You would be hard-pressed to think of an aspect of your life that has not been impacted in some way by technology. It has completely and irrevocably changed the way we interact with the world and each other. In fact, the only thing more transformative than the technology we currently have at our disposal is the technology yet to come. While much of that next wave of innovation has yet to be realized, there are already some next-generation technologies that are making their presence known. This is why we refer to them as emerging technologies.
Emerging Technology 101
In most instances, the term emerging technologies refers to technologies whose development and practical applications are not yet fully realized, such as gene therapy, nanotechnology, robotics, and stem-cell therapy. However, the term can also refer to technologies that, while not yet in the mainstream, are currently being used and growing in popularity. One such area where emerging technology is having a revolutionary effect is education.
The Educational Shift to Emerging Technology
One reason behind the growing popularity of emerging technology in the education space is the most obvious: it creates better teaching and learning experiences that result in more effective education. Specifically, emerging technology:
- Enables teachers to address diverse learning styles, so students can learn in their own space and at their own pace.
- Has made it possible for teachers and students to stay connected despite geographic distance (and a pandemic) so they can instruct and learn collaboratively.
- Makes learning more fun and exciting for students, which, in turn, makes them more likely to be active participants in their own education.
- Increases a student’s ability to retain information longer and with greater accuracy.
Emerging Technology Is Now a Selling Point
There’s another reason for the growing popularity of emerging technology in the education industry that is less talked about, but is definitely part of the equation. It has to do with competition.
As with all industries, education is highly competitive, particularly at the college level. Schools are in a constant battle to attract new students and retain existing ones. So, what’s driving all of this collegiate competition?
Many of today’s college applicants are part of what’s referred to as the “Echo Boom” – kids of Baby Boomers and beyond. Thirty years ago, half of high school graduates were applying to college. Today, almost two-thirds of all high school graduates are applying to college¹ and there are thousands of colleges and universities that do everything in their power to attract those high-school grads. One of the things more and more schools are starting to do is invest in emerging technologies.
Investing in emerging technology will shape a student’s perception of how forward-thinking the institution is, and whether they’re at the cutting edge of technology advancements. Consequently, universities making that investment stand to attract more of the best students (and donors with deep pockets). Besides, students expect technology to play a big part in their education experience. They’re used to using technology in their everyday lives and have the same expectation when it comes to their university education.
In other words, universities need to invest now in emerging technologies to make sure that they are not left behind.²
According to the World Economic Forum, the educational technology market is
projected to expand to $342 billion by 2025.³
The Emerging Technologies at the Head of the Class
There are many different types of emerging technologies. Here are some of the more popular ones that are currently being used within the education industry:
In simple terms, augmented reality, or AR, is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where objects that reside in the real world are “augmented” by computer-generated information. Teachers can use augmented reality to teach abstract and complex concepts because AR allows students to visually see complex 3D models rather than imagining them in their minds. AR also increases the student’s level of engagement and interaction with their lessons.
Machine Learning is being used in several aspects of the education system, including:
- Personalized Learning – As we all know, every student has a different pace and preferred method of learning. Machine Learning controls this problem by analyzing the potential and needs of every student. It collects data from learning management software and recommends the best possible study materials and ways of learning for each individual student.
- School Administration – Machine Learning can help school teachers and administrators with such time-consuming activities as evaluating essays, measuring student responses, creating the syllabus, etc. Artificial intelligence can also help to identify academically struggling students and instruct teachers to give special focus to that student.
- Grading Automation – Machine Learning-controlled software can analyze and grade written essays effectively and instantly, giving time back to teachers so they can focus more on providing one-on-one interactions with students. With this technology, test results can be published within minutes after the test concludes.
Virtual and Remote Laboratories
These are web applications that simulate the operations of real laboratories. Virtual labs can be accessed anywhere and enable students to practice in a safe environment before using the real, physical components of a laboratory. In one study, more than 80% of students who used virtual laboratories had higher test scores than those in a control group.
This invaluable technology allows educators to measure and report student learning. By uncovering insights from students’ learning processes, they can improve the knowledge and skill acquisition of their students accordingly. For example, teachers are able to see what type of information – text, images, infographics, or videos – a student enjoys the most and use it more in future lessons. It can also be used to identify students who may have academic or behavioral challenges.
Benefits Beyond The Classroom
There are numerous direct benefits for students as a result of incorporating emerging technologies into their academic careers. There are also intangible benefits that are every bit as important, such as:
Technology helps build relationships amongst students, whether those students sit in the same classroom or on opposite sides of the world. It gives young people the opportunity to share experiences and perspectives which not only expands their minds but prepares them for meeting different people as they move through their academic and eventually, professional careers.
Without exposure to technology, students could lack the technical skills that will likely play an integral part in their future careers. Being exposed to technology in grade school, high school, and in college will allow more doors to remain open for them when the time comes to establish and grow their careers.
Learning how to work together with others is of vital importance, both in a career and in life in general. Technology helps students collaborate and gets them used to interacting with others. Technology also gives shy students a voice with which they can make themselves heard, answer and ask questions, and contribute in ways they otherwise may not have had the confidence or ability to.
Emerging Technology in Action
The adoption of emerging technologies by educational institutions is growing by the day, as does PeakActivity’s unwavering commitment to innovation. As a recognized leader in emerging technologies and in the education space, we’re helping our clients and partners leverage these powerful tools to their fullest potential, such as:
Palm Beach County School District
PeakActivity’s emerging technology department will facilitate a 12-week long technical training workshop with Magic Leap headsets and unity programming for a group of 15 Palm Beach County school teachers. This initiative aims to infuse augmented reality technology into a suite of career and technical education courses. The goal is to foster technical knowledge of the headset’s capabilities and, ultimately, support the teachers in publishing augmented reality experiences into the headset for enhanced learning.
Nova Southeastern University
PeakActivity is conceiving and creating augmented reality experiences for Nova Southeastern University to use in their education and training around cybersecurity. The AR experiences will be used at the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation to further the education of NSU students and future entrepreneurs around the topics of business, innovation, and technology related to cybersecurity.
Florida Atlantic University
PeakActivity is currently working with three different student-run engineering and computer science groups focused on real world use cases utilizing machine learning, augmented reality, and spatial computing. The technologies are being used to resolve common issues like object identification, visual recognition, and extended education/self-paced education.
A Lesson for Us All
Emerging technology is helping students get the most out of their education, empowering teachers to reimagine all that the classroom experience can be, and assisting schools in operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. At the end of the day, though, what the growing proliferation of emerging technology in education teaches us is this: there is always more to be learned.
Are you interested in learning more about PeakActivity’s Digital Innovation capabilities? Fill out the form below to hear directly from a Peakster, or visit our website for more information.
³ American University, 2020