EdTech Trends: Part-2

By Aristotle

The future- 2049

Experts say, “Schools in 2049 will not be a place, but a platform. The best places for education will bring people, technology, and spaces together in innovative ways. Technology will impact teaching not by automating but by improving outcomes.”

These lines sound almost like a gospel. We know education will be a different reality by 2049, the way technology is taking over all spheres of our lives.

I will share a few EdTech trends concerning K-12 education that have been popular since 2015 but have gained momentum now. Let us see what professionals have to say about the future of EdTech and its impact on humanity.

Rimes Mortimer, general manager of applied innovation at Microsoft, says, “The most successful companies will not only have access to market, customer, and operational data. These companies will also derive unique, actionable insights from data to help them serve customers in a better way and improve business operations to transcend current business models.”

As leaders accelerate the digital transformation of their organizations, they are working on the role of information technology (IT) at the same time, and are fostering a new set of skills and behaviors.

“Information technology as we used to know it is dead,” says Luis Palacios, technology director at Cisco Spain. “It’s all about people, helping people transform, use and consume technologies naturally and transparently.”

Palacious adds further, “Information technology teams will need communicators, collaborators, and creators. Companies will need to have experts of emotional intelligence to empathize and respond to a customer. The zeal to attract and keep this top-grade talent is greater than ever as competition in the digital realm grows exponentially.”

Thus, it becomes imperative to bring changes to the pattern of education today to meet the needs of future workplaces. 

K-12 education and EdTech trends

When a Stanford University professor offered a free online course in artificial intelligence in 2011, he had little idea that the experiment would attract 160000 students from 190 countries. This is just one of the many examples of how technology is shaping 21st-century education around the world. Technology is already helping students in acquiring skills and competencies to give a boost to their career. With the rapid proliferation of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, technology is creating new challenges and many new opportunities for educational institutions of all types, from early education to universities.

 21st-century education leans towards personalized instructions. Personalized instructions will further strengthen and pave the path for students’ personal and professional success. Students will be learners for life, and the focus from acquiring a college degree will shift to skill-based learning. Students will enroll to be proficient at a cluster of skill sets that will help them build a career around their core competencies and their fundamental interests. 

Little doubt then that K-12 education will also have to change to meet future education needs. As one of the teachers says, “more and more classrooms will be places where knowledge will be created rather than consumed by students.” She adds further, “Much of the information that only teachers possessed in the past is now available to students online, challenging the old model of teachers presenting content and students absorbing it.”

Schools will stop spoon-feeding information. Technology will help children utilize their time to focus on problem-solving, communication, and collaboration—exactly the type of higher-order skills that leading education specialists say should be the goals of education for today’s world.

 I will share some of the technology trends that are being talked about and worked upon.

EdTech Trends: Part-2

Competency-Based Education (CBE): This model focuses on the student and developing core competencies.

  • In contrast with the traditional model, CBE allows a systematic approach to knowledge and the development of skills by employing specific functions and tasks (Argudín, 2015). This model is based on demonstrating mastery of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values which require a specific competence.
  • Competency-based education is not established on the credit hour-based system for obtaining degrees or certifications. It is, in fact, a holistic approach to education, which says that education is a result of different life experiences. 
  • CBE focuses on the needs of society and the working world. It is flexible and accessible at any given point in time.
  • The CBE model allows the individual to recognize, manage, and continuously build their competencies. It also allows students to improve their performance, interpret situations and resolve problems in innovative ways.
  • In competency-based education, the emphasis is on instruction, collaboration, and communication. Working diligently to make learning more inclusive, the leadership works towards bringing educators, students, families, and communities together to change the school structure, culture, and pedagogy. 

States are piloting competency-based education programs, offering an education model tailored to each student by shifting the focus from time-based credits to academic mastery. For personalized education, states can consider reforming traditional seat-time requirements and developing a competency-based education (CBE). The conventional system, which awards academic credit based on a minimum amount of instructional time in a subject area, emphasizes time rather than mastery, which stands in fundamental opposition to personalized instruction at its core.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, CBE is “a structure that allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning.”

How does CBE work?

Competency-based learning is based on individual needs. According to the Aurora Institute, assessments in CBE are, “meaningful, positive, and empowering.” How is this achieved?

Assessments serve as ongoing indicators of learningformative assessments, and students are only formally assessed when formative practice indicates a student is ready. While traditional multiple-choice tests are an option for formal assessment, the flexibility exists in a competency system to administer performance-based tasks, simulations, and other unconventional approaches to assessment. The core element of CBE is student learning at a varied pace.

Education at varied pacing creates the flexibility for students to learn in ways that work for them. For example, students who seek an alternative to in-person schooling have the option to engage through online classes. Competency-based education such as blended learning, and project-based learning utilizes technology and student collaboration to create a classroom environment that is student-centered, engaging, and conducive to schooling. (ref: NSBA)

Challenge-Based Learning (CBL): This pedagogical approach actively engages students in a situation that is real, relevant, and related to their environment. CBL involves defining a challenge based on its environment and implementing solutions. CBL is a larger spectrum of experiential learning. Experiential learning offers students opportunities to use what they have learned in real situations. They face problems, try solutions, and interact with other students within a specific context (Moore, 2017).

Experiential Learning combines experience, cognition, and behavior (Akella, 2018).

Relationship with Apple’s challenge-based learning- the term challenge-based learning is attributed to Apple and its methodological contributions to education. This approach became famous for its active student engagement with peers, teachers, and experts across different countries. “The purpose of this initiative is to encourage a deeper understanding of contents, identify and solve challenges in their respective communities as well as share results with the world.” (Johnson, Smith, Smythe and Varon, 2009). 

