With the Labour-led New Zealand Government confirming that digital technology will be added to the school curriculum for years 1 to 10,  the role of technology and its influence within education is top of mind for many. How can technology engage students to improve learning outcomes? How can it be used as a professional tool for educators to improve workplace efficiencies in areas like content planning, knowledge management and professional learning?

With this in mind, here are some technologies we should expect to see more of within classrooms during the next 12 months.

1. Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIEd)

Integration of Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIEd) is gaining momentum. A recent report by Pearson analysed how AIEd will transform education. Imagine the possibilities of each student having their own virtual learning assistant or ‘bot’ powered by AI that can support a student throughout their studies, creating a personalised learning journey. Or new assessment models that measure performance in real time and can adapt content accordingly. We are starting to see this in more intelligent app platforms with student, parent and teacher portals that track progress in real time – from subject-specific tools like Math Whizz and Mathletics through to PaCT (Progress and Consistency Tool), which is designed to help teachers track the progress students are making in reading, writing and mathematics.

2. Immersive experiential learning

With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) now standard in many schools, providing students with high-speed internet connectivity to the outside world through devices like tablets and smartphones is becoming ‘education essential’. This has led to wider use of virtual reality technologies, creating truly immersive learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Tools like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Google Expedition and Windows 10’s Mixed Reality Viewer are continuing to change the way subjects are taught. They allow students and educators to engage with content and remote-based experts in new ways, blending the real and virtual worlds.

3. The hyper-collaborative classroom

Using video collaboration and digital content sharing to deliver on-demand or personalised learning, provide access to experts, and enable remote-based students to attend school continues to be mainstream. Imagine if the next step for students, teachers and schools was to go from being ‘collaborative’ amongst themselves to being ‘hyper-collaborative’ – bringing together knowledge, capabilities and ideas from different industries, ecosystems and geographies.

A great example of this is happening right now in Australia: major corporates are backing a new educational ‘Women in STEM’ programme, connecting female students with real-life mentors in the corporate world via an online platform that allows them to see what happens in real time within the business world.

For 2018 and beyond, it is anticipated more educators will be willing to embrace the idea of ‘anywhere learning’ within the classroom. Enabling students to learn the way they want, where they want and in a hyper-collaborative manner.

4. Smart campuses in the cloud

In the same way that we’ve seen AI technologies and machine-led learning drive the Smart Home movement, we are seeing a similar move towards creating Smart Campuses. This involves harnessing ICT excellence in the areas of sourcing, management and accountability, catering to a diverse range of needs from learners, to educators and campus administrative teams. Market analyst IDC also suggests that central education organisations will also aim to leverage the benefits of cloud-based technologies to drive cost savings and operational efficiencies through increased cloud-related IT consolidation and shared services initiatives.

5. Coding grows from strength to strength

Coding continues to grow in popularity and the way it’s taught is evolving fast. We are also seeing a much-needed increase in private sector technology partners developing innovative educational content, provide guest expertise and knowledge transfer. Microsoft continues to develop its Minecraft coding programmes where students get to learn how to code in real time inside the game. Today, this learning experience is widely available through Microsoft’s MakeCode for Minecraft on Windows 10. Many other companies are also investing in coding for kids, producing everything from STEM starter kits to accelerate design thinking and logic to professional e-modules for teachers to ensure they have the tools to teach coding within the classroom.

Science fiction or reality?

As these 2018 ‘edu-tech trends’ suggest, the way we learn and manage our education environments is continuing to evolve rapidly. Even though new technologies like artificial intelligence, bots and virtual learning assistants may still feel like science fiction for many, they will soon be as familiar as using iPads or connecting with students in a video meeting room. We need to get prepared now to ensure teachers and students are ready to harness the potential of these new technologies in the classroom and ultimately the workplace of the future.

As a director at Polycom Asia Pacific, Mei Lin Low is a technologist and advocate for business transformation in industries, including education and healthcare, through video, voice and collaboration tools.

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