Smartboard, clicker, and overhead projector. Before the beginning of the pandemic, when you thought of technology and education, you likely thought of these three examples.
Over the past year, the education space has been turned on its head with an influx of technology adoption like never before. As a result of the pandemic, education tech (edtech) has leapfrogged years ahead. While most educators at all levels were using technology in the classroom at arm’s length pre-March 2020, now technology has not only saved the education system but it’s redefined what the classroom looks like. (Hello, hybrid learning.)
In 2021, technology was truly a part of students’ and educators’ everyday lives across all levels – elementary, secondary, and post-secondary. With the introduction of hybrid learning, it was clear technology wouldn’t be going anywhere. The pandemic has given rise to tech tools and trends which may permanently alter the way education is delivered. Here are three ways technology has shaped education this past year.
Technology has opened doors to needs-based learning for students, empowering them to learn at their own pace.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption in education has accelerated during the pandemic, and for good reason. What’s great about the introduction of AI into the classroom is that it can work at any level and for any student.
When it comes to leveraging AI tools in elementary and high school, it supports students at any end of the spectrum by enabling them to learn at their own pace. Whether a student is struggling and falling behind or is excelling in a course but is bored and needs a challenge, AI-backed learning can help by adapting learning materials to students’ individual needs.
In university, classroom sizes range from hundreds to thousands, and students don’t always get the hands-on assistance they need. These types of smart technologies use algorithms to present students with clear how-tos to best work through the lessons. AI in post-secondary learning also provides students with helpful resources to tap into for further learning.
AI-backed learning apps have become more accessible than ever, and there are now free tools that are helping university students discover step-by-step solutions to problems as they’re working through them, like a virtual teaching assistant. When it comes to AI in education, the possibilities are limitless.
Technology has created a new space for peer-to-peer shared learning where students can turn to online communities for school-work support.
Education has never been confined to the four walls of a classroom. During the pandemic, online learning communities have thrived as a space for shared learning, and not necessarily in the traditional sense. The growth of social media and the rise of TikTok has inspired students to turn to social apps like TikTok for peer-to-peer homework help. It’s exciting to see students use the social media platform to create informal learning environments with their peers, as, in my experience, students learn best from each other.
Students can also find shared-learning support in online learning communities that focus on specific teaching subjects, like math. Maplesoft’s Maple Learn, helps students solve math problems instantly, and mimics a notebook, where students can work out problems line-by-line. If they get stuck, they can easily share their work with their educators or classmates on the platform they are using and ask for help. Online learning communities increase collaboration and deepen students’ understanding of concepts, all while cutting down on time.
Technology has evolved what classroom time looks like, increasing independent learning and leveraging in-class discussion and support.
Built on self-paced, student-centered learning, the flipped classroom rethinks the concept of homework and lectures, where lecture materials are digitized and class time is used for dialogue and collaboration. The pandemic has forced educators and students alike to adapt to this model through the use of online, digital environments.
This shift has also encouraged education systems to try new things, including adopting learning tools, such as Maple, which can support student curiosity and help inspire class discussion. It is safe to say the flipped classroom model is here to stay.
This past year has driven a deeper investment in edtech and drawn new attention to gaps in our current education system. How technology shaped the education system was bound to happen, but the pandemic forced all those involved to quickly get on board and there’s no turning back now.
Moving forward, we need to build on this momentum to provide new solutions that optimize the education experience for students and teachers. Not only to prepare for the possibility of another health crisis but to create learning environments that are better for everyone.
Karishma Punwani is the Director of Academic Products at Maplesoft.