The boom in technological advances over the past decades, imperatives on social distancing, and an increasing reliance on virtual mediums are just some of the reasons why education technology remains one of the fastest-growing fields in today’s market.

What is Education Technology, and Why is it Important?

Education technology, or EdTech, is the development and management of technology in an effort to aid in better delivery and assimilation of information.

However, the goals and advantages of education technology don’t end there.

Professionals in nearly every field are seeing more and more new technologies introduced into their daily work routines. While these technological advancements are meant to increase productivity and effectiveness, today’s workforce is often ill-equipped or slow to adapt to these new tools and new methodologies that accompany them. 

It’s true: older members of the workforce, in particular, struggle to assimilate and adapt to a work environment that, in many ways, barely resembles the one they first entered. This is due, simply, to the fact that unlike younger workers they were not brought up in an environment where they were constantly interacting with and adapting to new technologies.

It is, therefore, one of the goals of education technology to encourage this assimilation. From early childhood, into and through adulthood, education technology aims to help people adapt and become accustomed to new ways of assimilating information and processes.

Then, as we look at trends affecting the field of education technology to see which ones are fly-by-night and which ones have staying power, we need to take into consideration the following criteria:

  • Does it aid in the delivery of information?
  • Does it encourage the assimilation of information and/or processes?
  • Is it, or will it soon be, accessible, both financially and with respect to a common technological infrastructure?
  • Regardless of how enduring the technology is, does it stimulate our capacity to adapt?

With a clearer understanding of what education technology is and what its goals and benefits are, here are 4 trends we should be keeping an eye on:

Gamification

Gamification, or game-based curricula, aims to deliver information in a more fun, task-based, and reward-driven way.

Gamification presents the assimilation of information as something akin to a game. And it has been shown to yield positive results

The strength of the method lies in its easy-to-track reward incentives. When a learner completes a task or demonstrates that he or she has assimilated the information, they have completed a level or have gained points. This is their reward. It is given immediately. 

All gamification programs operate on the principle of positive reinforcement. And they seek to challenge the learner with incrementally increasing degrees of difficulty. Confront the learner with new challenges then validate and reward the skills they acquire. The effectiveness of a particular gamification program depends on this balance.

Some examples include:

Corsica

An app developed on Salesforce (one of the most popular CRMs on the market) designed to help a salesforce manage and achieve their sales goals.

Duolingo

Software developed to help learners assimilate foreign languages, Duolingo was initially created for individual learners but has since been developed for and successfully integrated into the classroom.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, also known as VR or virtual simulation, aims to immerse the learner into a practical representation of a real-life environment where he or she can experiment and perfect their skills and their understanding.

Though virtual reality, due to its costliness, is one of the slowest growing applications of education technology, it is also the sector with the largest growth potential. 

Currently, the headset technology which allows the learner to be fully immersed in a particular environment remains accessible to only a relatively small number of people. But that number continues to grow at an exponential rate.

Over the past five years, Google Expedition has offered millions of learners around the world an immersive VR experience. From the comforts of a classroom setting, they take learners to otherwise inaccessible places, from tours of faraway museums to expeditions of dangerous terrains such as mountain tops, the deep sea, and even outer space.

VR can also be used for language learning, as proposed by Unimersiv.

Their app creates virtual rooms for people from different countries to come together and interact with one another and the virtual space they inhabit.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, also known as AI, is most widely used in education as an assessment tool. Used in conjunction with other tools, AI allows for a more personalized or tailor-made learning experience.

As AI is permeating the workplace, it is of the utmost importance that students, beginning at a young age, start integrating with this technology. And while we are still in the infant stages of this technology, that has not stopped teachers and developers alike from exploiting the possibilities that already exist.

  • Reading large amounts of data and then preparing a synthesis
  • Translating lessons in real-time to allow access to learners and teachers who don’t speak a common language
  • Granting learners with disabilities, such as hearing or visual impairments, access to the information being delivered
  • Providing customized testing and feedback 
  • Helping educators with their administrative tasks

Collaborative Technology

As the name suggests, collaborative technology (sometimes referred to as groupware) is any tool, system, or platform that facilitates interaction between people: individuals or groups.

The Covid 19 pandemic has shown us the importance and the benefits of collaborative technology both in the workplace and in schools. Developers have seized the opportunity that has come with this sharp increase in need, and we are seeing an unprecedented boom in this sector.

Collaborative software can be subdivided into the three Cs:

 

  • Communication Technology

 

Any software that facilitates text chats, messaging, or file sharing

 

  • Conferencing Technology

 

Any software or virtual space that allows two or more people to talk to one another in real-time while viewing a unified screen

 

  • Coordination Technology

 

Any software or platform designed to organize workflow between two or more people

Collaborative technology can work either in real-time (synchronous) or non-real-time (asynchronous).  

For teachers, today’s collaborative technology enables them to more easily reach their students. And they can interact with a greater number of learners as well.

For students, many find that collaborating through the filter of a virtual interface can help them to overcome shyness or social awkwardness. 

These forms of anxiety can present a tremendous obstacle to effective interaction, especially among young learners, and turn the learning process into a traumatic one for them. Collaborative technology doesn’t completely eradicate this obstacle, but in many cases, it does seem to alleviate its negative effects.

Takeaway

The above-mentioned tools are more often than not used in conjunction with one another. 

For example, a virtual reality tour of an archaeological site is led by an AI guide. The information extracted from the expedition is then verified and reinforced through a game. And learners share their experiences on a collaborative virtual platform.  

The advancements and applications are limited only to our imagination. And even those limits are being surpassed on a continual basis.

More so than ever before, it’s a great time to be living in the future.