Personalized Learning

What We Learned About the Future of Education From You

Since very early times in the history of humanity, education shaped our future. Nowadays, the fast pace imposed by the digital era impacts not only the way we work or run our day to day life, but also the way we learn. More and more we see how education is being transformed by technology to create new teaching models and inspire new ways of thinking, more adapted to our constantly changing society.

In order to better serve individuals and behaviours, education is challenged to constantly keep up with these changes.  This is all fueled by our constant search for knowledge, the multitude of communication channels and the enormous amount of information that surrounds us. In fact, our most recent IBM study emphasised the fact that education experiences will be improved when data can accompany the individual throughout their lifelong learning journey.

quiz

We wanted to know how YOU saw education evolving in the future, so we designed an interactive quiz to discover the views of people around the world. The task was simple: we let creativity run wild and asked respondents to predict what the classroom of the future would be like.

While our quiz sought mainly to gather the views of teachers, students, education management professionals, a number of other professionals most often from IT and marketing fields expressed their views as well – a clear sign that education is not only academia’s concern, but it’s a growing opportunity for businesses as well. Furthermore, parents expressed their views and hopeful predictions on how the classroom of the future will evolve and improve their children’ learning experience.

After analyzing their answers, we have a clearer idea of how individuals envision the future.

  • The classroom of the future will be … immersed in technology

Technology is probably the theme associated the most with the future of education. Digital tools, interactive assets, connected objects, mobile phones and cognitive assistants will enhance collaboration and allow students to meet colleagues and subject matter experts in virtual spaces, to learn at all time of the day.  Technology will allow information to be filtered according to need and ability, and recommendations will be made for a more engaging learning experience than ever before.

Students predict a digital future that is much more colourful and interactive, “with instant live demos and global connectivity at hand”, “a place for innovation full of machines that will improve the way we learn and the way we connect with the world we are studying in”.

There is a clear tendency towards personalized content through technology’s help. Cognitive and digital assistants are envisioned in order to receive instant answers to questions and recommendations for suitable courses and learning adapted based on individual’s strengths.

Both parents and teachers predict that “technology will follow students and be there to assist them on their journey, and assist educators to be the best guides and mentors for each individual student”. In their view, the classroom of the future will be “equipped with digital assistance that can help students with a question they are stumped on”.  As an education manager has put it, “I believe that everyone will have their very own personal digital assistant assisting in learning”.

The future may be a lot closer than we think. To mention only one example, IBM Watson-powered Cognitoys dinosaurs listen to children, answer questions, tell bedtime stories and help them learn with interactive games and stories.

However, the role of technology is not completely utopian and society and educators still need to address concerns around students’ use of technology and how it potentially interferes with their social skills, as well as the need for the adequate data privacy policies.

  • The classroom of the future will… not be confined to a single location

When it comes to location, the majority of our quiz respondents believe the classroom of the future won’t be confined to one single space.   “The classroom is dead, long live the classroom!”

The lines between physical and virtual will be blurred as parents, students and teachers expect “a learning environment where students go where they need, to experiment, to make, and to learn deeply.  Technology will follow students and be there to assist them on their journey, and assist educators to be the best guides and mentors for each individual student.”

Technology is again expected to play an important role in either enhancing physical spaces used for education purposes ( Augumented Reality ) or creating a totally immersive virtual reality, where students will have the amazing opportunity to  apply what they learned “ in the real world”: “I predict that the classroom of the future will be…highly animated, including virtual tours of locations – for example, natural reservations, cities, factories, fields, company offices, medicine ..etc”

We’ve already seen an increased preference for MOOCs and blended learning, and our quiz respondents confirm it: in the classroom of the future, classes will be digitsed and consumed remotely, tailored to student’s preferences.

  • The classroom of the future will be… interactive

It’s again the tech space that opens the door to infinite possibilities, where students have the opportunity to reinforce information, while actually enjoying the learning experience. Therefore, the classroom of the future will be highly interactive, “smart and fun environment, a place where you can ”try & learn” not only ”read and remember’. 

As professor Josefino Rivera (Buenos Aires, Argentina) puts it: “that’s what careers will require. Education will be not just taking in information and sharing it back, but also figuring out what to do with that information in the real world.”

  • The classroom of the future will be … personalized

Many of our respondents predicted that the education will be customized, tailored to the individual learning style, allowing students to grow in more ways than just intellect. Personalized learning will also feed those qualities and strengths that allow students to grow as a person and to be more prepared for the world we live in.

Teachers believe that the classroom should be “more interactive and enjoyable as a proper understanding of every child’s strong and weak points makes a better student as well as enhances the teacher’s ability.” Adapted content, based on children’s strengths and areas of interest is key for a successful learning experience.

All of this is possible with data. As one education manager predicted “all the data gathered about students’ preferences and progress would stimulate them and generate a tailored learning path”.

Technology and personalization go hand in hand. Data-driven cognitive systems will enable personalized education and improve outcomes for all, as our study “Personalised education – From curriculum to career with cognitive systems” showed. The newly launched cognitive app, Watson Element for Educators, that IBM built together with Apple is another example of how student data, academic performance, areas of interest, activities and behavior is empowering teachers with data-driven insights to better address individual needs.

When correlating the answers we received with our respondents’ roles, it is worth mentioning that education management professionals were more focused on location, online vs. physical classrooms, VR and AR technologies and the expectation of an immersive,  interactive classroom.

On the other hand, teachers and parents mentioned more the growing need of using technology to make learning more engaging, but expressed their views on the interactive classroom and the blurred lines of physical space as well. Students included in their predictions more views about location and technology, but the interactivity was part of their vision of the classroom of the future as well.

The comments you shared with us show a lot of optimism as well as high expectations on how the classroom of the future will be shaped by technology, a future that will make our mothers (they are both teachers), excited about the infinite teaching possibilities.

Of course, the right balance between human input and technology is expected, as well as discovering the right blend of channels and learning methods.

If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, here’s your chance to be heard!

Analyst, Industries Europe IOT, Market Development

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