The unexpected shift to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced educators of all kinds to rethink their approach. No longer optional supplements to a teacher’s curriculum, education technology tools have become central components of the learning experience. The 2020-2021 school year saw a 90% increase in students and teachers using EdTech products, with an average of nearly 1500 digital education tools accessed per month by school districts in the United States. This surge in demand for digital education solutions has created an explosion in the e-learning market, which is now on track to exceed $1 trillion by 2027. While many schools and universities are cautiously returning to in-person classes once again, the mass experiment in distance learning has permanently changed perceptions of the role of tech in education.
Unfortunately, K-12 schools and universities have been hit hard with teacher burnout since 2020, as teachers juggled new technologies to deliver their curriculum while also trying to ensure students were engaged and learning effectively from home. Moving forward, the challenge faced by schools is adopting the right technologies that aid learning while offloading time-consuming tasks from teachers. EdTech trends that will continue in 2022 are influenced by a need for solutions that not only dazzle students and teachers, but are also sustainable for long-term implementation. This year, we expect to see continued growth in cloud technology, AI-powered platforms, and augmented reality.
Education Cloud Technology
Cloud-based solutions grew widely in popularity with the mass transition to remote classes, and the use of cloud technology is set to continue growing in 2022 as more schools recognize its many advantages. The global cloud computing market is expected to more than double from 2021’s value of $445 billion to $947 billion by 2026. The most popular model of cloud adoption in schools are Software as a Service (Saas) tools, which are externally-hosted, subscription-based applications that can be accessed through the internet from any device and location. By offloading the IT environment to offsite servers that are managed by a cloud provider, SaaS allows schools to access their resources on demand without adding extra burden to school IT departments—a huge advantage for the many schools facing staffing challenges. Cloud-based SaaS systems are typically much more secure than traditional network solutions because of the economies of scale. Cloud-delivered applications also improve the quality of the virtual learning experience through their ability to support collaboration across a large number of devices, along with their ease of use and scalability.
Cloud-based EdTech platforms open possibilities not just for online classes, but a full range of academic services including assignment grading, communication between parents and teachers, grade reporting, and attendance management. Google Workspace for Education is currently the most widely used suite of online tools in schools, since its basic version is free to use and integrates with Google’s other cloud applications such as Drive, Sheets, and Docs. The flexibility of cloud-based tools will also aid in the transition back to in-person learning, as these applications can help accommodate the gap between the virtual and physical as schools react to ongoing waves of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The flexibility of the cloud, combined with the unique requirements of school districts, can also create complexity for educators, so standardizing the experience is very important when dealing with multiple curriculums, tools, and education platforms. School districts can utilize SSO (single sign-on) services, such as Clever and Classlink, which provide a log-in experience that is standardized across all content providers, as long as it’s supported by the platforms. SSOs use Identity Providers, or IdP, to provide a list of the authorized users, or who can have access to the educational content. Active Directory (ADFS), Azure, Google, Canvas, and custom LDAP servers are a few standard options for IdP. Schoology, Google Classroom, and Canvas provide Learning Management Systems (LMS) functionality, which include assignments, discussion threads, and grading. They can integrate with SSO, IdP, and other content and curriculum providers. Since there are so many choices, and every platform can require its own data format, it’s important to understand how it all fits together while making sure the process feels smooth for the students and teachers.
LEARN MORE: Whiz-It is a math mobile application for kids. Through the software, parents or teachers can set up rewards for which the child can redeem points, earned by practicing. Students practice incremental addition problems and can use an in-app scratchpad for assistance.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
With the exponential growth of easily implementable solutions for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in the last few years, it is no surprise that these technologies are a top trend in the EdTech sphere. One of the most notable tools powered by AI are adaptive learning platforms, which can create a fully personalized learning experience by adjusting content in real time based on user input. Programs such as DoodleLearning can tailor lessons to match individual student proficiency and learning style, dynamically adjusting content according to the student’s performance. Adaptive learning software can also connect with external devices to increase student engagement, like the Roybi Robot, an AI-powered robot that pairs with a mobile app to create personalized lessons for children. As adaptive learning continues to evolve and improve, use of these platforms will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond. According to Emergen Research, the global adaptive learning market will increase in value from $1.86 billion to $9.11 billion by 2028.
The rise in use of EdTech in the classroom also means a rise in the time spent by teachers managing these various applications. To help ease this burden on teachers, AI-powered digital assistants are being increasingly adopted to assist with classroom management. Symphony Classroom, an AI hub from EdTech startup Merlyn, is a digital assistant designed specifically for education. Symphony Classroom allows teachers to use voice commands to seamlessly control a range of hardware and apps. Laptops, digital displays, browsers, and even apps like Google Drive can respond to voice commands thanks to AI-powered integration.
SEE IT IN ACTION: The CTI web portal and mobile application provides coaching and managerial training for physicians who have moved into leadership positions. The system analyzes the user’s skills, builds a customized training program, and pairs the user with a coach that is best suited for the skill difference.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have limitless possibilities in education, and these technologies are rapidly growing in popularity in schools. AR can add digital elements to the real-world setting using a mobile device, while VR is a completely virtual experience that requires a headset. By giving students the opportunity to have fully immersive and interactive learning experiences, VR/AR can help improve educational outcomes with increased motivation and engagement from students. As the cost of VR headsets continues to trend downward, schools will be able to purchase more units and incorporate them into a regular part of the curriculum. Estimates predict that the revenues from VR headsets used in education will grow to $640 million by 2023, while the total value of AR in education will reach $5.3 billion by next year.
After the upfront investment, VR can also help schools save money on other types of equipment. VR laboratory simulations like the ones offered by tech startup Labster enable students to run hundreds of different science experiments without physical lab equipment. As VR hardware is more widely adopted by schools, educational content for the platforms will also continue to expand, catering to learners from kindergarten to post-grad.
CHECK IT OUT: Activate Learning has disrupted the middle school science curricula with its IQWST methodology and technology. The web and native app allows millions of students to use inquiry-based learning in a paper-free environment.
As educators continue navigating the impact of the pandemic on schools, one thing is clear: virtual learning is here to stay, so school leaders should plan for permanent adoption of online learning tools. Administrators should consider integrating the right balance of technologies that will empower teachers, improve online collaboration, and help fight tech burnout by making learning personalized and engaging for students.
Sourcetoad has been building software applications for nearly 15 years, and we understand how to transform various stakeholder demands and ideas into effective technological solutions. Whether you’re looking to solve a complex business problem or digitize your products and services to meet changing market demands, our team has years of experience developing, implementing, and maintaining successful projects like yours. We have worked with teachers, trainers, coaches, and all types of learners—we appreciate the challenges our public, private, and corporate educational clients face.
When you’re ready to begin developing custom educational software for your organization, reach out to schedule a 30- or 60-minute call. We’d love to introduce ourselves, learn about your needs, and hear how we can help turn your idea into reality.