There were a lot of changes in the educational sector for the past decade. However, the last year’s COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a real ed-tech boom having completely changed the learning process as we used to see it.
Followed by school closures across the world, teachers had to switch from traditional face-to-face interaction to over-the-computer communication if they wanted to keep the education going.
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Traditional classroom discussions were replaced by video conferencing calls. Paper notes and logbooks gave way to learning management software.
While a so much hated teacher’s “Alex, stop sleeping in the lesson” was updated to elaborate biometric cameras and programs tracking a student’s focus and involvement.
In this article, you will read about top ed-tech technologies that emerged for the past corona-clouded year, as well as find out our broadcast as to what we should expect in the future. Let’s begin!
Learning Management Systems
As soon as learning was transferred to an online space, it has become clear that traditional paper-based notes were no longer effective in the new circumstances. That’s where learning management systems came into play.
In their essence, they help educators to cope with most of their online tasks such as delivering lessons, sharing learning materials, and grading students’ assignments.
They work as a centralized hub where teachers can find necessary tools and features to run an online, mixed, or face-to-face classroom, track the academic progress of their learners, and even stay in touch with the parents.
For instance, a Florida-based company Nearpod is offering an LMS platform where teachers can embed pop quizzes and VR field trips in their lessons.
Their competitor Top Hat, on the other hand, provides a more management-oriented platform where teachers can share media files, create virtual classes, and make up targeted courses online.
And let’s not forget about Google Classroom that in the boom of the corona crisis, was a huge leg-up for hundreds of thousands of students and teachers across the world.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Different in their essence, both tools are now widely adopted in education to improve engagement and efficiency.
For instance with Google Expeditions students can take over 900 immersive trips, including the trip to the North Pole or seven wonders of the world. Additionally, it offers more than 100 AR tours ranging from space science and biology to ancient mythology and literature.
Another example is the UK-based company called MEL Science. With a science kit monthly subscription, the company offers to wade through the difficulties of physics and chemistry with ease and fun.
A Google Cardboard VR set is included in the first kit along with other necessary contents. To start learning, all you need to do is to download a MEL Science app and point the camera at the items available in the box.
VR tools are also widely used to educate students with learning difficulties, including severe autistic spectrum disorders, who can successfully apply the skills learned in a virtual environment for real-life situations.
In similar ways, augmented reality is applied to boost student skills in different fields. For example, with the mix of the HoloAnatomy AR app and Microsoft’s HoloLens, students can have a tour through a human body and learn about its anatomy first-hand, which would have been dangerous or even impossible in real conditions.
With the augmented reality of Aug That!, a solar system can be surfed far and wide without actually going to the open space. Students find out about the fundamental concepts in an engaging and fun way, and, more importantly, with no risk to their life and safety.
And who thought that electrical circuits could be so absorbing! Well, they are when you immerse yourself in the world of electricity. A zSpace’s tablet also provides AR/VR environments to teach math, technology, engineering, and other subjects.
Biometric and Face Recognition Systems
Originally developed as a security measure, biometric technologies are now widely used for a variety of educational purposes, such as tracking attendance, identifying if a student is attentive and focused enough, or, traditionally, ensuring safety and security on-campus.
For quite a while now, Singapore schools have been implementing biometric scanners to track student attendance and keeping their parents aware of whether their kids arrive in time.
In the US, however, NY Lockport City School District has become one of the pioneer schools that installed face recognition systems at their premises. Originally aimed at preventing crimes at schools, they killed two birds with one stone.
By capturing the faces of all entering and leaving the schools (and running them through the base), they could stay on top of the students’ attendance, as well as keep persons regarded as undesirable away from the school premises.
In a different way, biometric technologies were implemented in the Paris School of Business. Their program can scan and analyze eye movements and facial expressions of online learners and identify with maximum accuracy if they are interested and focused. And when they are not, the program notifies them and suggests a popped-up assignment to repeat the material they might have missed.
In doing so, they not only improved student engagement during the course but also 20% reduced the number of students willing to cheat and buy coursework online.
What Does the Future Hold?
Educational technologies have the power to take education and learning to a new level. They provide access to all the information available in the world and make it possible to study anytime and anywhere as long as you have an online connected device.
At the same time, they themselves hedge the educational path with difficulties, including accessibility issues, lack of concentration, digital literacy, as well as more severe problems like privacy violations for one.
This said, most likely, we will see more of a blistering implementation of ed-tech both for online and offline education in the nearest future, especially biometric and VR software. They will go hand-in-hand with privacy protection and accessibility improvement technologies.