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Five by five: How education might change by 2023

Over the past decade, there have been so many advancements in science and technology improving education that it has been hard to keep track. With omnipresent internet access in most countries, young people have access to a near infinite amount of free learning materials. So, with BETT 2018 taking place this week, what better time to look at how technology is redefining the learning experience and what the world of academia might look like in five years time.

Students will interact remotely: Why do so many classrooms look practically identical to those of thirty years ago? Of course, we now have computers and BYOD is becoming increasingly prevalent but bar some exciting exceptions, schools are one of the few institutions in modern life that have not seen radical changes spurred by technology. Yet, companies like Century Tech are looking to change that by helping students reach beyond the walls of their classrooms to interact with other students and teachers. We’re looking forward to hearing the founder, Priya Lakhani, talk about creating a 21st Century rounded education to help young people to fall back in love with learning again.

The value of a degree will change: Jake Schwartz, CEO and cofounder of General Assembly, claims that the pressure to keep tuition fees low, paired with an increasing population living with crippling debt, threatens the sustainability of institutions that are dependent on tuition. His argument is that the ever-expanding gap between education and employment will force innovation and creativity on resistant higher education institutions forcing them to look at offering attractive training to students for an evolving workforce. Mark Hamilton of Jisc, which focuses on digital solutions for UK ed and research, will be talking about the changing student experience and how innovative university leaders are developing new approaches to the future of higher education.

Pages will come to life: From wearables like Google glasses to augmented reality contact lenses, students will have Archimedes sitting at their desks explaining the laws of displacement. How could you not enjoy that? Eventually, pupils will project their smartphones to the textbook and start a virtual reality experience, where they can interact with the cavemen or check out the surface of Mars. We’re looking forward to seeing what companies like Kitaboo and Actiphons have to offer. We’ll also be taking in a talk from 3D4Medical about how augmented reality is revolutionising how we teach and learn, through a case study on anatomy education.

Classroom will stop looking the same: Forget the rows of chairs and desks from which students focus intently on the teacher and a whiteboard. Seating arrangements in the future will be flexible so that they are appropriate for the task that students are working on. This will include changes like standing desks for students who have difficulty maintaining focus while sitting, to private workstations for individual tasks split with collaborative workspaces will be available for group projects. Ian Phillips, Assistant Head and Director of ICT for Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School is talking about exactly this – creating an immersive and interactive classroom experience enables teachers to engage with their students in new ways that advance creativity, participation and imagination.

Flexible exams will accommodate multiple learning styles: In the majority of classrooms, students all complete the same homework. The only time when exceptions are made (usually) is when a student has special needs and accommodations are required. This ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t take into consideration learning styles, which is where flexible and innovative homework platforms come in. Instead of passing out homework to write a paper, the teacher will outline for pupils what skills or understanding they must demonstrate to successfully complete the assignment. The student will then be given the autonomy to decide how they will do that. Two companies doing this we’re looking forward to hearing from are Doodle and Satchel.

Technology will certainly be a major factor in how education in the future differs from education today. However, it won’t be the only influence. Successful educators will rethink the entire model of education and redesign it so that it is more student-centered. This means adopting new technologies, but it also means giving up existing attitudes about what constitutes educational success. In that sense, we can’t wait to see what BETT 2018 has in store.

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