From primary to higher education, as well as professional and workplace training, every step of education has shifted to online and cloud-based delivery platforms. Aside from that, the changing needs of business and workforces have resulted in a significant shift in the connection between adult learners and postsecondary institutions such as colleges and universities.
The value of the educational technology (EdTech) sector is forecast to grow to $680 million by 2027. Much of this will be due to mobile technology, cloud services and virtual reality creating new possibilities for accessible, immersive learning. From an optimistic point of view, we can celebrate the fact that the quality of education available in 2022 is less limited by where someone happens to live in the world and the time, they have available to attend classes. On the other hand, we must remain aware that disparities in access to technology create another set of challenges when it comes to striving for equality of educational opportunities. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the most important tech trends affecting education over the next 12 months:
The coronavirus pandemic forced many schools and colleges to switch to a remote learning model. However, as with many other changes, this was simply an acceleration of a trend that’s been going on for some time already. The market for online learning services and e-learning is forecast to grow by 15% annually between 2020 and 2025, reaching a value of $50 billion. E-learning offers school-age students the possibility of learning subjects and skills that are not taught locally, while for those in higher education, the benefits include allowing them to more easily fit learning around other commitments such as work or family responsibilities.
E-learning is an increasingly popular option for workplace training, too – a study by IBM into its own remote learning initiatives found that its learners had been able to absorb five times more content, at one-third of the cost to the company, resulting in a saving of $200 million.
As well as formal education and training, many more of us are now taking the opportunity to engage in recreational learning and learning driven by interests outside of our professional lives. Apps like Duolingo offer accessible language tuition, while others such as Flowkey and Simply Piano are aimed at those who want to learn to play instruments.
Lifelong learning (subscription services)
The education system in place today was developed for a different world when youngsters were expected to train for a "job for life." Learning opportunities were restricted to those that could be delivered in venues that students could physically access, and our years of formal education would be “front-loaded” – crammed into our first 20 years. The employment landscape today is vastly different from the one our grandparents or even parents were accustomed to. The rapid pace of technological advancement means skills can quickly become outdated, and developing new competencies on an ongoing basis is a vital strategy for career and business success.
In the face of this wave of change, education providers and learners are moving towards an ongoing model of education – perhaps taking cues from the trend for subscription services in many other areas of life. Another driver is the emergence of online learning aggregators such as Coursera or Udemy, which, along with traditional degrees and multi-year courses, offer thousands of "micro-courses." These aim to break learning down into bite-sized chunks that can be completed in a matter of weeks or months. New methods of learning like this are designed to fit in with the changing needs of businesses and employers in the 21st century and will become an increasingly popular option with learners looking for flexible ways of fitting education into their lives.
This trend links back once again to the fact that attention spans are shrinking, and there is always something competing for our time. Nano-learning describes a new EdTech concept where we can get ultra-bite-sized lessons exactly when and where we need them. Under this paradigm, it doesn't matter if we don't even remember what we've learned for more than 10 minutes because when we need to use the knowledge again, we can simply re-learn it! A good analogy is a cooking recipe – if we aren’t professional bakers, we might only bake one or two cakes a year, so there’s no need to hold the exact weights and measures of sugar and flour in our long-term memories. Applying the same principle to academic or professional subjects, brief lessons – such as those provided by the text message learning service Arist, can be absorbed over WhatsApp, Slack, or Teams. Other nano-learning platforms impart knowledge over social networks like Twitter or TikTok. Nano-learning will undoubtedly grow in popularity during 2022 as it fits with society’s need for ways of passing on knowledge and proficiency that are instantaneous, modular, and even addictive!
(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in Forbes. The original article can be found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/02/18/the-five-biggest-education-and-training-technology-in-2022/?sh=7cb3f4a92f4d)