Year 2010. Edtech was barely making a buzz. I was consulting on building learning apps with one of USA’s largest education giants and publishing conglomerate. The management had just realized that just publishing great books will not keep them competitive. They need to repackage content for a digital first generation. And while they still did not think paperbacks will go away, the publishing giant wanted to be prepared; despite several contradictory voices from within the company which discouraged falling to fads.
10 years down the line, I am sure the visionary execs at the publishing giant, who gave a go-ahead to a project for appifying books, may be feeling redeemed. Because technology in education or edtech has moved from being a ‘fad’ to taking centre-stage in learning. The forward-thinking educators, publishers, institutes have been building technology infrastructure to repurpose learning for a digital world. And for the ones that lagged in the tech adoption curve, COVID proved to be the ultimate black swan event spelling out the ‘tech or die’ message to the education industry.
Here are 9 tech trends that will be driving innovation in learning in the next nine years of this decade:
Syndication – As content explodes meaningful syndication and curation will become imperative. We will see equivalent of vertical news reading apps focused on education. Learning will be primarily consumed on the go on mobile devices and syndication apps will focus on surfacing personalized learning bytes tailored to your needs. With a proliferation of e-learning market places and service providers, hyper learning marts integrating learning inventory and vertical search engines focused on learning will soon emerge.
AI and Hyper-personalisation – AI and Data Science will be the anchor tech driving edtech. These techniques will deliver adaptive learning paths, personalized skill-based learning and help learners sift through a huge gamut of content to find the useful bits. AI will also be used in delivering auto-generated videos, script extraction from media, auto-translation and other services helping re-purpose content for the fast-paced digital world.
AR apps – All the world’s your book – Want to learn something new? Just wear your google glasses and go out in the world? The interactive AR will bring historical buildings, road-signs, milestones alive with little snippets of information. AR will drive the next wave of immersive, experiential learning. The value of AR in edtech is predicted to surpass $5.3 billion by 2023. (Source eastern peak)
Simulated class rooms – The pandemic has locked students out of the class rooms and the long drawn out period may cause some permanent shifts in learning habits. If students cannot go to the class-rooms, the class rooms will go to them. And much like VR technologies brought the sports field to you (Think of the WII gaming consoles), they will also now be simulating your class rooms. IIT Bombay recently held their annual convocation virtually with 3D student and teacher avatars. Video classes are also getting augmented with more features including Q&A sessions, black boards, discussion forums, teacher-student interactions. While nothing can really replace the school campus, technology is trying very hard to make up for times when learning on campus is a health hazard or economically unviable.
Gamification – Gamification in learning has been around for sometime now. But in a post pandemic, hyper digital world gamification takes centre-stage. As students are exposed to an overload of information and learns in-silo outside of traditional class rooms, gamification will help keep them motivated and aligned to learning paths. Learning will incorporate many of the features you see in games: byte sized learnings, graded challenges to make it to the next level, rewards and points linked to outcomes, peer learning (much like multi-player gaming) and contests. Gamification has increasingly been used in professional learning too as shown by pioneers such as Salesforce. The gamification in education market is projected to grow from USD 450 million in 2018 to USD 1,800 million by 2023, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 32.0% from 2018 to 2023 (Source: marketsandmarkets.com).
Learning buddy bots – The tech with immense possibility but still relatively under-tapped in edtech is chatbot. Chatbots in education can solve multi-dimensional problems – act as learning buddies answering common questions (Think of a SIRI for learning). They can also be deployed in admission processes or student support guiding students through common procedures or problems. Chatbots are portable as they can sit within messengers such as Facebook Messenger, Skype helping institutes reach wider audience. Some popular examples of chatbots in education include Botsify, CourseQ, SnatchBot which provides a variety of functionalities including teacher-student communication, acting as teaching assistants and providing course guidance to students. At Spotle, we have been beta testing a career bot which provides contextual career and upskilling advice to learners. There are potentially an infinite use cases that chatbots can be deployed on to make learning and careers more interactive.
Cloud campuses – In a world of Airbnbs, digital banks and cloud kitchens, will cloud campuses be far behind? 2020 has shown a world with empty campuses and online class rooms and the future of learning may not be starkly different. Not just tech first companies, we will see traditional campuses too spinning off digital offshoots. Distance learning is not altogether a new concept but digitization will see it spin off into a more glamorous, cloud avatar, with massive public or private learning clouds substituting or augmenting sprawling campuses. And Gen A may just be comfortable studying at these cloud campuses with options for the occasional class picnics, prom nights and bonding sessions.
Tech-Led private labelling of education – Technology has put the power right in the hand of the teacher, the creator, the owner of the knowledge. With tools such as Zoom, Canva, self-publishing softwares a teacher is no longer reliant on an intermediary like a publisher or a school to get her knowledge across to students. While there will be concerns about quality control, public rating and review will weed out inferiority, letting genuine teachers and strong content thrive. Imagine a world with a thousand Sal Khans imparting quality education at no or atleast lower costs than what traditional campuses have charged.
IOT to build digitally wired class-rooms – IOT will play a key role in universalizing education and creating connected experiences for students. Imagine a remote class-room with an IOT enabled black-board. A remote teacher can virtually demonstrate concepts on the remote connected dashboard, bringing concepts alive for the class. Seattle based education IOT startup Promethean builds interactive ActivWalls for schools equipped with natural language writing, dry erase and multi-media display. Devices such as Alexa can double up as study buddies by providing contextual answers to a child’s questions. IoT in Education Market was valued at USD 4.51 Billion in 2018 and we have just about scratched the surface of the mammoth opportunity (Source: towardsdatascience.com).