How can educational institutions embrace new technologies?
Education has traditionally been just that—traditional. The sector has a history of hanging onto outdated practices and being slow to embrace change.
In part, institutions have been wary of jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to digital transformation.
The financial incentives to constantly revolutionise their ways of working aren’t as clear cut for school and universities as they might be for businesses.
But that is changing fast. The COVID-19 pandemic was unsurprisingly a catalyst, forcing companies across all sectors to re-evaluate their practices. This may have been the shakeup education needed.
But the changes go beyond merely responding to the pandemic. The education sector is now looking to innovate and change the face of learning for the benefit of educators and learners alike.
Here are some ways your school or university can make use of technology for digital transformation.
Improve access and inclusivity
While the pandemic forced the hand of many institutions, most will find they can still do more in terms of access and accessibility of their courses and learning. Even before COVID-19, over a third of college and university students took at least one online class.
As life returns to normal, continuing to offer and improve online courses will ensure students can get access to the best possible education wherever they live.
Recording lectures and lessons and offering this content later can make it possible for those with jobs or other commitments to fit learning into their schedule, rather than missing out on one or the other.
Technologies like dictation software and text-to-speech programmes can also make it easier for students with impairments to make the most of their classes.
Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality learning
While they may have started as gimmicks in the entertainment sector, VR and its sister technologies have the potential to turn lessons into more collaborative and interactive experiences.
Educational technology experts have even concluded that using VR can improve both visual and technological literacy. It’s easy to imagine the effectiveness of using these media to train students in a virtual environment that simulates locations in which they will go on to work.
Imagine a history course that can walk you through what life looked like in ancient Rome. Or a biology lesson where everyone has the same virtual frog to dissect—without the need for real specimens!
Collaborative learning spaces
Educational establishments have realised the need to prepare students for the reality of working life—and rarely does that mean sitting at a desk listening to someone talk.
Instead, classrooms are starting to mimic open-plan offices where collaboration and teamwork are encouraged.
Efficient resource planning
The more smoothly and cost-effectively schools and universities can operate, the greater emphasis they can place on students without needing to worry about the administrative side of things.
Artificial intelligence can be used to handle simple student queries, freeing up staff members to handle more complex or personal queries.
Smart shift scheduling tools can ensure that the right teachers and lecturers are where they need to be without the manual effort of updating and rewriting rotas.
And tapping into the Internet of Things will create smart campuses that make the best use of utilities and are comfortable and secure.
Also popular in corporate training, gamification is a way to make learning fun and thus more effective and memorable.
One key differentiating factor of gamified learning is that, unlike traditional tests that need to be submitted before the results can be returned, games offer instant feedback on students’ decisions. Take a wrong turn in a game and you usually know about it immediately.
Shortening the feedback loop in this way is effective at retaining concentration and keeping students playing, and learning, for longer.
A technological benefit that has revolutionised everything from email marketing to our shopping experience, personalisation can work wonders for learning as well.
Course content can be tailored to the level of each student, offering them a chance to learn at their own pace while the teachers’ time is freed up to help those that need special attention.
This will allow students at every level to achieve as much as possible. The most gifted students will be able to explore the most advanced topics while those struggling are given the time to understand the material without falling behind.
While recent global circumstances have accelerated the uptake of certain aspects of digital transformation, the education sector in general looks to have modernised its approach.
New technologies continue to emerge and the education sector looks set to continue to embrace innovation for the benefit of its employees and students alike.