While recent trends of big data crunched with the latest machine learning, we think that’s so 2019. What we’re seeing emerge in 2020 is a humanistic approach to applying the latest technology with a strong focus on connectivity, versatility, and student-centered learning. Leveraging the latest technology presents educators and learners around the world with amazing new opportunities; and when a new technology is applied according to proven educational practices, students of all ages and abilities are set up for future success. Read on to take a look into eight trends in EdTech to watch this coming year:
Update: Distance Learning
Originally, distance learning didn’t make the cut for the projected 2020 EdTech trends because, to be blunt, the world was a different place at the end of 2019. However, with the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the resulting school closures, distance education became THE top 2020 EdTech trend overnight. As over a billion students around the world stay home, everyone knows at least one person that has needed to implement some kind of remote learning. It is a global leap forward in response to extraordinary circumstances.
With the uncertainty of the times, there’s no telling if and when schools will resume ‘normal’ operations. Many schools and universities are looking into how they will be structuring learning for the upcoming school year while prioritizing student, teacher, and staff safety. It is likely there will be a heavy emphasis on remote learning – whether it be on a hybrid or full-time schedule.
Distance learning includes any sort of learning where the teacher and student are not in the same location. It includes both real-time (synchronous) and recorded (asynchronous) methodologies with a wide range of media and digital functions available to enrich lessons. In fact, variety is probably the common feature tying together all of distance education. It is almost endlessly customizable and flexible to teacher and students’ needs.
If you want to learn more, check out the complete guide to distance learning in 2020 here: Distance Learning 101: What Is It And Why Is It So Important?
You can also check out our post Teach From Home: A Digital Teaching Toolkit to learn about the different tools, software, and solutions available to connect teachers and students and enhance distance learning. You’ll get a detailed breakdowns of choosing the right tool for the job in each step of teaching from home.
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
Loosely defined, the Internet of Things (IoT for short) is everything in the world that is connected via the Internet. While it includes obvious devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones, it also includes all the next-generation devices that can send or receive data via a network connection such as robot vacuums or smart lights that can be dimmed with an app.
Around the classroom, however, the IoT includes even more. For example, interactive whiteboards would almost certainly be connected to the local network. The IoT also presents education with unique opportunities like running science experiments, monitoring class pets, or knowing when classroom plants need water. A tech-centric class could even build their own devices with one of these fun projects. As we lead increasingly connected lives everywhere else, we need to be ready for more connected classrooms as well.
2. Immersive Learning
Immersive learning involves learning through an artificial environment that simulates situations in which the learned information could be used. Traditional approaches might involve role-plays, field trips, or realia in the classroom. For a focused example, think flight simulator training for pilots or virtual dissections. However, the rise of accessible augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are making new opportunities available; they are also combining in amazing ways to produce mixed reality (MR).
Ideally, truly immersive learning would use a VR headset to experience everything from historical drama to environmental science. However, AR is more accessible as most mobile devices are equipped with the necessary cameras and displays. A quick look at even a shortlist of top apps will show a strong focus on educational uses, which makes it an EdTech trend to watch in 2020.
3. Video-Assisted Learning
Gone are the days of “movie day” involving a television on a trolley being wheeled into the classroom from a media room or a storage closet. Today, many classrooms feature their own Internet-connected projectors or interactive whiteboards. As such, video-assisted learning has become more common in recent years as front-of-classroom displays have become higher-tech.
There are many benefits of video-assisted learning; from enriching a lesson from a lecture or textbook to introducing new learning modalities, adding a video component to lessons both improves students’ learning outcomes and reduces teachers’ workload. As video-enabled displays and personal devices become more available, video is likely to be incorporated even more.
4. Interactive Whiteboards
Interactive whiteboards have already become a mainstay of front-of-classroom displays. Their popularity is well-earned, as they combine the functionality of whiteboards via digital whiteboarding software with the ability to embed media. The interactivity also opens up new forms of student engagement via student-centered learning and can even improve classroom inclusivity as assistive technology.
Currently projector-based interactive whiteboards number in the millions worldwide, but many of those systems are aging. According to Futuresource (paid report), as many as 1.4 million devices will need replacing by 2023. According to the same report, interactive whiteboards are shifting from projector-based systems to interactive flat-panel displays (IFPs) with a 5% increase in market share in just the third quarter of 2019. It seems that projector-based systems are in the decline worldwide while the adoption of EdTech involving touch screens is trending noticeably upwards.
Education worldwide is shifting towards more inclusive, student-centered learning. A key component of making an inclusive learning environment is using assistive technologies to better teach students with special needs. EdTech of all kinds helps bridge the gap when teaching differently-abled students:
- Audio recordings and text-to-speech assist the visually impaired or dyslexic.
- Electronic worksheets help those with learning disabilities or fine motor skill impairment.
- Video recording can restructure lessons to accommodate behavioral or attention issues (plus just general review).
- Using 1:1 devices reduces the effect on those with mobility impairments and allow self-pacing.
- Specialized age- and level-appropriate software supplements a variety of learned skills from math to spelling.
Interactive whiteboards also go a long way towards improving accessibility by adding more media options, interactive software, and more customizable content.
6. Digital Curriculum
With the volume of EdTech being incorporated into the classroom, it makes sense that curriculums will follow the digital trend. Digital learning materials could range from something as ubiquitous as PDFs and PowerPoint presentations, to interactive whiteboard lessons, to fully digital experiences like those found on popular educational sites like Skillshare or Udemy. Teachers could also create their own curriculums ad hoc with tools like Google Classroom.
Additionally, unlike traditional, analog learning materials, a digital curriculum is agile enough to respond to the Digital Age in real-time. Updates are easier to write and implement on any networked device. Moreover, a digital curriculum’s agility extends to individual students’ experience providing an unprecedented level of individualized learning.
7. Digital Whiteboarding
A digital whiteboard differs from an interactive whiteboard in that it is a software solution that includes whiteboarding functions like writing, drawing, and annotating. Digital whiteboards often exist as part of a software suite, online, or both for easy sharing and collaboration.
Digital whiteboarding solutions present teachers and students with a number of advantages over their physical versions:
- Screen recording
- Screen sharing
- Virtually infinite board space
- Multimedia options
- Multi-device integration
- Remote input
As a versatile teaching tool, digital whiteboards easily work as a means of delivering content, collaborating within lessons, and saving the results for review or re-use. Their adoption will only continue to accelerate as supporting devices gain even more traction in education.
8. Individual Learning
Many 2020 EdTech trends point towards the rise in personalized learning or individualized learning. From video-assisted learning to digital curriculums, the overall trend is a more agile, adaptive, student-centered approach to learning. As a result, blended learning and flipped classrooms are popping up all over the world. Teachers are leveraging technology to meet students partway with material that is better customized to individual learners’ needs.
Add into the mix an ever-rising availability of personal devices, it has become easier than ever for students to access learning materials in their own time at their own pace. It will be up to educators to leverage modern connectivity into adaptable learning experiences.
Final Thoughts on 2020 EdTech Trends
When it comes to EdTech, 2020 is looking like an exciting year. Of all the 2020 EdTech trends, the ones to watch are those that focus on connectivity, media enrichment, and student-centered learning. From the IoT and interactive whiteboards to immersive augmented reality and digital curriculums, the EdTech landscape is a complex mix of hardware and software solutions. Educators are leveraging a connected world to better deliver media-rich, student-centered instruction to eager students and students are making the most out of the current digital landscape to better reach their goals. Together we’re looking towards a bright, connected future of education!