EdTech in 2021: Three Key Trends Shaping the Use of Technology in Education this Year

Innovation
By: 
Hugo Aguirre

The combination of education and technology is a hot topic in 2021. Virtual classrooms and e-learning have become the new norm, and new technologies start to determine early education. 

The discussion about trends in educational technology has never been more lively, and it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. It’s worth asking: what's driving today's education and technology integration in schools? 

Let’s check which EdTech trends are evolving right now in the industry and how they will dictate the future of the entire sector.

 

Technological optimism in the teaching profession

The first trend occurs on the institutional level: More and more schools are looking to integrate technology into the curriculum. Worldwide, teachers and schools have been seeing the positive sides of integrating technology. As a result, they have started demanding new, technology-based methodologies to overcome the challenges of traditional education. This curiosity is stronger and louder than ever before.

At the same time, EdTech tools such as Google Classroom allow teachers to train themselves in technology-based teaching more quickly. Former three-day teacher conferences now happen periodically in many schools via distance discussions and practical peer review sessions. In those meetings, educators share their knowledge, tools, and ideas on matching technology with their curricula.

It is a good sign that technology is penetrating further into the professional development of educators. Teachers understand that students’ development depends on their own development and are finally keen to attend workshops and conferences that address technology-based learning.

The rising interest in technology-based education is also reflected among students. As the McGraw-Hill Education study points out, 53% of U.S. college students prefer classes that use and teach digital technology over traditional textbook lessons.

 

Virtual reality facilitates learning in schools

The second trend is how augmented reality and virtual robots change teaching and learning. One of the most exciting developments is the vast potential that simulations and virtual robotics offer to school education.

For some time, augmented reality and virtual simulations have been on everyone’s mind. However, only recently have we started recognizing the immense possibilities that virtual reality (VR) carries to improve learning experiences. Today, preschool children can explore insects in actual size and authenticity via the Google search engine.  

Computer simulations, such as VR, can bring distant or abstract experiences into the classroom and make them technically accessible every day. And with simulations, students can examine “what-if” situations and learn how to test hypotheses and develop scientific rigor early on. In this way, students strengthen their practical skills and logical reasoning and develop their creativity. Some application examples are phenomena like the functioning of the solar system, explosive reactions between chemical substances, or progressions on how CO2 emissions will affect the ecosystem by 2050.

Even if it’s not as obvious, simulations are valuable for linguistics, history, architecture, and other educational fields. Let’s take drones as an example. Students can program a drone and use the simulation to explore the features of bridges and monuments worldwide by doing expeditions with drones.

 

Artificial intelligence drives personalized learning

You cannot miss the immense opportunities artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have brought to the EdTech sector. The principles of AI and IoT and their integration into students’ learning experiences continue to proliferate in school and at home. Tools such as voice assistants and AI tutors help diversify and personalize learning experiences and boost self-regulated learning.

Software like Duolingo teaches children new languages based on what they’ve learned before and what they still find challenging. Such software also integrates voice recognition and responds in real-time, allowing users to simulate a real-world language learning experience.

Moreover, AI-driven learning platforms collect student data and analyze where a student might need help, send a study reminder, or gather additional material on specific topics for the individual student. On those platforms, teachers can regularly review students’ learning data and take the proactive recommendations provided by AI into account.

The personalized learning experiences that AI creates are crucial to improve students’ motivation and learning success. The goal is to support students in the same personal learning stage and give teachers accurate information on the student’s progress in specific areas. Personalized training makes sure that not a single one is left behind or slowed down because of underwhelming materials.

 

The year 2021 as a window of opportunity

Not only did AI and simulations open up new learning opportunities, but 2021 also brought sweeping changes at the grassroots level of technology and education. Schools, parents, and teachers have now understood the importance of technology for successful personal development.

We are in the ideal moment to continue transforming teaching and learning through technology. Now, it is only a matter of creatively using the essential tools and integrating new devices–and marking a bright educational future for everyone.

 

About the author

Hugo Aguirre is the Development and Education Director of TBox.

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