CBL involves:

  • Structured learning activities that encourage students to take action and take responsibility for the results
  • Activities of reflection, critical thinking, critical analysis, and synthesis
  • Active participation of students when formulating questions and problems and involves lots of creative thinking throughout the learning experience
  • Complete involvement of the students- intellectually, creatively, emotionally, physically, and socially 
  • Failure, uncertainty, taking risks as a part of the learning process
  • Spontaneous learning opportunities
  • Formulation of the problem, setting limits, facilitate the learning process by the teachers as guides and mentors
  • Personalized learning outcomes for the future learning process
  • Personalized relationship with himself and the world
  • Developing competencies like collaboration, decision making, advanced communication skills, ethics, and leadership

Challenge-Based Learning is a pedagogical approach that is considered very important for STEM. It demands a real-world perspective because it trains students for real-life situations.

Gamification

Traditionally, games have been considered a form of entertainment or a hobby. However, they have now also become a growing trend in informal settings, such as industry or education. “Games are engaging, addictive, and motivational. Moreover, they can be used as a powerful tool to shape behavior.” (Teng and Baker, 2014).

“Apart from their notable power of motivation, games lure students to participate in them, very often without any reward, but just for the pleasure of playing and enjoying an engaging experience.” (Kapp, 2012).

  “The use of games or game elements has gained the power to transform learning environments. In this way, learning and feedback combined with play transform schools into far more exciting environments.” (Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, and Angelova, 2015).

Gamification is different from a game

As described, Gamification in education incorporates game design elements in an educational context. It means that it is not about using games, but taking some of their principles and mechanics, such as points or incentives, narrative, immediate feedback, recognition, the freedom to make mistakes, etc., to enrich learning.”(Deterding et al., 2011; Kim, 2015). 

 Gamification functions as a motivational didactic strategy in the teaching-learning process, fomenting specific behaviors in students within an appealing environment that generates commitment to the activity in which they are participating and helps to produce positive experiences and, therefore, achieve meaningful lessons. 

Serious games

“Serious Games are technological games designed for a purpose other than pure entertainment. In other words, they are designed for educational and informative purposes, such as simulators or games that create awareness.” (Dicheva et al., 2015). 

These games position players or learners within a particular context to develop a specific knowledge or skill. 

Game-Based Learning

“Game-based learning is the use of games as means of instruction. It consists of learning through games in an educational context designed by teachers. In general, the games already exist, with established mechanics, and are adapted to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world.” (EdTechReview, 2013). 

Depending on the game elements used, gamification includes:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Storyline
  • Freedom to choose
  • Rules
  • Freedom to make mistakes
  • Feedback
  • Cooperation and competition
  • Progress 
  • Rewards
  • Time restriction 

The players are also of various types:

  • Explorers
  • Thinkers
  • Achievers 
  • Socializers 
  • Philanthropists
  • Disruptive 

 Impact of gamification-

  • Highly interactive 
  • Greater engagement
  • Motivation to learn 
  • Skill development
  • Instant feedback
  • Overcome fears

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence

Immersive learning: The 7th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN 2021) will be an innovative and interactive virtual gathering for a strengthening global network of researchers and practitioners collaborating to develop the scientific, technical, and applied potential of immersive learning. It is the premier scholarly event focusing on advances in the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and other extended reality (XR) technologies to support learners across the full span of learning—from K-12 through higher education to work-based, informal, and lifelong learning contexts. (ref:https://ieee-edusociety.org)

The future of education is immersive. There is little doubt that immersive learning will profoundly reshape education, and consequently the human learning experience. While many teachers have already seen the benefits of using VR and AR in a traditional classroom, they have realized its potential to improve knowledge retention and experiential learning, during online instruction. Instead of assigning reading on the roman empire, teachers can virtually transport students to Rome and learn more about its history and architecture. The 360-degree videos provide students the opportunity to explore the historical sites from different perspectives, making the students feel as if they were there. Educators are looking at VR and AR to make STEM lessons more stimulating. It is important to mention that there are diverse immersive technologies that offer different ways of combining the digital world with reality at several levels of immersion. For schools and educators, the path to creating an authentic learning experience is in reshaping the traditional methods of instructor-led classrooms and letting students lead the way. As we continue to make advances in STEM, and medical simulations that increase productivity, efficiency, and independence in learning, immersive technologies are compelling us to re-imagine learning 

New Pedagogies

  • Mendel Grammar School in Opava City, Czech Republic is teaching students about the anatomy of the eye in biology classes with the Oculus Rift
  • St. John’s School Boston, Massachusetts is using Minecraft and VR to create immersive experiences
  • Penn State University in Pennsylvania is training students to do things in the virtual world as a precursor to doing it in the real world, increasing the efficacy of learning
  • The University of British Columbia in Vancouver is experimenting with virtual lecture halls

Increased levels of Attention, and engagement, enhancing memory, accelerating the learning pace, practical experience of theory, personalized learning, are some of the benefits found by engaging VR and AR in classroom learning.

The 21st-century technologies should be incorporated as instruments to improve the teaching-learning process since on the one hand students today have easy access to learning material, are more agile, and are surrounded by technology most of the time. Hence the teacher must have the capacity to capture their attention and engage them actively in their learning. In a world that is already a combination of the virtual and the real, it becomes important to address the optimized use of technology in a student’s learning process. The teachers in turn have to become more tech-savvy to address the demands of the new generation.