Chief Digital Officer at Lenovo, helping Lenovo harness the disruptive technologies and processes fuelling Intelligent Transformation.
In recent years, the educational landscape has changed drastically with increased connectivity and technology that promotes outside-the-box thinking and innovation. Classrooms at all levels are evolving to meet this „new normal“ through virtual lessons, smart technology in schools and online access for students and parents.
Educators are embracing the symbiotic relationship between education and technology. A recent Gallup study shows that over 81% of teachers agree that they see great value in using digital learning tools in the classroom. In addition, 57% believe digital learning tools are more effective for personalizing instruction, with a large majority thinking these are more effective for engaging students with school and learning. And almost 90% of students who have grown up alongside technology are using digital tools at school at least a few days a week.
However, educational technology (EdTech) has made its most significant strides in the age of social distancing and learning from home. As a result, we can expect to see major opportunities in myriad areas along with challenges that will need to be addressed.
One of the biggest barriers to the universal adoption of EdTech stems from the lack of access to high-speed internet and hardware (e.g., laptops or tablets) that many underserved communities face. With the growing dependence on technology in and out of the classroom, this is a roadblock that needs to be addressed from all sectors, including federal, state and local governments and private sector investment.
One company that has scaled technology to be more accessible is Byju — which, according to CNBC, recently removed its remote learning application fee for students and has aimed to help „children in remote communities with poor access to high-quality teaching.“ The company’s learning app is a „subscription service offering short video content on core primary and secondary school curricula.“
Training For Educators That Personalizes Learning
School districts must prepare not only to implement new technology but also ensure teachers are properly trained to use EdTech and troubleshoot issues in a classroom or virtual setting.
Additionally, educators can identify ways to cater strategically to students at various levels of learning development. Devices, programs and software are constantly being created to offer smarter technology for all — providing opportunities for inclusive learning and leveling the playing field for those who have historically been left behind. EdTech Magazine notes that with virtual reality, for example, we have seen the positive affect this technology can have when working with students on the autism spectrum, providing „lifelike simulations that allow students to repeat behaviors multiple times before applying their learning in the real world.“ And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to VR.
As virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) become more widely accessible, look for schools to supercharge their curricula as they incorporate this technology into the classroom. Already, VR integration has proved to stimulate creativity among students, help them retain information and increase their engagement in the lesson.
At Lenovo, we’re creating VR technology capabilities that empower teachers and administrators to integrate VR into their curriculum easily, in ways that lead to more meaningful outcomes. For example, a VR field trip can take students into exotic locations like the Amazon rainforest to learn about ecology, zoology, biology and much more. With more than 1,000 virtual field trips to choose from, teachers can offer immersive experiences that would be impossible to create in real life.
A New Structure In Higher Ed
Many universities are not just leaning into technology but fully embracing it. As part of its learning special report, The New York Times highlighted the Sandbox ColLABorative, an arm of Southern New Hampshire University that allows students to explore innovative ideas to shape the future of college education. Through this partnership, university students have been able to test theories around learning languages using VR or incorporating AI teaching assistants. The current college-age generation that was born with technology at its fingertips will soon have the power to change secondary education as we know it.
Online Training During Covid-19
As we’ve seen schools, universities, educational centers and training facilities around the world close in-person activities, demand for tech that enables online learning has exploded.
However, it’s not just schools that are using digital learning. A wide range of industries is turning to virtual training out of both convenience and necessity. For example, health care organizations are training their professionals on contact tracing, and manufacturers are implementing online apprenticeships that provide distance-learning skills sessions that are enhanced with virtual reality capabilities.
As we continue to navigate what post-Covid-19 life looks like, it is important to recognize the emergence of more online training offerings moving forward.
The future of technology in the education sector is not only exciting but also empowering for educators and students from pre-K through Ph.D. Those of us in the tech sector have an important role to play not only in innovating and pushing the boundaries but also in ensuring that the incredible momentum of this time includes all communities and people.
Smarter technology for all is a belief that when everyone — regardless of race, culture, gender, sexuality, income, age or physical ability — has access to the limitless possibilities of technology, the future will be one that benefits us all.