It’s safe to say the past few years have been far from smooth sailing for the education sector. And while this sadly shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, something more positive that continues to accelerate is the adoption of edtech. The number of firms, products and services in the edtech market has increased significantly over the last 10 years – with an influx particularly at the start of the pandemic to aid teaching and learning.
In its research report on the edtech market in England, the DfE identified more than 1,000 companies active in the edtech market in England, with edtech businesses generating £3.7 billion to £4.0 billion in gross value added (GVA) in 2021.
The report stated that schools were mixed in the extent to which they had embraced and embedded edtech over the years. Yet, the changes the pandemic posed, including a greater amount of face-to-face and remote teaching, meant that more schools had been propelled to increase and further embed edtech and to refine existing processes.
While a small number of schools interviewed continue to be cautious about using edtech, particularly for use in the classroom, the adoption has it seems, resulted in an overall shift in attitude toward the benefits of edtech. Google trends showed an increase in searches for the term ‘edtech’ between spring of 2021 and spring of 2022 (with the DfE stating word of mouth and web searches were the most common ways of finding edtech evidence). Now, almost three quarters (64 per cent) of schools in the UK are embedding technology in everyday teaching and learning practices, using it to transform teaching approaches and learning outcomes. From streamlining administration to personalising learning, there are many ways in which edtech can help teachers and staff improve efficiencies, drive engagement and promote better wellbeing.
With the education conference season upon us, including the world’s biggest edtech event, Bett 2023, the year is set to be an exciting time for technology and the power it holds to transform outcomes. This year, we’re likely to continue seeing an increase in the implementation of edtech, particularly around aiding learning loss, helping to reignite student interest and supporting wellbeing.
Many articles and research have already speculated on the top edtech trends for 2023, so let’s take a look at some of the most popular predictions – and whether these will indeed be hot topics at Bett and other education conferences in the months to come.
Artificial intelligence and personalised learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionise the way we learn and teach, as well as providing solutions for many challenges faced by the sector.
This data driven technology helps schools manage a wide range of tasks in a shorter time frame – particularly when it comes to assessing children’s progress, identifying skills gaps, and personalising individual learning journeys to address this. While the role of the teacher will always remain crucial, AI can be incredibly helpful in automating processes, taking away administrative burdens, evaluating learning patterns and enhancing efficiencies.
Personalised learning is key in aiding student development, supporting them to learn at their own pace by tailoring content and resources to students’ needs and abilities. It’s by no means a new education trend, but there’s likely to be a real emphasis on resources and platforms encompassing an individualised or personalised approach in 2023 to help with catch-up learning.
There are many AI platforms already available to schools, with many using this technology to support students post Covid-19. And while there have been questions and concerns around things like ChatGPT more recently, it shouldn’t mark concerns for the use of ethical AI.
AI is here to stay, and this year we’ll likely continue to witness more evidence of how it helps teaching and learning and ways of using it well.
Mental wellbeing resources
As we emerged from the pandemic, there was a surge of social and emotional wellbeing challenges, with a report from Academy21 revealing 52 per cent of teachers felt they were often seen as social workers by parents, with 87 per cent losing sleep due to the stress of managing a student’s problem. The issue is exacerbated by the fact that 52 per cent of teachers felt ill-equipped to deal with the level of mental health responsibility they face today. Additionally, 79 per cent stated they didn’t always know the right way to support a student going through an emotional breakdown.
As such, we’re likely to see greater investment and uptake in tools that can support student wellbeing, emotional intelligence, and safeguarding. Edtech resources can help schools and students improve their mental health policies, programmes and offerings, putting support mechanisms in place for staff and students to report and record data, as well as tools to explore and support social-emotional learning and student wellbeing.
These tools can also be effective in helping students develop skills such as empathy, communication and problem-solving.
Equally, to support teachers with their wellbeing – and thus helping to play a small part in retaining talent – schools will also likely look to edtech for ways to improve teacher workloads and mental health. On 29 March, Nicola Harvey, digital skills manager at Harvey Heals Wellbeing Consultancy, will take the stage at Bett to discuss how practical digital solutions are changing the narrative and supporting mental health in education.
Immersive technology is an exciting way to bring lessons and factual storytelling to life in an accessible way that resonates with students’ modern lifestyles. This type of technology can help expose them to entirely different places, cultures and lived experiences. It can also be a valuable way to engage students in conversations around sometimes challenging themes as well as sparking conversation and positive values within a school community.
For example, Djangoly Sherwood Academy uses an immersive storytelling platform to help students develop cultural capital, encourage children to celebrate their differences and empower them to make positive changes in their community.
This technology is constantly evolving and becoming more accessible, meaning schools don’t have to invest in expensive headsets and the like to reap the benefits. More often than not, platforms can run through smartphones, tablets or laptops, making it easy for schools to install. It can be used across a variety of lessons and subjects, making it more cost-effective. We’re likely to see continued interest this year, alongside game-based learning as a way to interact, engage and motivate children in a way that suits their preferences and lifestyles.
More than 60 per cent of people learn new things from content on TikTok, YouTube or Instagram, meaning students could be using them for educational content as well as entertainment purposes. While there is a danger for misinformation to spread on these channels, the idea of short bursts of content has grown in popularity. Known as microlearning, these bite-sized lessons are generally kept under 10 minutes, to help students connect the dots in a way that is quick and easy to remember.
It’s a simple way to help students learn wherever, whenever, suiting their desire for short and snappy content which holds their attention and helps retain information. It can be presented as digestible tutorials or mini lessons and can be particularly helpful when teaching about complex topics. Teachers can break down modules or concepts into smaller chunks and can either space it out over time or revisit content to help aid retention and reinforce learning.
The possibilities of edtech are endless and resources are constantly evolving to meet the needs of students, teachers and school communities. Conferences like Bett are important in giving the sector a platform to discuss trends, share best practice and explore the ways edtech can help strengthen and streamline operations. That way, we can ensure that we really are giving the best opportunities and experiences for students to learn and grow.