Dr. Christopher Abraham is a Ph.D. in Business Administration (Design Thinking & Innovation) and has three Post Graduate qualifications in HRM, Business Administration (Marketing), Labor & Administrative Law. He is a Certified Design Thinker from IDEO/Stanford and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM), UK. He has thirty-five years of experience in management consulting, marketing, and management education in India, Singapore, and the UAE. Currently, he is the CEO & Head – Dubai campus and Sr. Vice President (Institutional Development) at the S P Jain School of Global Management. His areas of competence are Innovation, Design Thinking, Behavioural Design, Neuroscience of Decision Making, Future of Education, Science of Happiness, Leadership, Human Potential, Entrepreneurship, Marketing & Strategy.
Imagine this scenario, a group of 50-100 students wearing fancy Mixed Reality headsets, peering into the Metaverse, learning the nuances of an esoteric array of subjects, from life sciences to life skills, from biology to biorhythms, from history to histrionics; the learning enabled through Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain. Sounds like science fiction. Not really. This is an actual scene likely to be enacted this year in tens of thousands of schools and colleges across the world. Welcome to the Future of Education 2022.
The last two years have been extremely challenging for all of humanity. While there was the irreparable loss of more than 5 million precious lives due to the pandemic, human beings also learned to effectively adapt to the challenging circumstances and successfully adopt various technological alternatives to not just survive but even thrive. Education institutions across the world have started experimenting with various learning alternatives and have successfully embraced the ones most appropriate and relevant in their context. The future of education will certainly move from the traditional brick-and-mortar model to exciting forms of hybridization. Some of the most exciting trends in education in 2022 are delineated below:
- Teacher adaptation to emerging technologies in education (EdTech)
While historically there has been resistance from teachers, from primary to tertiary education to adapt and embrace technologies, the pandemic has forced teachers of all sorts to accept, adapt and even embrace newer technology options. This shift has enabled many robust technology solutions to be experimented with by teachers far and wide.
- Student acceptance and adaption to new technologies in education
Students across the world comprising of millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z, due to their age advantage have spontaneously lapped up the emerging technologies in education. A fascinating experiment conducted in 1999 by Professor Sugata Mitra from the Newcastle University demonstrated the ability of semi-literate and illiterate young children from Delhi slums to learn to use a computer without any tutorial support from teachers, through a process of “Self-Directed Learning”.
- The emergence of advanced e-Learning platforms
Over the last few years, there has been tremendous growth in the number of good e-Learning platforms including Udemy, Skillshare, Coursera, LinkedIn learning, and the like. These course platforms are complemented by learning management systems like Docebo, Blackboard, LearnUpon, SAP Litmos, iSpring learn, and Moodle. Today, teachers and students have a wide variety of options to choose from to enhance their knowledge and skills in an increasingly uncertain world.
- Growth of immersive learning using VR (Virtual Reality) AR (Augmented Reality) MR (Mixed Reality) and ER (Extended Reality)
Interesting research on the use of these technologies has proven that these immersive technologies can enhance the learning experience due to the multi-sensory experiences they provide to the learner. For example, the Duke University Medical School effectively uses these technologies to teach students courses in human anatomy and physiology. This trend is picking up in various other fields including engineering, astronomy, business, design, etc.
- Holographic Projections and Robotic Teachers
No longer science fiction, these interesting technologies are complementing traditional learning in more ways than one. Education today is entering a new era where such technologies can make remote learning innovative, pluralistic, and personal. Technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Telepresence are fast evolving as the future of learning and education.
- Evolution of Simulation and Gamification
With remote learning and hybrid learning becoming more of a norm, the challenge for teachers has been to keep students engaged throughout an entire session. In the last few years, more and more teachers have adopted the use of Simulations and Gamification to give an experiential twist to learning. It’s been proven that these methods enhance student engagement and result in maximum involvement and interest in students.
- Shift from traditional examinations to projects and assessments
The centuries-old examination system is now being questioned for its efficacy. The solution forward could be evaluations based on projects and applications of the learned concepts. Interestingly, many technology solutions are addressing this challenge and opening many unexplored opportunities including quicker delivery, real-time grading, security, and wider reach digitally. Solutions like Merittrack, Mettl, etc. are proving to be interesting alternatives in the evaluation and assessment space.
- AI and Machine Learning
Over the years, the rampant growth of AI technologies combined with Machine Learning has provided a plethora of opportunities in the learning ecosystem. While AI can outthink humans in quantitative areas like mathematics and logical decision-making, it would be quite some time before they can outsmart the way humans feel, emote, imagine, and create. AI and Machine learning tools can certainly be used for repetitive tasks while teachers can effectively complement the critical human dimensions.
- Big Data, Analytics, and Personalized Learning Environments (PLE)
The phenomenal growth of Big Data and Analytics has resulted in the creation of personalized learning solutions, fine-tuned to the learning styles, speed, and competencies of individual students. Institutions have developed Apps to monitor student progress, make timely interventions to address ongoing issues and bring every student on board along with their peers. This is a radical shift from the “one size fits all” approach of yesteryears.
- Innovations in Blockchain technology
The unique Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), which is the bedrock for Blockchain offers a variety of opportunities in education. From the storage of massive amounts of data in “blocks” to placing certificates and diplomas in the Blockchain ledger, there is a strong possibility of many more such applications of Blockchain in education due to security, scalability, and authentication.
In conclusion, while these exciting EdTech trends are dramatically transforming, the teaching and learning landscape, let us not forget the significant role that teachers will continue to play in the education of a student. The traditional role of a teacher has metamorphosed into that of a mentor, counselor, guide, and expert in more disciplines than one. The future would have a judicious blend of cutting-edge technologies complemented by the ageless wisdom of the traditional teacher.