EdTech Trends: Part-1

By Aristotle

Blended learning, online learning tools

Ace Schwarz connected his seventh-grade students with people living in a different biome by organizing a video call with Peace Corps Global connections in the Philippines. Students learned about their food, culture, art, music, flora, and fauna and interacted with students. (ref: National Geographic)

I always loved reading National Geographic as a child. Nature as a subject printed in the paper volumes of the National Geographic never seemed to mellow my interest. I would tirelessly leaf through its contents, sometimes looking at pictures, and many a time reading about everything that piqued my interest. I was one of the few fortunate ones who had access to National Geographic those days. As a result, I learned about whale and shark habitation, the rain forests of the Amazon, and myriad other things much before my peers. 

The world has changed since then. Most of the publications that we cherished as children are available online these days. I had not envisaged that there would be a digital world, and NatGeo will be easily accessible. So while I was casually browsing the NATGEO education website today, I found this thought-provoking first few lines about Ace Schwarz and how he incorporated technology to connect people through and beyond national boundaries. He connected with the  Peace Corps Global Connections to see if someone was interested in talking to his students about biomes. And he received a positive response! 

Nick Spalt a marine conservationist serving in the Philippines, agreed to talk about his job and experience living abroad. Students asked questions about the plants and animals that were part of the ecology of the Philippines. They discussed food, culture, music, art, and finally, they had a video call with Nick! Well, does that not sound exciting?!

Globalization of education and the globalization of growing up

One thing that has supported the globalization of education is the inclusion of technology in education. Hundreds of teachers like  Ace Schwarz are including technology and taking learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Experts opine that in meeting the new needs of education, the archetypal brick-and-mortar classrooms are losing their importance, more so as the pandemic persists, and they will not be vital for learning to the extent they are today. Hence investing in technology is going to be preferred over-investing in brick-and-mortar buildings. They do not rule out brick-and-mortar schools completely but are sure that the future is in blended learning, hence schools and universities must develop a comprehensive structure that supports blended education and learning systems.

Blended learning and blended worlds

” The best places for education will bring people, technology, and spaces together in innovative ways. “

The education space has seen an upheaval since 2015, where teachers are using technology and face-to-face teaching together in education. Blended learning will gain more strength with times to come, and it may happen that students will not be required to attend schools daily. A lot of teaching and learning will occur remotely via the online learning medium and tools, and more emphasis will be on learning rather than completing the curriculum.

EdTech Trends: Part-2

Blended Classrooms: blended learning is not an innovation but a natural by-product of using digital tools with onsite teaching or teaching in classrooms. Technology has crept into the four walls of brick-and-mortar classrooms. Blended learning is nothing but a seamless use of online teaching models with face-to-face learning. Blended learning has proven to cut costs, and the students have more control over how they access information that can be more effective. Blended learning has enhanced not only learning but student-teacher engagement also.

The Flipped classroom models are already commonplace. Students access content online outside the classroom and apply the findings by engaging in active learning practices- project works, group work, discussions, and evaluating the conclusions. 

About curriculum and learning

Experts say that structured curriculums will fade away, and so will the definition of structured learning. Learning will become a lifelong process. The curriculum will be open and students will have the freedom to choose the subject between two or multiple academic years. So, for instance, if a student is not keen on taking math in a particular academic year, he will have the freedom to pick it up mid-term or the subsequent year. The curriculum will be a cluster of subjects that will depend upon the student’s interests. The path to taking undergraduate and graduate degrees will transform. The emphasis will be on learning and lifelong permanent learning rather than finishing for the sake of a degree. Experts say that even the workplaces will transform. Managers will be more interested in skillsets than Bachelors’ or Masters’ degrees. Managers will be interested in hiring people who will invest in courses relevant to areas of specialization and work and those who make learning a lifelong and continuous process. Traits like creativity, empathy, resilience, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration will take center stage in academic transcripts.

Thus, there is no reason not to assume that when the make-up of workplaces will change, the K-12 pattern of education will have to change also.

One expert says, “technology will impact teaching not by automating teaching but by improving outcomes.” 

Student data will have an impact on the way success will be defined in the future. The data will be helpful to the teacher to evaluate every individual’s learning process. In this, the teachers will be able to adapt their instructions and personalize the instruction to strengthen the learning phase. At the same time, they can make sure that the student is learning at his own pace.

Automation is not about automating the teaching process but enabling the teacher with data insight, and acting on these insights to make learning more focused, rather than reading out a lesson, setting up examination papers, and evaluating the student.

Parents will prepare their children for their careers, but they will also keep in mind that this will not be the only job of their (child’s) lifetime. They may have 5-10-15 different jobs across many different careers in their lifetimes, and the open system of continuous learning will help them prepare for multiple jobs. 

Many educators ideally want a collaboration between subject disciplines and project-based learning. They feel that because of technology, there will be greater convergence between learning and assessment analytics. The assessments will become less formal and learning more flexible. The curriculum delivery will happen through digital technology, hence developing technology for virtual learning environments, building management systems, monitoring attendance, and taking assessments will become imperative.

EdTech Trends

Because of technology, the role of teachers has shifted to being facilitators and guides. The traditional role of the teacher is evolving, and lecture-based teaching is considered an obsolete approach now. With technology as a part of education, teaching is becoming more personalized. Traditional classrooms will have to change to meet the requirements of high school and college education and prepare students with 21st-century skills. 

School boards and schools across the country are working towards bringing changes in the present system with a focus on the future of learning, exploring instructional models that will prepare students for high school and college education.

With enormous data available on the internet, teaching is no longer about reading out lessons in the classroom and planning homework and assessments. Technology has already taken over teaching and assessments at the high school level with challenge-based learning, competency-based education, gamification, virtual and augmented reality. 

Technology may not be an essential part of education, but it is definitely essential for scaling up learning, and also because education is directly related to a global reduction in poverty, child labor, EdTech is essential if we need to reach out to the remotest part of the world to impart education.

21st-century learning leans towards personalized learning. Personalized instructions and learning will further strengthen and pave the path for the student’s personal and professional success in the future.

Skeptics feel the digitization of education will lead to the isolation of children, but that is not true. Digitalization of education will only broaden the educational spectrum, bringing the children of the world together for the singular purpose of learning through interaction. The digital apps will expand the social horizon also by recreating classroom experiences by virtually involving groups from different countries, different cultural backgrounds for interactive project collaborations.

The future of education –  in 2049

Experts say that schools in 2049 will not be a place, but a platform.

This platform will be to support learning. Students will enroll for learning in institutions like Harvard, MIT, et al but they will be learners for life with single or multiple institutions. The institution will have to permit and promise that they let the students be learners for life and learn whatever piques their interest and professional requirements.