For a long time, post-18 education was dominated by three or four-year in-person degree courses. With the financial and time commitment this involved, it’s unsurprising that large parts of the global population were locked out from adult education.
Technology, however, has begun to democratise educational access. There’s also now a growing acknowledgement that one size does not fit all when it comes to learning.
As a result, a much wider range of courses and qualifications are now available, with a greater focus on flexibility and lifelong learning.
These changes have been accelerated by the global pandemic, which saw a growing demand for online courses and a better understanding of their value.
As technology continues to evolve, so will the way we learn. Here we look at some of the ways technology is changing education across the globe:
Wider access to high-quality learning opportunities
Online courses have removed many logistical and financial barriers to study. As a result, more people from a wider range of backgrounds have access to quality education.
It’s still not a level playing field. During the pandemic, people from remote or deprived areas have often been without the necessary connectivity, IT skills or devices to benefit from online teaching.
Students are now increasingly empowered to seek out qualifications with a proven track record on employability. This has the potential to bridge educational divides and ensure more people are able to thrive in a post-Covid economy.
Increased choice for learners
In many countries, the Covid pandemic resulted in a wholesale shift to remote learning. Such a rapid, unplanned change was not without problems. That said, it did clearly demonstrate that effective learning was possible outside of a traditional lecture theatre.
Many universities are now looking at continuing to provide distance or hybrid learning options. This trend should lead to a greater choice of courses and will give students more freedom about when and where they learn.
Likewise, there’s now a greater understanding of the merits of online assessment. Recent developments in remote invigilation are enabling course providers to offer learners more flexibility when it comes to exams.
A tailored approach to education
Until recently, all students on a course received the same tuition. However, developments in artificial intelligence (AI) are starting to shift this uniform approach to education.
Educational institutions are now harnessing algorithms and AI to personalise courses to meet each learner’s need.
Powered by machine learning, education providers can develop individual learner profiles and adapt course materials, taking into account the student’s previous knowledge and preferred learning style.
As Bill Gates predicted in a 2016 interview, AI-driven feedback can also give individuals greater control: “The idea with personalized learning is you always know yourself where you are on a topic … and how much there’s left to do to achieve certain levels. So, there is more personal agency.”
Diversified teaching methods
Similarly to the way many people prefer on-demand video content to traditional television programming, there’s now a growing call from students for more flexible and innovative course delivery.
During the pandemic, both students and teachers have seen the benefits of using video exemplars that allow explanations to be revisited as many times as needed. Gaming technology and social media have also been used to good effect. For example, some universities have used Minecraft to teach coding skills or introduced game-based learning in their online lectures; other institutions have produced bite-sized academic content on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
On top of this, VR technology promises to further revolutionise course delivery by providing students with remote immersive learning experiences.
With the potential to motivate and engage, it looks certain technology will continue to transform teaching practices.
Be part of the change
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