We are living in the midst of an ever-evolving digital age that is changing the way we view, explore and interact with the world around us, exponentially.
Across industries, the rise of digital has served to enhance a number of industries, bestowing them with greater vision, autonomy and intelligence - and the educational sector is no exception.
The emergence of edtech has taken learning away from the rigid, linear, one-size-fits-all educational models of yesteryear and instead, move towards a brave new world of more flexible, personalized learning driven by the evolution of technology.
Edtech currently contributes £1 billion to the UK economy alone the United Kingdom per year, with an excess of 1,000 education technology startups currently operating in Great Britain. Moreover, the global edtech economy is expected to rise to $252 billion by the year 2020.
With this new phenomenon in learning currently going from strength to strength, here we explore four real-world examples of edtech in action to put its potential to enhance and enrich the learning experience into practical perspective.
Western University of Health Science - immersive learning
As immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) become a tangible part of our everyday lives, these developments offer a wealth of learning opportunities across fields, niches and subject matter.
To enhance its educational offerings, the Western University of Health Science harnessed the power of VR to create an immersive learning experience for its students in the field of criminal science, healthcare, agriculture and fine arts.
Hosted within its J and K Virtual Reality Learning Center, the one the institution's primary innovations comes in the form of a virtual dissection table to help its students understand human anatomical functions in greater depth by moving layers of virtual tissue to explore more than 300 anatomical visualizations, developed using scans of genuine patients and cadavers.
Not only has this cutting-edge use of edtech replaced the necessity for real-life cadavers, cutting costs and increasing accessibility, but the universities innovative has pioneered the health education market with reports stating that the Western University of Health Science is teaching the 'medical students of the future.'
MIT - mobile technology
Mobile devices offer users the freedom and flexibility to conduct tasks, connect with peers and consume content wherever they may be in the world.
Studies suggest that for every eight minutes a user spends on smartphones, seven of those minutes are spent in apps. A leading institute in technology, MIT launched an all-encompassing mobile application to enrich the overall day to day experience of their students.
With the ability to customize the app to individual needs and requirements, MIT’s student-centric mobile app offers insights into transport links, the latest campus news, events, emergency protocols, valuable campus resources, dining, tours and a function that allows students to explore the campus’ various library resources before physically entering the building.
Moreover, the app also includes a comprehensive people directory that consists of the contact information of key personnel and lecturers for students to use as and when they need.
By offering a wealth of resources in one space, MIT has helped to inspire engagement, boost student morale and increase connectivity by harnessing the power of mobile technology which in turn, has enhanced the educational experiences of their students in a positive way - a testament to the power of mobile technology in education.
At present, students find mobile apps useful but crave more personalization - and the MIT's app customizable functionality is a prime example of an educational aid that provides value in the modern age.
University of Birmingham - active
The evolution of digital technology has significantly improved distance learning and its potential to provide a educational experience that is not only tailored to the individual, but makes the pursuit of continuous learning more feasible for learners across subjects and industries.
Moreover, as edtech concepts become all the more sophisticated, there is an ever-growing potential to create active learning experiences in the classroom environment - learning models that engage both the teacher and the students in a particular task, activity or competency.
To add an additional layer of value to its contemporary literature programs, forward-thinking lecturers at the University of Birmingham have used an interactive video learning platform to provide invaluable, tailored feedback to many of its students.
By providing visually digestible video-based feedback coupled with captions and audio commentary, Dr Daniel Moore and his colleagues have not only contributed their students with practical feedback that they can recount at their leisure but this pioneering use of edtech has served to reduce the department's student feedback processes by 10 - 25%.
“An overwhelming number of students said that their feedback felt more personal, focused on specific issues in concrete terms and offered practical advice that they could take forward...Another key benefit for students was the ability to gain insight into the marking process and see their work through an academic’s eyes. Over time, they are also able to spot patterns in their feedback, as all videos are stored within the VLE.” - Dr. Daniel Moore
Macquarie University - Gamification
Gamification is a concept that not only has the power of driving engagement in the classroom but something that has the potential to revolutionize the assessment process in education, focusing on a student's practical competency as opposed to placing emphasis on theoretical examinations alone.
53% of technology stakeholders project that by 2020, the use of gamification will be widespread - a clear indication of its rising popularity in both the classroom and workplace.
One of the world's leading institutes for gamification as a learning tool is the Macquarie University based in Sydney, Australia.
A pioneer in using technology-driven games - or interactive task-based initiatives - to enhance the learning experience, the university launched their initial offering, 'The Reading Game' back in 2013.
Due to its success, the institution has added a host of new, innovative games to its portfolio over the years, including favorites such as the 'Venn Card Game' and 'Citizen 66' - a fiction-based development aimed at aiding creative thinking and logical decision-making.
A recent survey conducted by the university discovered that around 75% of students found these gamification developments useful and enjoyable, findings that suggest that gamification is a concept that has a bright and prosperous future in the educational sector.
It’s an exciting time for education and from these four inspiring examples alone, it’s not difficult to comprehend that by embracing technology, its possible provide a valuable, rewarding and productive experience regardless of subject matter, status or background.
For more insights into technology and learning, explore these 6 essential edtech trends that educators need to know about.