Technology in Education – A Forecast for 2018


2018 will see the rise of data-led student retention, flexible classroom design, digital transformation (and yes, VR) in educational institutions across APAC

Authored by Jeff Rubenstein, Vice President at Kaltura

Digital transformation and the rise of millennials are dominating headlines in Asia Pacific (APAC). Catalysed by rapid advancement in technology, we are witnessing the advent of innovative solutions across various industry verticals with multiple use cases, drastically improving the way we interact or accomplish tasks.

As millennials come of age, the profile of the modern student will be one that is adept with technology, using it in virtually all aspects of their personal lives. It stands to reason that these digital natives would come to expect the same tools they are familiar with to be available in the classroom. To achieve optimal learning outcomes, a change in teaching methods will be necessary, complemented by the vast range of educational technology available in the market.

This issue is especially pertinent to APAC, with approximately 60% of the world’s millennials expected to live in Asia by 2020 according to Accenture. Mirroring what is happening in the enterprise space, I anticipate digitalisation to sweep through through campuses in APAC in 2018, moving up the IT agenda as digital transformation strategies take root across the region.

Indeed, educational institutions across APAC and the world are undertaking significant transformation efforts to enhance the student experience. Here are my thoughts on some of those enhancements that I foresee taking centre stage over the coming year in the education sector:

Data-led student intervention
There has been significant groundwork around the creation of systems and standards to facilitate the collection of student data for intervention and retention purposes. Standards such as xAPI and IMS Caliper are important because they allow data to flow between systems in a standardized way. Without this data flow, it wouldn’t be possible to make sense of the vast tracts of siloed student data.

The good news is that a growing number of vendors have already adopted these standards and are creating ed-tech tools that wrap intelligence around the data – for example, to determine how well individual students are doing, where they are struggling, and how they can be helped to improve on their scores.

For instance, a study by Teachers’ Magazine found Catholic schools in Western Australia to have employed data walls – a strategy involving visually representing student progress for easy monitoring by educators – to great success, with several institutions reporting improved student outcomes. Similarly, Singapore’s Ministry of Education also found an increasingly number of schools in the city-state to be experimenting with technology for teaching, with educators leveraging technology to track learning outcomes.

However, such tools will be a precursor to more intelligent ones that will feature more granular levels of personalization, as well as predictive capabilities that can help to flag up potential issues so they can be acted upon promptly.

In fact, we are already seeing the availability of some early predictive tools that model large cohorts of data and then overlay students’ first term grades to predict outcomes. For example, the results may show that student A has only a 70% chance of graduating in economics, but a 95% chance of graduating in accounting & finance were he/she to switch courses.

Rethinking classroom design
The move to digital campuses makes it possible to rethink the traditional classroom design and inject more flexibility. This is what Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is doing with its recently built learning hub known as ‘The Hive’. Its classrooms are designed for active learning supplemented by technology, coming equipped with flexible seating and digital, audio-visual communication tools to enhance learning experiences.

Indiana University (IU) in the US is taking things a step further with its active and collaborative learning initiative, Mosaic. I’m not just talking about moving walls and furniture but about adapting rooms with digital apparatus on the fly.

At IU, classrooms are refashioned depending on the use case – for example, instructional teaching, collaboration or student presentations. By adopting a flexible classroom model, educational institutions will be able to deploy cameras and screens quickly and easily for things like: projecting content onto walls, filming student presentations, and displaying group work to other teams.

The consumerisation of VR
At a recent trade show, Pearson displayed Virtual Reality (VR) content and a pair of VR goggles on its stand – and no books. That says a lot. Content used to be primarily text and images with a few educational videos thrown in for good measure, but the notion of what constitutes content has shifted radically – and now includes virtual spaces.

I foresee VR featuring strongly in the education sector in 2018 by virtue of its sheer potential. The immersive nature of VR makes it highly suited for educational purposes, for any subject. Using VR, educators are able to digitally transport learners to distant locales that may be prohibitively expensive, inaccessible, or dangerous.

Educational institutions across the world are leveraging VR technologies to enhance teaching and learning. A key example would be the use of these technologies by vocational educators in Hong Kong, where VR is used to to create realistic simulations of workplace environments to provide a hands-on learning experience without compromising safety.

Many VR experiences already exist for free (or for a small sum) on the web. With falling costs of adoption as VR technology matures, we’re likely to see more universities building them from scratch. Some higher education establishments in the US have already launched VR labs where students can capture and edit VR-based projects, especially in the arts (e.g. dance, music).

Learning to be digital citizens
In a digital world where everyone’s voice is equal, the best production wins – even if it has been created by someone wishing to do harm and/or someone with no authority.

Moving ahead into the new year, I expect to see a higher emphasis across the education spectrum on teaching the younger generation how to be good digital citizens. This entails educating them not only on the use of digital creation tools, but also on the ethics involved – appropriate behaviour online and how to distinguish the fake news from the genuine content.

Moving ahead
The recently concluded Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study determined a that APAC’s education sector displayed a clear sense of urgency in embracing digitisation. Despite this fact, only 23% of respondents stated that they had a digital strategy in place.

These findings clearly indicate that the APAC education sector still has a long way to catch up to their Western counterparts in embracing the digital revolution. However, if the current state of things is any indication, we can look forward to exciting times indeed.

About Jeff Rubenstein
Jeff Rubenstein is the Vice President of Global Product Strategy and Business Development for Kaltura, Inc. He has held senior roles in a number of educational and technology companies, including 2U and Wimba (prior to the Blackboard acquisition). He works with a number of other companies and standards bodies on learning interoperability standards, and how to create and measure engagement in rich media experiences.

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Education Technology Solutions
Education Technology Solutions has been created to inspire and encourage the use of technology in education. Through its content, Education Technology Solutions seeks to showcase cutting edge products and practices with a view to expanding the boundaries and raising the standards of education curricula. It introduces teachers and IT staff to the latest products, services and developments in education technology with a view to providing practical how-to guidance designed to facilitate the integration of those products and services into the school environment in the most productive and beneficial manner possible.

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