trip to Machu Picchu to see the former buzzing hub of a whole ancient civilization up close while also accessing layers of additional information to tease their curiosity.
Experiences like this one will make lectures and classes feel more tangible to students, which can have a positive impact as it motivates them to learn further and explore independently. It also allows for personalization as each individual can go through the content at their own pace, taking off the pressure from students who require more time to learn.
Improvements in Software and Apps
In 2021, we saw how fast educational software adapted to the needs of students and teachers worldwide. The itinerating methodology – rolling out new features and testing them in real-time to improve the product – means that these apps and programs constantly update their functionalities as we collectively figure out what works best for each learning environment. In 2022, this will only continue, and we will see developers unveiling more products that will adjust better to the different schooling systems.
Notably, advancements in simulators have become a particularly beneficial tool in the classroom. They allow students to manipulate diverse objects just like in real life – but safely.
It’s All a Game
Gamification is by no means a new trend, but it will see great development in the coming years. Educators are noticing that including game dynamics in their lessons – like a points system or missions – is very helpful to get students involved. This approach has proven successful for us at the company I work at because it relates to one of our fundamental principles: Learning should always be fun.
There are many platforms and tools that allow teachers to integrate game-like assignments into their coursework. One of these is Nearpod which helps you build interactive activities around any type of content. For example, educators could include a set of game show trivia to see the classroom’s level and integrate what they already know into what they will be learning.
Expansion of Computational Thinking
Schools and educators have realized that the skills developed through computational thinking are useful in other contexts outside of computer science or STEM subjects. Everyone can benefit from learning the basics of algorithmic processing to solve complex problems. Simply put, computational thinking implies tearing down a task into smaller ones and following a systematic approach to solve each of these individually, as a computer would.
Developing this skill helps students focus on the solution rather than the problem and use tools that perform intricate activities such as data analysis. The aim is to find tendencies and patterns and construct algorithms that can repeat the same actions to solve the task before them. This kind of reasoning will prove very useful in the future since software developers will be the highest-paying job soon.
Diverse Learning Modalities
2021 was a rollercoaster of a year in terms of uncertainty around the return to a pre-pandemic life. This situation meant the coexistence of in-person schooling and remote learning, synchronous and asynchronous courses, and the rise of hybrid models. Thankfully, edtech is better prepared than ever to tackle the many ways in which education works today.
This year, there will be more mixing and matching, and educators will have to prepare to keep students engaged, whether physically or virtually. To achieve this, I recommend taking a look a the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines for insights into giving students a purpose to learn using neuroscience. It is a resource that will be indispensable for educators worldwide going forward as they adapt to whatever comes next.
Finally, it is important to mention that, although we have the tools to solve many of the problems, there is still a challenge for educators to use these aids intelligently and creatively. If we fail to do so, they risk becoming crutches that will do more harm than good. So educating teachers and educators is fundamental in harnessing these trends’ power.
Hugo Aguirre is Development and Education Director at TBox, offering school leaders advice, resources, and platforms for pre-K-12 students to develop technological careers through STEAM-based learning. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org