Study of 481 educational leaders from 10 countries revealed eye opening insights. Results below.
Most people likely share the same thought when they imagine a classroom from the 1990s. You may be thinking about rows of desks and a blackboard at the front of the class. If you were lucky, there may have even been a projector hanging from the ceiling.
The internet was something that you could only access if you went to a special computer room. And even then, it was so slow that it felt like more of a novelty than an educational tool.
Fast forward to 2018 and things have changed. Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without the internet. Technology affects every aspect of modern life and children get exposed to it from an early age.
Children have a greater technological understanding today. Classrooms have to evolve if they’re going to keep pace. The traditional classroom isn’t enough anymore. Digital technology paves the way for improved learning outcomes.
This article examines some of the digital trends in modern education. But first, let’s look at some research. This study shows how digital technologies can have a positive impact in schools.
The Smart Technologies Study
It’s fair to say that digital technology alone doesn’t improve learning outcomes. It’s not enough to give a student a device and connect them to the internet. That doesn’t lead to better learning outcomes.
Schools need to weave technology into their very fabrics to ensure students get the most out of it.
That’s what this global study aimed to prove. Researchers surveyed 481 educational leaders from 10 countries to find out one thing.
What effect does educational technology have on learning outcomes?
The survey asked participants to rate their facilities based on 22 capabilities. It also asked them to discuss the effects of educational technology. These outcomes could look at things like test scores and career preparation. The aim was to figure out if the tech leads to better learning outcomes.
16% of all respondents reported positive results. They had higher learning outcomes as a result of using educational technology.
The majority of respondents didn’t experience such positive results. This is because it’s not up to the technology alone. It’s how it’s implemented.
Those 16% separate themselves in the following ways:
- They involve both students and teachers in their technological planning.
- They’ve created detailed plans for technology implementation.
- They conduct regular evaluations of their technology.
The survey found some interesting results on a more general level. It showed that higher-performing schools tended to use digital technologies. In particular, they used software for assessing students and adopted game-based learning.
What can you learn from this study?
Educational technology does lead to better learning outcomes. But your facility needs to have a defined plan in place to ensure that happens. Teaching staff need to understand how to use the technology well. Plus, you have to check often to ensure you’re achieving the outcomes that you need.
Here’s the important takeaway: Digital technology isn’t something that’s going to replace teachers. Instead, it’s another tool in the teacher’s arsenal. When used well, it has a positive effect on learning outcomes. That’s why the highest-performing schools in this survey all had digital plans in place.
That establishes the importance of educational technology. Now let’s look at some of the trends that may affect teaching in the coming years.
Trend #1 – Gamification
Gamification is the technical term for game-based learning. It gives educators the chance to turn children’s love of games into a learning tool.
The idea is to create interactive environments. You then use these environments to introduce complex subjects to the student. Susan Aldridge of Drexel University explains things further.
She points out that virtual game worlds offer unique opportunities. Students can use them to apply new knowledge. Plus, they enhance their decision-making skills.
Gamification also allows you to introduce obstacles for students to overcome. This enhances their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Plus, it helps students to learn how to approach problems from different angles.
Game-based learning also offers immediate feedback. A student tries something in the virtual world and can see if it works or not. The implementation of rewards systems for achievements encourages them to keep trying. As such, they hone their skills.
Recently, the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine introduced gamification to help students with their studies. They released an online game called Kaizen that lets them earn badges and compete against other students. It helps with teamwork because students can work together to earn points.
This is also something that we see in regular gaming.
For example, PlayStation 4’s Trophy System provides virtual rewards. Players earn these for completing certain tasks in a game. This encourages the player to try new things and develop their skills.
A study published in the Computers in Human Behavior journal shows why this is an effective tool. The study focused on a platform that added achievements to its framework. The aim was to prove that these virtual rewards increased engagement with the platform’s content.
It looked at 3,000 people, with half having used the platform before the addition of achievements. The other half had signed up afterwards.
The study discovered that those who received badges for achievements interacted on a deeper level with the platform. They engaged more often and in more detail.
A similar system in the classroom could reap amazing rewards in terms of learning outcomes.
Trend #2 – Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still a new technology. But we’ve already seen the impact that it’s had on the business world. Plenty of websites use AI-operated chatbots to handle their customer service needs. AI also helps people to refine data to get to the most important information.
Chatbot technology is also something that may prove useful in the classroom. For example, a simple chatbot answers basic questions. It could help students with issues relating to paperwork, homework, and facility rules. This frees up teachers’ time so they can focus on educational outcomes. Furthermore, AI-based chatbots learn over time. A school or college could examine the data a chatbot collects. This allows them to see which areas students struggle with.
But the use of AI in classrooms looks set to extend beyond these basics. The integration of Natural Language Processing (NPL) technology into AI is also important. We’re already seeing the emergence of Virtual Learning Assistants (VLAs). These can handle more open-ended student questions. As a result, they may be a useful tutoring asset.
Such systems allow for personalised learning. The AI adapts to the student’s needs. Then, it delivers an educational experience that’s tailored to them.
According to research by Technavio, they foresee the artificial intelligence market in the US education to grow at a whopping 48% CAGR during the forecast period.
Trend #3 – Learning Space Redesigns
Let’s go back to the vision of the traditional classroom that we introduced at the beginning of the article.
That vision isn’t only a thing of the past due to the introduction of digital technologies. The very way that we structure classrooms has changed.
For example, there’s an increasing focus on the size of displays. In particular, people are looking at the positioning of students in relation to displays.
The 4/6/8 rule highlights the important role this plays in modern education.
This rule states that active viewing only occurs at a distance of 4 times the height of the display or less. Between 4 times and 6 times the height of the display, this changes to basic viewing. After that, it changes to passive viewing.
Modern classroom designs keep these ratios in mind. As display technology evolves, so too will the classroom structures around them. This may include the introduction of larger displays. This would ensure active learning occurs everywhere in the class. Or, it may lead to shrinking class sizes to ensure that every student gets what they need.
We’re also seeing more classrooms structured like office environments. Moreover, these redesigned spaces incorporate digital technology. Instead of staring at a display off in the distance, students can look at a screen built into their desk. This ensures active viewing at all times. Such spaces teach students how to use digital technology. Plus, they enhance learning outcomes elsewhere due to the focus on active viewing.
In this sense, we’re seeing digital technology built into the classroom environment. Even when that does not occur, we’re also seeing classrooms getting redesigned. Digital technology has caused us to re-examine how we structure classrooms.
The Final Word
The Smart Technologies survey shows the benefits of using digital technology in classrooms.
But you need a strategy behind your tech implementation. You have to understand how to use the tech well before it can improve outcomes.
This list gives you an idea of some of the key digital trends that will affect education in the coming years. It also offers some pointers to educators.
Contact Core Innovations Group if you’d like to learn more. We can help you design and undertake digital classroom transformations, and create a plan moving forward to ensure campus wide integration is achieved and maintained.