Regardless of whether you agree with this, the role of technology and its influence within the education sector remains top of mind. As a way to engage students more effectively to improve learning outcomes; and, as professional tools for educators, improving workplace efficiencies in areas like content planning, knowledge management and professional learning.

Perhaps not surprising, a recent KMPG report found that innovation within the digital environment remains a high priority for business leaders going into 2018. Why is this relevant to the education sector you may ask? This rapidly changing landscape is accelerating digital transformation within the staff and classroom.  

Our recent Changing World of Work survey found that more with two thirds (62 percent) of the global population are now taking advantage of anywhere working. Further, teams collaborating virtually to share content and ideas is now considered ‘business normal’.

On this note, it was advantageous to see the latest PISA study which ranked Australian students among the world’s best for collaborative problem solving.

With all these external forces at play, here are my thoughts on what technologies I foresee taking centre stage in the education sector over the coming year:

1. Artificial intelligence in education (AIEd)

The integration of Artificial Intelligence technologies in education (AIEd) shows no signs of slowing down. A recent report by Pearson analysed how AIEd will transform education. Imagine the possibilities of each student having their own virtual learning assistant, or Bot powered by AI that can support a student throughout their studies, creating a personalised learning journey. Or, new assessment models that measure in real time as they happen and can adapt content accordingly. 

We are starting to see an inkling of this with more intelligent App platforms for learning like Phonics Hero which have parent and teacher portals that track progress, in real-time helping teachers track the progress each student is making – whether they are at home, on an iPad, in the classroom, on the IWB, or sitting with a laptop.

2. Immersive experiential learning

With BYOD now standard in many Australian schools, providing students with high speed internet connectivity to the outside world through devices like tablets and PCs is becoming ‘education essential’. This has led to the wider use of virtual reality technologies, creating truly immersive learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Tools like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Google Expedition and Windows 10’s Mixed Reality Viewer are continuing to change the way subjects are taught as students and educators engage with content and externally based experts in new ways – blending the real and virtual worlds.

3. The hyper collaborative classroom

Using video collaboration and digital content sharing to deliver on demand or personalised learning, enabling access to experts not possible before, and provide richer learner experiences for remote based students. Imagine that the next step for students, teachers and schools would be to go from being “collaborative” amongst themselves to “hyper-collaborative” – bringing together knowledge, capabilities and ideas from different institutions, industries, eco systems and geographies.

A great example of this is happening right now in Australia, major corporates are backing a new educational ‘Women in STEM’ program, connecting female students with real-life mentors in the corporate world via an online platform that allows them to see what happens within the business world.

I anticipate that for 2018 and beyond, more educators will be willing to embrace the idea of ‘anywhere learning’ within the classroom. Enabling students to learn, the way they want, where they want and in a hyper-collaborative manner. 

4. Smart campuses in the cloud 

In the same way that we’ve seen AI technologies and machine led learning drive the Smart Home movement; we are seeing a similar move towards creating Smart Campuses. This involves harnessing ICT excellence in the areas of sourcing, management and accountability, catering to a diverse range of needs from learners to educators and campus administrative teams.

Market analysts IDC also suggests that central education organisations will also aim to leverage the benefits of cloud based technologies to drive cost savings, and operational efficiencies through increased cloud-related IT consolidation and shared services initiatives.  

5. Coding grows from strength to strength

Coding continues to grow in popularity and the way it’s taught is fast evolving. We are also seeing a much-needed increase in private sector technology partners developing innovative educational content, provide guest expertise and transfer knowledge.

Microsoft continues to develop its Minecraft coding programs where students get to learn how to code in real time inside game. Many other companies are also investing in coding for kids, producing everything from STEM starter kits to accelerate design thinking and logic to professional e-modules for teachers to ensure they have the tools to teach coding within the classroom.  

Science fiction or reality?

As these 2018 ‘edu-tech trends’ suggest, the way we learn and manage our education environments is continuing to evolve rapidly.

Even though new technologies like artificial intelligence, bots and virtual learning assistants may feel still feel like science fiction for many, they will soon be as familiar as using iPads or connecting with students in a video meeting room.

We need to get prepared now to ensure teachers and students are ready to harness the potential of these new technologies in the classroom and ultimately the workplace of the future.