Back in January 2020, no one could have predicted that a pandemic would engulf the world and that our whole life would literally go online overnight. Most importantly, everyone realized that no matter what was going on in the world, learning must not stop. Schools had to adapt, retool, and master new technologies as quickly as possible. Teachers, parents, and children felt as if they were temporarily in the test mode of the future. EdTech projects (educational technology) were given the opportunity to assess the situation, analyze all the data and improve their own work as much as possible. We suggest that we use the examples of distance education that have already happened to date to see what we have now and how the learning process may change in the future.
The education would be distance
In 2020, the moment schools in different parts of the world switched to distance learning. And it became clear: in theory, everything sounded clear and easy, but in practice, most were not ready for it.
China was the first and undisputed leader in the rapid transition to online education. In just a few weeks, specialists managed to develop and launch the largest online platform for distance learning. Fifty million students from different regions of the country can use the platform free of charge at the same time.
Today’s experience shows that the online format of education is becoming an integral part of the classical school, while completely remote education is impossible – live contact is still necessary. Most likely, in the future the ratio of offline and online will simply change: some things will be more effective to move online – for example, automation of homework check. In general, any analytics is better collected online.
Despite the fact that we are almost back to normal, familiar life, this unique case of the worldwide transition to distance learning has shown the possibilities it will help provide students, teachers, schools, and the education system as a whole.
Gadgets would help education
Children and teenagers are ready for online education in many ways by now. They are familiar with gadgets from birth, they can type before they learn to write, and they instantly intuitively adapt to any electronic device. Using familiar and – even – favorite devices allow students to get even more involved in the learning process.
Today, more and more students and teachers are using videoconferencing systems, electronic educational platforms, books, textbooks, manuals, and other various applications that help in their studies.
Most interactive lessons and courses can easily be completed on a smartphone, a tablet. Gadgets are gradually becoming not the “enemy” of the teacher, distracting the child from the lessons, but an assistant. With the help of gadgets and interactive online assignments, and teachers make lessons more diverse, visualize information.
Education would be interactive
The interactivity of education is one of the main guarantees of its effectiveness. Classes at school are built on the constant interaction of the teacher with the student, which helps keep the student motivated. In the interactive format of dialogue, entire training courses are built to study mathematics, languages, the world around us, even chemistry and biology.
With the distance format, the big challenge for all online educational products is to create effective mechanics of engagement in the learning process and make sure that the student’s interest isn’t lost. That is, online tasks are not reduced to just automatic tests with “yes” and “no” answers, engaging dialogue and interaction between the system and the student: explanation of a new topic, repetition, and consolidation of the material is built. Interactive learning formats and gamification help in this.
Game mechanics or the so-called “gamification” have already been implemented in many spheres, such as retail, recruitment in companies, and, of course, education. It is actively used for business training, efficiency evaluation, and even for creating and adopting corporate values. Currently, such mechanics are actively being implemented for educational strategies, including in the largest universities in the world and in our country.
Education has long had, in a sense, elements of a game: good and bad grades for completing a task are like points in completing a quest. And at the end of another school year, everyone has a “Level Up” – the transition to the next level of difficulty.
In online projects, gamification is presented in a much more complex way. Originally built programs, combined, for example, with a detective story of the characters, make the learning process fascinating – children want to return to classes regularly and learn new things. They can earn points, points, additional encouragement and discover new levels for completing tasks, achieving goals, just like in a computer game.
In the gamified learning process, children can visually see their progress and the skills they have acquired. The theoretical knowledge that students gain in class can be applied immediately when they complete game-based challenges. This helps children look at knowledge and learning in general from a completely different angle.
The main benefit of gamified online learning is the motivation to learn. The student can see and self-evaluate their progress and achievement of their goals. This helps foster such qualities as independence, responsibility, and decision-making skills.
Education would be intellectual
Big data already allows us to solve the most important tasks today. For example, machine learning algorithms, based on the data obtained on the successes and failures of the student, have learned to build individual trajectories for studying school subjects and more.
Artificial intelligence can analyze how much time a child spends in class, how much they spend on homework, where they most often make mistakes, and measure their real knowledge. Based on this, the student can be selected personal tasks in order to improve performance and increase knowledge. It means that online learning is already an individual approach to education, to the peculiarities and abilities of each child.
On India’s Byju’s platform, the largest EdTech project in the world, learning assignments are presented in the format of animated cards and exciting “live” tests. Also, each student has their own learning trajectory, which displays the path they have taken and the time they have spent on the tasks.
Many EdTech-projects aim to help not only students, but also teachers: to redistribute time from routine to creative tasks and individual approach. Teachers have automatic checking of assignments, as well as constant observation and analysis of each student’s progress and successes. The British Project Century, for example, is designed to inform the teacher about the progress of each student and to give recommendations for building further work.
Experts say that in the very near future data-driven individualization is ready to go a step further. Systems will learn to select and recommend courses, assignments, and even different teaching methods based on more than just how a student is doing in the curriculum. Perhaps each student’s learning recommendations will be based on their interests, favorite sports, computer games, past or upcoming trips and travels, and social skills. The British project ClassCharts, for example, already suggests the optimal seating plan for students in class, guided by the analysis of obtained data. Artificial intelligence analyzes students’ abilities and performance, how they influence and interact with each other, and looks for optimal work patterns in pairs and groups.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the past year has shown that education is the sphere that first of all adapts to the changes taking place in the world. Therefore, it is safe to say that the current situation will undoubtedly lead to changes in the behavior and habits of students and teachers alike, and to the evolution of the educational system around the world.