Almost everybody’s heard of new technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI). Even if you don’t use them daily, you can probably see a future where they’re used to great effect.
But did you know that institutions in the educational sector are already looking to adopt these tools as part of the curriculum? That’s right. The same tools that would be considered material for a science fiction film series are now being used in classrooms to bring higher quality education and convenience to students around the world.
If you think about it, it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of virtual classrooms, online learning, and digital education seemed like a distant dream either.
But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s just how resilient and quickly these trends can change. How fast we can go from traditional learning to fully integrated, digital-ready environments.
Technology is playing a large role in how we’re approaching education. The pandemic and the sudden need for remote classrooms has already taught us new lessons about the importance of keeping up with these new developments, and there are far more lessons to learn in the future too.
Let’s talk about the new trends in K-12 education technology in the coming year, how they impact the way we teach students, and the real numbers behind these trends.
COVID-19 Has Jump Started the Revolution
While no one will tell you that COVID-19 conditions were ideal for education, it’s no secret that our ability to use technology for teaching underwent its true test during lockdowns. One 2020 study reveals some interesting insights:
- 81% of teachers in the United States reported that their experience with educational technology went up as a result of the pandemic
- 58% said they had more confidence in the new tools as a result
- 93% conducted some form of online teaching from home by the summer of 2020
Digital Tools Will Encompass All Areas of Education
Educational technology will go beyond just showing YouTube videos in class. It will penetrate into all levels of learning in the near future as entire platforms and lessons will integrate with digital tools in the future. And remote learning will see a rise as well so that students can use a virtual environment when they aren’t physically in school.
Think about the tools students today already use. Two of the most prominent are e-textbooks, which 2/3rds of surveyed college students use as of 2016, and laptops, used by 71% of students. The United States actually has the highest usage rate of laptops in classrooms.
Teachers are also jumping on the bandwagon. 65% report using digital learning every day according to a survey by the Newschools Venture Fund.
Learning Will Be More Accessible Than Ever
eBooks are the key to a more accessible and convenient classroom. A single tablet weighs far less and takes up far less space than a stack of books, as any avid digital reader can attest to.
Electronic textbooks, in addition to being available on mobile devices like tablets and laptops, can contain interactive modules, animations, and other features traditional textbooks cannot have.
This elevated interactivity drives better knowledge retention in learners. One case study by Lynn University in Florida reported that 78% of students found iPad books more effective than paper ones, and the school itself noted a 13% increase in results compared to 2013.
Another major factor is cost. The University of Central Florida has explored the sale of digital materials, and 74% of students cited the lower cost as one of the reasons they chose e-textbooks.
Technology Will Enable More Personalized Learning Experiences. Streamlining Workflows and Processes
Personalized learning allows students to take charge of their own education and can help teachers appeal to student needs specifically instead of forcing a “one size fits all” solution.
Technology will be the catalyst for more personalized education in the future. 35% of educators already agree that online learning allows for more personalized instruction, especially when it comes to catering to individual skill levels. A similar number also say that such tools are easy to use and engaging to students.
Interactivity Will Be a Major Selling Point
A lot of K-12 technology aims to increase interactivity in the classroom, making learning a more visual and active experience. Some of the tools already in use as early as 2016 included:
- Online videos
- Apps and software
- Research websites
- Educational games
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
Virtual reality was largely seen as a novelty until relatively recently when technology finally caught up. VR investments have gone up as well, predicted to reach $700 million for the educational sector by 2025.
And it’s clear that the enthusiasm is there. 70% of teachers want to start using VR to simulate learning experiences during class, and an overwhelming 97% of students show interest in a VR-focused course.
Let’s not forget about augmented reality either. AR technology aims to supplement real life with digital visuals and sound, whereas VR gives you an alternate view of reality. Investment in AR for education may reach over $5.3 billion by 2023 according to one research report.
K-12 Administrators Are On Board
Tools will only be used when school administrators agree that they add value to the learning experience, and it’s clear that many school districts are accepting them with open arms.
A large proportion (85% to be exact) of teachers and 71% of principals think that there’s great value in digital tools both today and in the future. A majority of teachers also give each student a computer since it contributes to a more productive learning environment.
Support for digital learning trickles down; when the management buys in, everyone else will follow.
The Results Are Real
You don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. The numbers show the results of what school districts expect when they adopt these online digital tools.
- Students in the United States who use an electronic device for over an hour a week regularly achieve better academic scores.
- Over 4/5ths of college students attribute their higher grades to digital learning.
- One study showed that gamification in e-learning greatly increased results by 89.45%.
“Gamification” refers to the use of video game-like features (high scores, competition with other students, achievements, etc.) to increase engagement in the classroom.
And So Is the Investment
School districts, businesses, and other organizations already see the potential in digital learning and have invested significantly in its development.
The global market share value for self-paced online learning will reach $46.67 billion by 2016. That number will likely rise to $243 billion by 2022. Other sources have claimed that the worldwide education technology market could reach $404 billion by 2025.
… But There Will Still Be Hurdles To Overcome
Like all new developments, the digitization of education has seen some challenges to overcome, but the overall advantages make the change worth it.
UK schools specifically have concerns over online safety according to a 2021 study. Nonetheless, the teachers still believe that technology will play a large role in education in the future, especially when acting as a complement rather than a replacement for traditional instruction.
Another potential challenge is the availability of Internet access to students. Some children currently might not have Internet access at home, which could limit the usability of some online platforms. However, the majority of instructors are aware of this limitation and can still plan around it.
Finally, a small percentage of US teachers are worried about electronic devices posing a distraction in the classroom, though many of them still believe that even smartphones can be useful during assignments when their use is properly controlled.
The Future of Education Is a Connected Experience
What these trends and statistics show is that education and technology are coming together much more quickly than anticipated, with the pandemic only accelerating the process. School districts should look to expand their use of digital tools to avoid being left behind.
Students and teachers alike are excited to engage with these more interactive educational experiences. Technology helps make the classroom more interactive and personalized.
Are you looking to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to modernizing your school district? Get in touch with one of our education specialists today to see how the Edsembli Ecosystem can transform your capabilities, from the front-facing student experience to administrative processes.