What will schools really look like in the future?


29 / 10 / 21 - 4 minute read

Richard van Hooijdonk, an author and authority on new technology and an international keynote speaker, explains how digital education methods will prevail long after the dust settles from the pandemic.

It’s back to school time - and not just after your standard school break. Many children haven’t set foot in a school for 18 months after COVID-19 put classroom teaching on hold. Yet, the global pandemic has given us a chance to step back, reimagine and innovate secondary education. From now on, digital methods are set to dominate in the classroom and breathe new life into learning.

The initial impacts of COVID-19 forced schools to close worldwide, affecting around 1.6 billion learners socially, emotionally and in terms of academic progress. Those who had the means switched to online learning as educators scrambled for global education technology (edtech) solutions to keep on teaching pupils. This trend is set to continue. By 2025, the overall market for online education is tipped to reach $350 billion (€296 billion) as a major tech-driven transformation will forever change how students learn and teachers teach.

Author

Richard van Hooijdink


Typical classrooms already look different. Fewer pupils per classroom, social distancing, and face masks are now standard features. With the threat of having to co-exist permanently with COVID-19 or confront an even worse pandemic in the future, educators now need to adjust their teaching methods permanently.

Dr. Junaid Mubeen, a research mathematician and director at Whizz Education, sees edtech as a must in a post-pandemic world. “The pandemic has exposed the inflexibility of our education system, and students face countless threats to learning: illness, poverty, the passing of loved ones and, indeed, pandemics; let’s not assume COVID-19 is the last. Flexibility must be ingrained in education systems. Learning must be resilient to the inevitable disruptions faced by students in an increasingly volatile world,” says Mubeen.

We now need to radically rethink our entire educational system to equip tomorrow’s learners with the necessary skillset to succeed. Emerging tech, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI), will play an increasingly prominent role in secondary education and create a more engaging learning environment. Technological tools can tailor content according to individual needs, enabling students to reach their full potential while encouraging essential lifelong learning.

“Research shows that immersive media such as augmented reality (AR) can enhance knowledge retention”

Dr. Junaid Mubeen, Whizz Education

A hybrid approach for post-pandemic learning

In future, secondary schools will likely adopt a hybrid approach to teaching, blending traditional classroom learning with online activities. After all, when done correctly, online learning can teach students valuable skills for the modern workplace, such as self-motivation and self-discipline, points out education consulting organisation, Study International.

Tech giant Apple has already updated its schoolwork and classroom apps to support post-pandemic learning. New features enable educators to create handouts, provide real-time feedback and view a student’s screen.

For sure, students will need to master essential STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to succeed in tomorrow’s world. Silicon Valley-based AI start-up Volley uses AI to identify learners’ knowledge gaps and generate courses to fill those gaps. Texas-based Querium also creates personalised STEM lessons and provides feedback to assist learners.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts-based Nuance has introduced a speech recognition tool to help students and teachers talk to their computer and turn voice into text three times faster than people can type. This should help learners with disabilities improve their reading, writing and spelling skills.

Research shows that immersive media such as augmented reality (AR) can enhance knowledge retention. London-based Blippar uses AR to make static images come to life and overlay digital content onto real-world surroundings to change the way students learn about subjects such as biology, physics or geography.

In addition, Edtech company Edsights has released a free chatbot to allow students to easily communicate with university educators and connect with campus resources, which proved particularly valuable during the isolation brought by COVID-19.

Edsights has released a free chatbot to allow students to easily communicate with university educators and connect with campus resources

Learning all things digital

COVID-19 has sped up the adoption of digital learning – in fact, by about five years, according to Jacqueline Daniell, chief executive of educational services company Wey Education. “The pandemic has proved the benefits and opportunities of virtual learning, and it has also shown parents and children alternative ways of learning beyond bricks-and-mortar classrooms.”

Overall, the pandemic has taught us many valuable lessons about education. Essentially it has highlighted the benefits of alternative ways of learning and the opportunities presented by virtual learning. This has prompted a radical shift in the way that we approach education. As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, many temporary digital educational solutions will become permanent features as digital education becomes an established part of secondary school education.

“The pandemic has proved the benefits and opportunities of virtual learning ...”

Jacqueline Daniell, Chief Executive of Educational Services

Richard van Hooijdink

Richard van Hooijdink is the CEO of future-fo­cused intelligence agency Trendforce.one (www.trendforce.one). As a trendwatcher and futurist, Richard is in de­mand as an international keynote speaker and has presented to many prestigious or­ganisations, such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Samsung, Gartner, Interpol, the European Commission, PWC, Deloitte, Unilever, Huawei, NIKE and many more. Learn more at www.richardvanhooijdonk.com.