COVID-19 affects all aspects of education in every corner around the globe called a historic shock to education systems during the pandemic. The education and the way we teach and learn has rapidly changed. By the COVID-19 pandemic the height of the crisis caused almost 1.6 billion primary, secondary, and undergraduate students in countries students worldwide, in 195 countries, were unable to use their classrooms and attend school.
The COVID-19 pandemic has set out a new kind of normal in different sectors, education being one of them. Schools were mostly closed, learning went digital and many students were denied educational opportunities, which in many countries left long-term social and economic consequences. Student teaching has been transformed through the Internet in the form of online learning as an alternative approach to education. There have been many serious downsides to it but thanks to many courses there were advances in online education and many of these teachers, students, and administrators were able to transition to virtual learning.
Figure 1. Number of countries with school closures due to COVID-19 Data covers the period between 17 February 2020 and 30 June 2020
Note: This figure covers educational institutions from early childhood education to tertiary education. Source: UNESCO (2020), COVID-19 educational disruption and response, https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse; Education at a Glance 2020, Figure D1.4
In this sense, the pandemic is also a call to renew the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Ensuring that all young people have the opportunity to succeed at school and develop their knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values.
The rise of Digital Transformation and Digitization from 2020-2022
The appearance and spread of the coronavirus at the end of 2019 and its effect on the disease, has accelerated investments in digital technologies and the digital transformation of education and society.
From 2020 to 2022 the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the digital transformation in the world. Digitalization opens up new possibilities for education that are more affordable than traditional education. Learning and technology innovations go hand in hand.
But before the pandemic, there was already high growth and adoption in education technology, with global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 billion by 2022.
The boom in online learning over the last few years has certainly been significant. The three areas of technology are already being used in education systems: artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, robots, and blockchain with a strong potential to accelerate worldwide development and support the education of the next generation of professionals. But for technology to really take off it has to be user-friendly.
The smart technologies that could transform education are already available but they are operating differently. The biggest educational technology trends of 2019 were Big Data, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Some of these tools are intelligent tutoring systems about the personalization of learning.
A new trend called Educational Technology (EdTech) is devoting technology to promoting education.The EdTech trend continue in 2020 and until 2021. and is revolutionized with a strong focus on student-centered learning in 2022. Technology support teachers allowing them to moderate teaching and learning in their class in real-time. A good example of the progress of smart technologies is AI, where robots support teachers as teaching assistants. They can support students to achieve better learning outcomes, and teachers to teach and learn better.
In the year since, digital education is done very effectively and more equitable learning opportunities are visible worldwide. More than a year later, new trends show that the combined force of online learning and remote work is creating a powerful opportunity to provide skills and knowledge. Whether it is video conference tools, virtual tutoring, language apps or online learning software there has been a significant surge in usage since COVID-19.
The integration of digital technology and innovation in education allows teachers to receive and provide real-time feedback, helping them also manage the transition between various tasks and learning approaches. Technology has seeped into education and renewed its whole teaching and learning process. Especially the top 10 current EdTech trends in 2020/2021: eLearning, Video-Assisted Learning, Blockchain Technology, Big Data Will Get Bigger, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Learning Analytics, Gamification, STEAM, Social Media In Learning.
In 2022 smart technologies that could transform education are already available for the future of education. The Top Educational Technology Trend since 2022: Custom Learning Experiences, Cloud Computing, Speech-To-Text Options, Virtual And Augmented Learning Experiences, 3D Printing, Learning Analytics called high tech approaches.
The edtech industry has seen steady growth since the pandemic. According to statistics, the global education technology market size was estimated at $237.6 billion in 2021, and it is expected to hit $998.4 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 17.3%. This explains the springing up of lots of new edtech startups, combining all kinds of innovative technology with education to give the best of online learning to students.
The entire traditional approach to education have changed. Today, technology has provided teachers and learners with a new and enhanced way of interacting during the learning process. So when we talk about educational technology trends we know that there is a lot to digest Online learning in the world brings many new challenges and perspectives. Some students without reliable internet access and/or technology struggle to participate in digital learning. For those who do have access to the right technology, there is evidence that learning online can be more effective in a number of ways.
Technology also enables students with special needs to participate in education and to make inclusive education a reality. The aim is to benefit fully from the curriculum with well-known applications such as speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and auto-captioning, students participate in traditional educational settings and practices.
Education is more inclusive and can provide additional learning opportunities to students from more disadvantaged groups where digitalization could bring more innovation to enjoy, access, and learn.
Three years prior to the pandemic, researchers found that only half of the teachers were enabling the frequent use of technology in student projects. In the current context, it is expected that more and more educators will look toward digital innovation. By bringing technology into the classroom and integrating solutions into learning, students who would potentially need more support in terms of teaching or the physical means of learning will have it.
Educators are in support of Edtech. Online learning has become more prominent so as to not interrupt students from attaining education. The result is thriving edtech companies that have been continuously churning out different apps that aid learning.
Changes in the education field had become a necessity. Technology has a permanent role in education and its role has only stepped up with time. From learning management systems and similar technology even before the pandemic to applications that support learning, edtech has now become mainstream.
So, today and in the future Edtech is the new normal. It is very important to make clear ideas and need to know how we can use smart technologies to advance learning and inclusion in schools, and help students and teachers achieve the best outcomes.
Prof. Nada Ratkovic
(Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics & Business and Tourism. Educator, Trainer, Writer, Reviewer, Social Activist)