In 2020, many schools and universities started to rely heavily on SaaS platforms like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspaces to help elevate education services and functions in the wake of a global pandemic.
Once these core technology infrastructure changes became commonplace, schools and universities realized there is no going back to the ‘old school’ methods of analog education. In fact, the innovation spurred an awakening, that has us looking out for even more transformation in the years to come.
Top IT Trends for the Education Sector
1. Blockchain Technology
In 2021, expect to see a rise in blockchain technology use in the education secot. At it’s core, blockchain is a system of recording information -- it is a digital ledger of transactions that is shared across an entire network of computer systems part of the blockchain.
Because of how blockchains are configured, they are particularly difficult to hack into or compromise. This makes blockchain a great method for public and private schools to secure large amounts of information across a large number of computers. Additionally, having a decentralized and transparent method of transaction data can make data governance much more manageable.
2. Artificial Intelligence
AI is an incredibly helpful tool for education professionals and students, because when used effectively, it can make basic activities, like grading and answering questions automated.
Automation can help teachers and staff save time on tasks and reallocate their time and energy to more important needs. AI can also improve the overall learning experiences for students, through the use of AI tutors and AI-driven programs.
AI can also be used to analyze data from its functions. For example, if AI grades an exam and notices all students answered certain topics incorrectly, a teacher can utilize that information and provide more education on the topic area--improving the overall quality of education and use of resources.
Thanks to improved data analytics, schools and universities can personalize the learning experience for each student. We’ll start to see more schools tailor how they deliver courses and learning materials based on what works best for each student. This means education will be customized to the learner’s preferences and needs, in order to find a better format of education. Personalization will take into account items like:
- Leaner performance
- Time per course
- Test results
Using data to personalize education will not only improve learner experience but generate better performance data for schools.
Finding the optimal method for learning is a high priority for the education industry. As a result, we’ve seen gamification become a more commonly used tool.
Gamification, which creates a game-like interactive module, is an engaging and fun way for students to learn and understand a topic. Video games and virtual interaction is more popular than ever among young individuals, so using gamification for K-12 can be quite successful.
With schools continuing to offer remote learning, having an engaging online curriculum is key. Additionally, using gamification documents the success or gaps in learning based on how students perform in these interactive activities.
5. Learning Analytics
Learning analytics help educators understand student progress and performance, which helps optimize the method of learning.
With learning analytics, educators can get a deeper understanding of a student's knowledge and skills, or any gaps in the two. Teachers can see insights like which information wasn’t effectively delivered, or what type of digital module (images, videos, text) are most popular to students. With learning analytics, educators can granularly pinpoint successes and failures, which allow them to improve or address needs.
6. Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality is another trend we’ll see more schools and universities take advantage of. VR/AR offers a new, more engaging, and nuanced method of education. Students can be immersed in an augmented reality that can give them a better sense of experience and learning than before. For example, medical students can experience a simulation of what it may be like to work in an operating room or perform surgery.
VR/AR can help with knowledge retention and give educators an additional method of learning, especially for more complicated and complex concepts. In short, it would give learners insight and experience that would otherwise not be possible, which makes VR/AR a highly sought-after tool.
7. Video-Assisted Learning
Similar to gamification and VR, video-assisted learning is focused on providing a more engaging and simulated method of education. Video, as opposed to text-heavy lectures and powerpoints, can be far more engaging to students. As a result, students may understand and internalize information better. Having a visual component of learning can also help educators keep track of what videos students have watched or completed as part of a lesson, or add short quizzes after video lessons.
8. Data Management and Collaborative Teaching
Many schools and programs continue to move online, meaning we’ll see an increase in cloud-based tools and data management.
SaaS applications like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspaces can better connect educators and learners online, whether it’s through communications, submitting course work, or accessing lectures. While cloud-based tools are incredibly convenient in bridging the gap between online and offline, they also pose a data security risk. If you plan on utilizing applications like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspaces in an academic setting, it’s key to back up your data. Be sure you have a backup plan and system in place.
You may already see chatbots when surfing the web, but in 2021 chatbots will become more prevalent in digital and online learning.
To better tend to the needs of students, schools are turning to chatbots, which are available 24/7, to support students and parents at any time, from anywhere. This level of accessibility can improve the support online students might need while giving educators the capacity to better allocate their time.
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