The two industry experts share their views on new technologies that allow distance learning, and what educators need to know for the future.
Co-founder and CEO of Hoot Reading
Head of Google for Education
What do educators need to know about future trends in technology?
Carly Schuler: It is unlikely that hybrid learning models will disappear. While there is hope that life after the pandemic will return to normal, we have seen that educational institutions are adopting many new technologies that were previously only on the periphery and for future consideration – technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) ), artificial intelligence (AI) and deeper investments in hardware and software that allow distance learning. In particular, distance learning has given at least some technology into the hands of all students, including those studying at K12.
What’s interesting is that younger students (elementary school age) are actually reporting that they want to use digital learning tools more often than they currently have, according to a NewSchools report. This trend suggests that educators have the opportunity to better coordinate ways of implementing ed tech, especially through tools specifically designed to meet the needs of students in this age group.
Shantanu Sinha: At Google, we focus on creating technology to help teachers and students realize their personal potential. One area we are passionate about is adaptive learning technology, which uses AI to improve teacher learning and provide individual support to students – from helpful tips to relevant videos. Learning can often feel like an isolating, one-sided process, especially if you are a student who finds it difficult to answer a question or understand a new concept. We present a more interactive future where technology can help students gain support in the moment and strengthen confidence in their ability to learn new material.
How educators can prepare students for future technological trends?
CS: I think educators can provide training for students finding ways to normalize technology, specifically to use learning and improve learning outcomes. It is important that students know what learning time is compared to game time, given that both can be done with technology. For example, watching a video of your choice on YouTube is a completely different experience than an individual reading lesson, although both can be done on the same device.
Another thing educators need to know is the disparity in access to technology, despite future trends. While the introduction of more technology into our educational systems offers many benefits, the last thing we want to do is create bigger gaps and more inequalities in educational opportunities.
SS: Today’s students have more information on hand than ever before. This gives them an incredible opportunity to gain their own learning experience, whether it be to test extra YouTube videos or stroll through new geography using Google Maps, or delving into a whole new subject. That’s why digital literacy is so important. So we developed programs like Be great onlinewhich helps educators teach students how to be responsible digital citizens and stay safe online. In our Teacher’s CenterTeachers can explore a range of free content to help expand students ’digital knowledge, from CS Firstour free computer science curriculum to digital skills for future work.
What forms of technology were most useful during the pandemic, and how did they change the trajectory of education?
CS: I think the most useful form of technology was undoubtedly access to tutoring for students during the pandemic. Interruptions with the closure of schools combined with the learning curve associated with online learning have had a real impact on students, especially those in K-4 who are learning the most fundamental skills for future learning – literacy skills. This created a real problem throughout, but especially for students who had not had access to additional learning resources for the past two years.
Demand for training continues to accelerate, and we have seen that funds such as ESSER are specifically designed to address the loss of training caused by the pandemic. School districts have also created in their budgets articles on online tutoring tools and software, and it is clear that there has been a paradigm shift based on evidence that high-dose microlearning can help students recover some of what is lost.
SS: Training can take place anywhere and anytime. Nowhere was this more evident than during the pandemic, when students relied on technology to communicate with classmates, teachers, and content, regardless of whether they completed coursework on Google Classroomattending classes at Google Meetor learn something new on YouTube. If for the last two years we have been taught for some reason, it is because the concept of “school” can take different forms. Even as schools have returned to personal learning, it is clear that the role of technology in the classroom has changed forever. My team and I are excited to work with schools to explore what this means for the future, and together create the next generation of teaching and learning tools.