With 2018 just around the corner, technology is already sweeping through classrooms as educators and developers create more and more products designed to enhance education.
New technologies like AI, machine learning, and educational software aren’t just changing the field for students, they’re shaking up the role of educators, creating philosophical shifts in approaches to teaching, and remodeling the classroom.
With an influx of new learning models available, traditional educational methods are bound to evolve in the next decade. To get a better sense of where things are heading, Business Insider has taken a closer look at technology’s developing role in the field of education and outlined the advances that could be spelled out for the future.
Technology is providing a way for learning models to become increasingly personalized.
Every student learns differently, and technology allows educators to accommodate unique learning styles on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re currently challenging the paradigm that all seven-year-olds are exactly the same and should be exposed to the same content,” said Brian Greenberg, CEO of Silicon Schools, in an interview with Business Insider. “We’re starting to question what’s right for this seven-year-old versus what’s right for that seven-year-old.”
Technologies like DreamBox, a math education software that's used in a number of classrooms across the US, adapts to each student's skill level and lets students learn at a pace best suited to their needs.
Adaptive learning software is quickly replacing the role of textbooks in the classrooms and students are tackling subjects with the aid of tailor-made computer programs that assist their needs.
Expect technology to present some philosophical shifts in education, as well
With technology making it easier than ever before to query Google or effortlessly calculate a math problem, educators are determining the types of knowledge students need in order to thrive in a technology-saturated workforce.
While educational models of the past focused on providing students with the requisite skills to turn them into skilled workers, the educators of today are more concerned with teaching students how to learn on their own.
"The real purpose of education is for the brain to be empowered with information," said Greenberg. "We're teaching students to learn to think, to learn to learn, and to critically assess a situation."
Even with technology being used in more and more classrooms, teachers will be as important as ever.
CEO of Silicon Schools Brian Greenberg says that evolving technology doesn't undermine a teacher's role in the classroom; instead, it augments it.
"Technology is important, but it's really just the means to an end," Greenberg said. "The real magic is in giving great educators freedom and license into how school works."
With more data available to track each classroom's progress, educators are provided with increasing insight into how their students are struggling.
Math education software DreamBox provides educators with recordings and data into how students are learning and progressing so that educators can focus on the areas where their classrooms need the most help.
In order for technology to function successfully in the classroom, DreamBox's SVP of Learning, Tim Hudson, says that it needs to be in touch with educators and their needs. "It's important that we listen to teachers and administrators to determine the ways technology can assist them in the classroom," Hudson told Business Insider.
Artificial intelligence is poised to play an integral role as well.
AI makes one-to-one tutoring increasingly possible at enormous scale.
The U.S. Navy has introduced an AI-based tutoring system called Education Dominance into an entry-level IT school in Pensacola. The platform works similarly to a human tutor, monitoring each student's progress and providing personalized assessments and tests.
The Navy reported that the students who had worked with the digital tutor made enormous strides in their education, and that they consistently tested higher than students who had studied without the program's benefit.
The platform provides a glimpse into how educational models might work in the next 15 years: computers acting as individual tutors in classrooms filled with diverse learning styles.
Students can assume more responsibility in the classroom.
With educators better equipped at understanding a student's learning process, classrooms are being formed around small groups, with students who match each other's skill level working together.
Greenberg says that this shift in tailor-made learning groups provides students with independence in the classroom.
"There's an increasing push for students to take more ownership and have more involvement into how they learn," said Greenberg. "Creating agency in the classroom improves student's motivations."
With adaptive technology assisting individuals at every skill level, students are better equipped to learn on their own.
These are the technologies that are making a difference in education right now.
In the future it's likely that we'll start seeing classrooms adopt a one-to-one ratio between kids and devices. Here are the technology programs that are currently making waves in the field of education:
- Tablets like Google's Chromebook are an ideal classroom device because they're relatively cheap, interchangeable, easy to manage, and provide access to a range of Google's educational software.
- For math, DreamBox, Zearn, and ST Math are software programs that adapt to students as they learn.
- In the area of language arts, programs like No Red Ink, Achieve 3000, and Newsela provide students with ways to easily understand reading and writing.
- Software that allows educators to manage and test their classrooms like Quizlet are becoming widely used.
And despite the inundation of technology within the classroom, its role still remains to be determined.
"Technology is not silver bullet solution," said Greenberg.
"We have to be honest that we don't have definitive proof one way or the other yet that technology is improving education. We are cautiously optimistic that technology is having a very bold impact."
Technology's benefit in the classroom is all in the way it's used. When paired with interpersonal relationships, thoughtful educators, and deliberate programs, technology can be an incredible asset, but Greenberg warns that it isn't the end-all solution to education.
"It's not about having a kid stare at a screen for six hours a day," Greenberg said. "The real story for the future of education will center around how educators structure and run their classrooms."