Advancements in education technology are, for the most part, focused on three things:
- Making education more efficient, reducing costs for both students and institutions
- Making education more convenient for students, allowing for asynchronous learning to support classroom experiences
- Making students more successful, by using data analytics and AI to identify struggling students almost before they realize it themselves and provide instant access to real human support.
Efficiency and cost reduction are driving much of today’s technology adoption, because the ROI is direct and easy to quantify. Doing more with less certainly helps any organization serve its learners better.
However, the real value coming from future education technology advancements is more than just creating a cost-effective educational experience. Long-term institutional success comes as technology makes it easier and more convenient for educators to connect with and support students, and, through that high-touch experience, leads to better student outcomes and educational success.
Technology can improve the student experience by offering flexible, individualized tools that make learning more convenient and a better fit for busy lifestyles. It also leads to improved student outcomes and better student retention. New technology can deliver course materials to mobile devices, stream lectures online and on-demand, encourage student collaboration in virtual workrooms for online group projects, enable live group discussions, or provide an online interface for tutoring.
Student success is based on behavior. In higher ed specifically, success is based on adopting a complex sequence of behaviors for which students might not be naturally wired. Educational technology that facilitates behaviors we know leading to success are the key to the future of education. Gone are the days of a “sink or swim” mentality on the part of faculty. Educators with the proper data and tools can offer a rescue buoy and retain an otherwise struggling learner.
Among the many different aspects of successful behavior, education technology can encourage students to make better decisions – and help students who are unable to make those decisions easily.
- Smart institutions are researching and adopting technology tools that use data analytics and AI to identify struggling students almost before they realize it themselves. Once alerted, educators and advisors can immediately intervene with a human touch.
- Personalized, adaptive learning tools overcome the tendency of students to not raise their hands when they don’t understand the material by recognizing incomprehension in the moment. These tools can then lead those students to resources that offer greater insights or present lesson materials another way, when they may not have even considered seeking those additional resources on their own.
- In addition to being 24/7 and omniscient, ed tech will also need to be imperceptible, and act as a means to enable better person-to-person interaction. A PwC study in 2018 found that more than eight in 10 U.S. respondents said that even as technology improves, they will want to interact with a real person. More than half (55 percent) strongly disagreed that we don’t need humans for great customer experiences. As smart as we can make the tools, people still trust people more.
Education technology tools that will increase student success in a convenient, accessible way and enable professors to reach more students with less effort will prevail. The ed tech of the future will ask all the right questions—much like the Socratic Method of teaching that guides the student to the answers they seek.