EdTech Trends for 2022
Posted on: 14th Jan 2022 by: Gary Henderson
I always enjoy looking forward to what the future in technology in schools might hold however currently I find it a bit more difficult than normal. The issue is that during the pandemic the use of technology in schools has taken dramatic leaps forward. Suddenly there was a wide-scale need to make use of video technology, to use learning platforms and online apps, to require devices for all, or at least as many as possible, students and teaching staff. And with this great leap forward, the future possibly looks a little more certain, however, despite this, I will make an attempt at a little crystal ball gazing.
Short to Medium Term
So, let’s start with my short to medium-term predictions, the ones I think we can be more certain will actually come to pass.
More 1:1 Devices
The last two years have shown us the power of technology, and in particular mobile devices, combined with internet access and online platforms in enabling learning when face to face learning is not possible, or outside the normal hours of traditional schooling. As such more and more schools are likely to look towards how they can provide, support and/or encourage devices for use by students. I think the one challenge here is to avoid focussing too much on the short term, and on purchasing devices now. Any procurement of devices, or any plan to support or encourage students to have their own devices needs to be sustainable and include the relevant plans to replace and update such devices as part of a planned cycle, thereby being more prepared for the longer term.
Productivity suites and other online platforms
I think the current tendency of schools to gather around a limited number of productivity suites and platforms is likely to continue. Google Workspaces for Education (formerly G-Suite for education) and Microsoft Office 365 are likely to lead the way in this area however I suspect platforms such as Showbie will also continue to see increasing usage, while other platforms are likely to see reductions in school numbers as schools gather around a more select few platforms.
The importance of video has been highlighted by the pandemic. Whether it is for real-time events or lessons delivered online or for providing content and resources that can be viewed by students at any time, supporting the flipped classroom. I suspect we will therefore see continuing and increasing use of video content, both centrally created but also created by teachers and schools. For me, the critical issue here will be avoiding the creation of new resources by teachers adding significantly to workload plus the need to avoid teachers in different schools basically reinventing the wheel by each creating the same content rather than sharing and spreading the load.
It is always more difficult to predict with any reliability in the longer term, however, let me give it a go and provide you with some of my thoughts:
Data, Analytics and Business Intelligence
Schools have for a long time been generating increasing amounts of data however I don’t think we have seen the corresponding increase in usable information which can be acted upon. I suspect we will start to see greater use of tools such as PowerBi or Tableau to allow data to be easily visualised and analysed. Linked to this we will also see greater use of machine learning to identify patterns and anomalies in the data which can lead to more frequent and agile data-driven decision making. The challenge will be in managing the highly unstructured nature of school data and in training machine learning solutions such that they can draw sensible conclusions from the data ingested.
Natural Language Processing/Avatars
Linked to the above and the ability and need to analyse data, I think there will be increased development of solutions to provide just-in-time support and advice for students. We have already seen some development in this area at Bolton College in their FirstPass solution. These developments will be all about providing immediate support and advice to students, much in the same way as a teacher does when working 1:1 with a student. This will involve machine learning once again and will likely require significant amounts of training data in order to develop solutions that are attuned to learning, to students and to schools. Support provided to students might relate to writing assignments, to seeking support, to welfare, to school administrative issues, and to an increasing range of school activities.
The widespread discussion of the Metaverse makes me believe I need to include Virtual Reality (VR) as one of my predictions. I have already experimented a little with VR and there is clear potential in relation to tasks that are dangerous, impossible, or just logistically difficult to achieve in real life. There is also significant potential in relation to collaboration plus in creativity with new virtual spaces where the rules of the real world need not apply. For me, the success of the Metaverse, or of the Metaverses as is more likely, will be in supporting enough different vendors and functionality within a single platform. Whether this happens is yet to be seen. As the prices of VR equipment reduces it is likely to see increasing use in schools.
One of the keywords I have been using recently with my IT Services team is “Entropy”. I use the word in relation to how systems tend towards increasing disorder and our need to accept this. The last two years have shown this, with, and I hesitate to say it, unprecedented disorder being the order of the day. I doubt this will change therefore it is difficult to predict Technology in schools in 2022 although I suspect my 3 short-to-medium term projections are reasonably sure bets. As to my longer-term predictions, I suspect these will be beyond the scope of 2022 however it never hurts to have an eye on the horizon.
Director of IT at Millfield School
(also a trained teacher with 20+ years’ experience across secondary schools, further education and higher education, both in the UK and the Middle East.)
Written for Education Executive
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