By Ellie PoverlyImage Source: www.unsplash.com
Anyone in the education sector knows that new technologies are poised to revolutionize the traditional classroom.
In the past few years, educational institutions have adapted to a new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents, students, teachers and administrators had to remain flexible, adjust to virtual learning environments and adopt new digital technologies to facilitate learning.
Although the industry is still reeling from the adverse effects of the pandemic, the global disruption sparked major growth in one relevant sector: education technology (ed tech).
A primary example of ed tech is artificial intelligence (AI), which has already proven itself as a highly useful, effective tool with various applications and benefits. How important is AI in supporting the rise of the ed tech market? Will more K-12 and secondary education institutions adopt AI-based solutions in the future?
The Growth of the Ed Tech Market
There’s no question that the education sector needs to harness the power of new and emerging technologies. In doing so, more school districts will benefit from an innovative approach to education and provide unique learning opportunities for students who stray from traditional teaching styles.
A primary goal of the ed tech market is to provide high-quality, robust solutions for educational institutions and professionals that empower students to reach their full potential. Teachers, teacher assistants, administrators, staff and other essential personnel can benefit from various options because of the seemingly limitless use cases for new technologies.
Some of the most prevalent technologies in ed tech today include:
- In-classroom tablets
- Interactive whiteboards and projection screens
- Online content delivery
- Massive online open courses (MOOCs)
- Virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR)
- Social media
- Big data analytics
- AI and machine learning (ML)
Because the world of education is becoming increasingly digital, it’s no surprise that the ed tech market is booming. The pandemic accelerated growth, but many experts suggest that investments in ed tech will continue to increase, even after the pandemic becomes a distant memory.
AI Use Cases in Education
AI is a powerful ally for students and teachers worldwide, no matter the grade level or topics being covered. However, professionals outside the education sector may not know how AI is used in real-life scenarios. Someone who wants to understand the role of AI in ed tech better must know how it’s used in an educational setting.
Here are some practical ways educators use AI in the classroom:
- Flagging sensitive or dangerous use of school and district technology
- Personalization tools that adapt the curriculum for students based on how they react to content in real-time
- Predicting which students are at risk of failing academically
- Identifying social media or other online content associated with threats against a school and even students at risk of harming themselves
- Designing bus or class schedules
- Programs that grade and rate student writing and their responses to open-ended questions on exams
AI in the education market will likely reach over $80 billion by 2030 due to a few driving factors, including:
- Higher demand for novel, interactive learning experiences
- Increasing investments in ed tech startups
- Growing emphasis on digital learning platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- New, critical academic standards
- Helping students pursue higher education and find career success
- Stronger focus on measuring students’ problem-solving and critical thinking capabilities
The ultimate goal of AI and other education technologies is to create more high-quality learning experiences for students. For example, educators can provide pupils with AI tools, creating a tech-driven approach to solving problems. This method is far more beneficial than handing out learning materials for kids to bring home, memorize and regurgitate on an exam.
AI: Fueling Growth in the Ed Tech Market
AI and its wide range of applications will undoubtedly impact the ed tech market in multiple ways, some of which might be challenging to predict.
Consider the hundreds of thousands of companies across the world’s largest industries using AI for various purposes. AI has transformed sectors like retail, manufacturing, health care, government, marketing and technology.
The importance of AI’s role in ed tech is described in the U.S. Department of Education Office of Education Technology’s website. Various drop-down menus on the homepage bring visitors to publications, blog posts, technology resources and the department’s mission.
However, AI is the first topic listed under the “Priorities” menu. If AI were not expected to play a role in education, it wouldn’t be listed. It’s clear that AI is disrupting ed tech and will impact the companies producing the latest hardware and software.
The Future of AI in Ed Tech
Although AI has more room to improve, it holds promise for the future of education. AI is becoming more ubiquitous, penetrating every aspect of the average person’s daily life, so it's understandable it would carve out a place in education.
AI is already making waves in ed tech and shows no signs of slowing down. Professionals in the education sector will have to decide if AI-based solutions are worth investing in, especially if they can positively impact student learning outcomes.
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About the Author
Ellie is an online journalist specializing in robotics and science research. She is also the Managing Editor at Revolutionized Magazine.