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By Katie Brenneman
Education is essential to the development of each generation. Yet, it’s important to recognize that education also develops. New tools and priorities influence both what is taught and how the information is passed on.
Our contemporary society is particularly influenced by the growth of the digital landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and other tools are quickly becoming core components of everyday life. So, how is this likely to affect the future of education? Let’s take a closer look at what we can expect.
In the current digital landscape, many people have become more familiar with the concept of smart homes. Systems that use AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) in smart homes have become more accessible in recent years. Home security platforms combine cameras that have sensors with AI-driven motion detection software to keep owners safe. Connected appliances use sensors and AI algorithms to automatically increase or reduce energy based on usage patterns. We’re already starting to see how these tools are likely to be used in the future to make classrooms smarter.
Some of the key applications of this are:
As more digital devices become part of classroom activities, it’s important to ensure that there’s seamless communication between each. Smart classrooms that connect all students' devices via the IoT can enable simple sharing of educational resources and streamlined collaboration on digital projects.
Energy efficiency Many schools already have overstretched budgets. As more digital devices enter the field, this can mean greater energy demands and costs. Therefore, smart IoT energy systems can help keep overheads to a minimum. This includes smart thermostats and lighting systems that utilize sensors to identify and adapt to environmental changes automatically.
Remote learning support
The pandemic saw more schools adopting remote learning practices and this may well become a more prevalent part of education in the future. Strategically placed smart cameras and microphones in the IoT can help remote students feel more involved with classroom activities with their peers. Smart whiteboards used by teachers can connect to digital whiteboard software that allows distanced students to collaborate.
Classrooms are already becoming smarter as the technology becomes more affordable and user-friendly. Not to mention that interacting with this tech gives kids experience with the tools that are entering workplaces and homes.
Assessments and Planning
Machine learning is one of the most important tools for automating administrative elements and streamlining lesson planning. A range of sectors are using machine learning algorithms to conduct data-heavy analysis processes that influence more effective decision-making. For instance, the finance industry is using it to detect risks, while the logistics sector combines machine learning with the IoT to predict vehicle maintenance needs.
For classrooms, some of the ways machine learning can be used include:
Reviewing student progress
Teachers can utilize machine learning-driven software to assess students’ work throughout the semester. This tool can analyze information both based on objective educational data and students’ past assessments to establish comprehension of the subject matter. This can make for both a more streamlined and accurate grading process. More importantly, it highlights areas in which individual students may be struggling so teachers can provide relevant assistance.
Personalized curriculums Not all students learn at the same pace or respond effectively to the same teaching approaches. Machine learning and AI software can utilize algorithms to assess students’ work and overall learning goals. It can then make recommendations about tools and exercises that may be more in line with individual students' needs. There are already examples of how AI is personalizing learning through platforms like the language learning app Duolingo.
Additionally, rather than simply using machine learning “behind the scenes,” it can be valuable to talk to students about how it is being used to improve their education. This can form part of projects about the ways in which machine learning is present in the workplace and its potential in the future. As a result, students gain a greater knowledge of systems that will be a key part of their workplaces and lives in the adult world.
In recent years, virtual reality (VR) tools have become a more common part of everyday life. The ongoing development of the metaverse suggests greater potential for meaningful online interactions. As a result, the future of education is looking increasingly likely to incorporate these tools to provide a more multifaceted learning experience for students.
This can include:
Virtual field trips
While it is always preferable to take students to interesting locations for enriching experiences, this isn’t always practical. However, VR headsets may offer a viable alternative. Students can wander around museums and interact with exhibits from their classrooms. Some platforms are already providing early versions of this, such as Google Arts & Culture, which offers VR expeditions in a range of subjects.
Safe immersive simulationsSome elements of learning come with a certain amount of risk. This may be handling hazardous materials in science classes, driver’s ed courses, and medical education, among others. Through mixed reality (MR) — a combination of VR, augmented reality (AR), and physical interactions — students can participate in risky exercises in the most safe yet educationally enriching ways.
That said, it’s important to recognize that there will need to be steps in place to mitigate the potential harms of excessive screen time. Educators will need to be active in designing curricula that effectively balance the benefits of screens with “unplugged” activities. This may ensure students gain experience with technology without becoming too dependent on it.
The future of education is likely to involve greater embracing of advanced digital tools. The IoT will support smarter classrooms, machine learning will drive streamlined assessments, and virtual platforms will provide immersive experiences.
Nevertheless, it’s also vital that educators maintain an awareness of the challenges this will present alongside the benefits. Before diving too enthusiastically into using these tools, there must be safeguards for security, infrastructural funding, and protocols for responsible use by students.