We are surrounded by technology across all aspects of our lives. This is true, both at work and at home. The rapid evolution of digital technologies is reshaping the world. For example, we are all familiar with how Amazon has disrupted retailing, Netflix has changed the way that we watch TV, Airbnb has altered how we travel, and Spotify has refined how we listen to music.
Learning is not immune to these adjustments. Education has been transforming over the past twenty years. Education Technology, or EdTech, describes the improvement in learning ability through the use of appropriate technologies. EdTech is revolutionising learning.
Technology changing Education
Recent developments in the use of technology in education may appear to have been sprung upon us. However, there has been, for the past twenty or more years, an iterative process to bring us to where we are today.
One of the early promoters of EdTech was Lynda Learning (later purchased by Microsoft for $26 billion), which was founded in 1995. While the use of tech in those early ventures was limited, widespread access to the internet over the subsequent years enabled the creation and development of the Massive Open Online Courses (known as MOOCs) sector. Since the mid-2000s, education and learning have been available on an anytime, anywhere basis to anyone with access to broadband or a smartphone.
Technology does not rest
Nowadays, traditional education providers are under extreme pressure to bring technology to the campus. While many universities and colleges have embraced these changes, the business model implemented by most of these institutes inhibits change – college lecturers are tenured, their knowledge and expertise are out of date, and they simply cannot develop new courses – especially technology courses – fast enough.
In fact, because of how fast technology is moving, one could argue that the model cannot scale fast enough to meet the ever-increasing demands from industry. Topics such as software development, blockchain, cyber-security, internet of things and user experience are all examples of new and rapidly-developing disciplines that are being taught outside the walls of the traditional education providers.
A vast swathe of changes has enabled this progression in learning abilities, including:
- Access to the internet is widely available – it is estimated that over half of the world’s population, or 3.2 billion, have access to the internet.
- Smartphone costs have been falling – 36% of the global population has a smartphone.
- Learning Management Systems (the backbone of online learning which is a piece of software to administer, track, report and deliver training) – LMS products are numerous and dropping in price.
- Data Analytics – data is improving the measurement and monitoring of students while also enabling increased personalisation of learning services.
Infancy of what’s possible
We are only at the infancy of what is possible. Over the coming years, AI and Machine Learning are set to transform how we learn and how our learning is managed.
It is now possible, with basic data analytics, to understand what types of roles are going to be in demand over the next few years. Smaller, focused institutes, such as Code Institute, are using this data, working alongside employers who are creating the jobs, to develop education pathways for learners so that they are ready, upon graduation, to step into these new positions. These same institutions are rejecting the old-fashioned and dated three and four-year learning cycles in favour of accelerated learning models. Students are taught in a practical and career-focused manner.
For example, job-ready students can decide to change career, graduate from Code Institute and land their chosen role, all within six months.
Impact of AI
As AI becomes increasingly adopted, modern learning academies and institutes will understand how students learn and direct them accordingly. AI will help to support those same students through their education. It will also determine how a student prefers to study and deliver associated programs at the appropriate time. Finally, it will understand the individual student nuances within the learning community, focusing on assisting the weaker students while encouraging the stronger ones.
AI, in time, will allow us to personalise the experience for each student. It also provides the institute and teachers with a full 360-degree view of how the student is learning and how to manage their experience in the very best way.
Technology is changing how we learn for the better. Embrace it!