Six Edtech Trends For 2018

Blockchain-based degree certificates from the world’s top-ranked university. VR storytelling to inspire cross-cultural empathy in schoolchildren of the Trump era. A robot teaching assistant developed by a UCL professor and brilliantly named Colin. Nobody needs reminding that 2017 was another big year in edtech innovation.

This time last January, I asked a range of experts for their predictions for the year ahead, which you can read here in the HuffPost. It’s always fun to reflect on past predictions and think about how we might prepare for the year ahead, so I’ve done the same again. Here are six of the best:

1. Speech and voice recognition
“We’ve already adopted Siri, Alexa and Google into our homes at a scary rate, and the quality of speech recognition and generation is rapidly approaching undetectable from humans” says Geoff Stead, Director of Digital at Cambridge English“We’re already using this to support language learning, but I can’t see why this shouldn’t leap rapidly into the mainstream, overtaking all the discussion about bots”

2. Fairer exam grading through adaptive comparative judgement and online proctoring platforms
Early adopting schools and universities are already experimenting with adaptive comparative judgement as an alternative to traditionally time-consuming grading methods. Based around the idea that we’re better at making relative (rather than absolute) judgements, this model can save time spent marking and result in more accurate grading.

Presented with successive pairs of work on their screen, an educator quickly decides which is better and enters a judgement. The technology then produces a scaled rank order of student results without any further teacher input.

Already used by leading UK examination boards, many predict that adaptive comparative judgement will soon become the preferred model for all summative assessments.We’re also seeing a greater use of online exam proctoring or invigilation platforms that offer opportunities for anonymised marking and grading. This supports educators to overcome implicit bias when evaluating student work, resulting in a fairer examination system for all.

3. Greater use of AI in the classroom
“I think we’ll see a greater use of AI tutors, assistants and teachers to deliver personalised instruction and save time on administration tasks” says Edtech X co-founder, Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet.

He adds that “’Bot’ the classroom will replace ‘flip’ the classroom”, referencing the move towards flipped learning approaches whereby the traditional classroom model is reversed, with students accessing various forms of learning content prior to class.

“I think we’ll see more automation of routine tasks, freeing up teachers to teach” – Sophie Bailey, founder and presenter of The Edtech Podcast.

​4. Non-traditional models of learning and accreditation
“2018 will see more curation, relevance and contextual search” says Alan Greenberg, CBDO at WideCells Group and former Director of Apple Education EMEA “We’ll also see greater accreditation of the content to be learnt from and accreditation of our learning: both Continued Professional Development (CPD) and life-long learning”

“The day of monolithic online learning platforms has passed” adds Geoff Stead “We already learn eclectically, across multiple platforms, networks and tools. Learning platforms of the future understand and embrace this evolving diversity.”

5. Better use of school data
“Schools moving to a cloud-based MIS will be the biggest change. This will transform how they utilise data, moving from storing it in spreadsheets and separate platforms, to centralise it in one place” says Jay Ashcroft, author of ‘Reboot: How we must rethink the use of technology in education to truly revolutionise schools’
“We’ll also see better analytics and trend analysis of what actually works in the classrooms”

6. More schools to incorporate a dedicated makerspace
Maker education emphasises problem-based approaches and hands-on learning experiences to develop 21st-century skills through innovation and collaboration. Some schools now offer physical spaces where students can work on their own projects to build skills related to the STEM agenda.

“My prediction is that we’ll see more making as a pedagogy, so students use design thinking and maker tools to innovate solutions”Edutech founder, Shameema Parveen.

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