Higher education is experiencing the power of technology more than ever before. Educational technology tools, which were once thought of as forward-thinking or nice-to-have, are now needed to continue teaching students without disruption in the current climate. Emerging technologies for teaching and learning are making a significant impact on the ways students consume course material and universities are being charged with continuing to innovate and implement a plethora of helpful ed-tech tools to stay competitive.

Often one of the biggest barriers to incorporating emerging technologies in the classroom is fear of how to implement them effectively. Not every faculty member is tech savvy or understands the full potential of how the latest technology in education can drive the success of students. Now, fears on implementing these emerging technologies in education have to be thrown out with the social distancing requirements posed by COVID-19.

The impact of technology in education

Technology has greatly impacted the everyday learning experience. It has greatly expanded access to education. In medieval times, for example, only the elite had access to educational opportunities and books. Individuals had to travel to centers of learning to receive an education.

Today, everything is available online and on-demand. Technology has also enabled teaching to occur in a variety of formats, both formal and informal, including MOOCs, podcasts and standard online degree programs. Regardless of the specific learning method, opportunities to collaborate and hear from professionals and thought leaders directly have greatly expanded with access to technologies.

For example, rather than learning about medicine in a standard classroom setting, students in one location can Zoom with medical professionals around the world and learn about their work and even see items they’re working on in real-time. From reading blog posts to viewing photos to the ability to simply email a doctor working on an interesting innovation, the possibilities presented by technology are virtually endless. Technology allows students to expand their knowledge and witness real-world experience from individuals who can serve as mentors to them.

Technologies making an impact today

From AI to 3D printing to online learning, a variety of technologies are making the biggest impact on student learning today. These technologies also allow educators to account for the shortened attention spans and on-demand expectations of many of today’s students.

    • Gamification: Many educators are utilizing gamification as an educational approach to motivate students. Essentially, this method allows them to learn by utilizing video game design and game elements in the learning environment. Gamification allows schools to create enjoyable and engaging experiences for students by inspiring them to approach education through games, contests and more.
    • Video and online classes: With the undeniable growth of usage in Zoom, BlueJeans and additional web conferencing tools, due to the novel coronavirus, many universities are continuing to see the benefits of offering more coursework online and remote student learning. Prior to COVID-19, university leaders were already encouraging more video use in the classroom to provide engaging ways for students to experience material. The growth of online courses and video materials is only expected to continue and adapt to allow for more personalized student learning. 
    • Accessibility: Technology and specifically Artificial Intelligence-based tools continue to showcase how they can help an array of students participate in online and offline course settings. For example, universities can embed AI-powered captions onto their videos and offer interactive transcription to students who may not be able to participate live otherwise, such as those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, these tools help to serve as learning features for all students and are proven to drive academic success with additional ways to engage with materials more effectively. 

Additional emerging trends in educational technology

Emerging trends in education also include the opportunity to utilize new technologies such as 3D printing, virtual reality, augmented reality and more. These once futuristic concepts continue to be implemented in more classroom settings and will continue to be embraced.

From 3D printing organs to participating in a virtual reality experience on how fish farming works in other areas of the world, these emerging technologies for teaching and learning are really reinventing the student experience and their capacity to become proficient in their field with more visual methods that wouldn’t be feasible prior.

Budgets are also a significant reason why educators are often limited in providing their students with everything they’d like to. MBA programs often send their students to remote destinations to gain additional knowledge, but not all students can afford these opportunities. Augmented and virtual reality for example can allow students on a budget to reap the benefits of being abroad without ever stepping on a plane.

Trends in educational technology and the growing usage of ed-tech tools only show the power and potential these additional materials and methods of teaching provide to today’s students. Education is about sharing knowledge and technology allows for seamless knowledge sharing and collaboration with faculty, students and professionals around the world.