Ironically, the education industry – despite ostensibly working to equip children and young people to face the future better – is probably one of the most conservative and slow to adapt sectors of the economy. Although about 70% of educational institutions believe their digital capabilities severely lag behind the private sector, most important decision-makers aren’t in a hurry to take steps towards much-needed change. They are afraid of failure and thing the old ways of doing things can hold out for a while longer. To overcome these barriers, we need to understand how the education sector can benefit from innovation and how it is already doing so.
1. Augmented and virtual reality
Although AR and VR may sound prohibitively expensive for regular classroom use, products like Google Expeditions are already making it more available and affordable. This tool opens a literally immeasurable range of virtual possibilities: from “visiting” geographical locations that would be hard or impossible to reach physically (like Mount Everest), to being “present” at momentous historical events, to “witnessing” natural disasters without the associated risks. All these things not only make learning hands-on and highly visual but also keeps students engaged and excited about their studies, motivating them to learn.
All students are different, and specialized approaches to learning can bring out the best of their abilities. Personalization increases the efficiency of education and information retention, and lack of personalization can make it nearly impossible to teach some students. For example, students with dyslexia are usually cognitively equal or higher than most of their peers (many highly successful and intelligent people are or were dyslexic, such as Richard Branson and Alexander Graham Bell), but normal learning methods aren’t suited for them. Trying to teach them using textbooks and requiring them to write essays leads to frustration and possible failure. On the other hand, tools like speech-to-text software allow them to use their voices to complete written assignments so their results aren’t dependent on their ability to read and write.
As education increasingly uses digital tech and students gain access to more digital tools for everyday use, issues of cybersecurity will increase. Protecting students from the dangers of cybercrime is just as important as protecting them from bullying, gun violence, and other physical threats. Developments in the spheres of machine learning and AI aim to make digital security easier and stronger.
4. Internet of Things and smart learning environments
Smart learning environments are equipped with digital components that create better, more efficient, and smoother learning process. Ideally, they create a perfect synergy between physical and digital realities, allowing students to absorb information from their environment and creating opportunities for seamless transitions between a variety of learning approaches: individual and group learning, formal and informal settings, in analog and digital formats. IoT can track whether homework was done and collect data about how much time a student needed to complete an assignment. This data can help teachers better understand whether their methods are working, which students need additional help, and which tasks they struggle with the most.
5. Big Data
Big Data may provide the chance to say goodbye to much-maligned standardized testing. Data collected during routine tasks and classwork – processed with the help of AI tools – may offer greater insights into the skills and abilities of individual students compared to any standardized test. This alone could produce a tremendous restructuring of the entire education sector.
It is hard to predict the direction the digital transformation of education will take, but there’s a good chance the entire industry may become nearly unrecognizable in just a few years.
Data is giving governments the tools they need to improve families’ lives in a number of ways. See Data Gives A Helping Hand To The Government And Troubled Families.