- The education sector has experienced major disruption in the past two years, as remote learning took center stage.
- An expanded and comprehensive use of digital technology will help the education sector normalize.
- As digital technologies are adopted, there is a need for more faculty training in their use.
- Cloud-based communication and collaboration tools are leading the charge toward true digital transformation in education.
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Few industries have been impacted as much by COVID-19 as education. Many schools were shut down and providing online-only instruction for some time. Even though many have returned to in-person learning, online or remote learning access has expanded.
Nine education predictions for 2022
The following is a deeper dive into the education sector with nine predictions for 2022.
1. Expanded and comprehensive use of digital tools
The penetration of digital technology within education escalated during the pandemic. Schools were forced to shift from in-person to remote learning. Learning management systems are a core structure for online or digital learning. These systems house the content, organization, assignments, and activities that students complete.
Video-based instruction also took hold as popular conferencing solutions have been used to deliver live instruction to remote students.
Many colleges have developed versatile learning classrooms that allow students to take courses in person or remotely. Leveraging digital tools, virtual students can ask and answer questions and participate in group activities with students in the classroom.
2. Online training demand for faculty
The rapid transformation into a more digitally-connected learning culture has created more need for online training programs and continuing education for teachers. Research released by Bay Atlantic University revealed broad student support of their online learning experiences, but it also revealed the need for online training among college faculty. Only 49 percent of full-time faculty and only 36 percent of part-time faculty reported receiving online education training. Much of the faculty received hastily arranged training as the college transitioned quickly to remote learning due to COVID.
As more colleges offer online courses, or expand offerings, the importance of online training for faculty grows.
3. Greater use of eBooks
The shift toward more digital books versus print textbooks has been in progress for several years. COVID expedited eBook adoption among instructors and student interest in the digital format, and some bookstores only sold online during the pandemic. In 2018, only 14 percent of college faculty preferred digital course materials. In 2020, that number spiked to 24 percent.
Publishers have been aggressively adding more instructor resources, digital tools, assignments, and interactive activities in conjunction with digital books. Instructors can integrate books and assignments in their learning management systems.
For students, artificially-intuitive assignments and activities are a new way to tailor work to the needs and progress of the individual student. Some assignments, for instance, intuit a student’s understanding of concepts based on answers to questions. Students receive more questions on concepts with which they struggle and move forward from concepts they grasp well.
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4. Renewed emphasis on soft skills
Technology skills are critical for students in 2022. However, a drawback of more digital learning is less interpersonal communication and interaction. Educators have noticed, and 2022 brings renewed emphasis on soft skills.
The World Economic Forum continues to indicate that communication, teamwork and problem-solving are among key skills needed by employers. These soft skills are difficult to incorporate into a digital learning environment. Educators will proactively bring more soft-skills training into the classroom, even as content teaching becomes more digital. Digital tools, for instance, provide a platform through which students can collaborate in groups, share documents, and coordinate on projects.
5. Challenges with holding student attention
Another pitfall of widespread use of digital technology and its fast pace has been a decrease in student attention spans. Young learners are used to seeing rapid movement from frame-to-frame in videos, games, and other online activities. Digital natives also grew up with the expectation of instant gratification.
Short attention spans challenge the traditional classroom instruction or lecture format. It is more difficult to keep students interested and engaged without including them consistently through discussions and activities.
6. More collaborative and interactive experiences
Inclusion of more collaborative and interactive experiences is partly motivated by the previous prediction about greater challenges with attention spans. Hands-on learning not only helps with student engagement, but it contributes to retention of concepts and teaches students real-world application.
The noted escalation of digital tools in education makes it possible for instructors to incorporate a wider array of interactive activities. Instructors can easily invite students to use devices and participate in interactive polls, responses to questions, and learning games. Young learners receive hands-on instruction with virtual technology and artificial intelligence.
7. Reliance on data and analytics
Education has not historically been known for cutting-edge reliance on data and analytics. However, digital instruction and regular learning assessments enable more tracking of student success with courses and concepts.
Schools, programs, and instructors can more easily track student performance and correlate it to particular teaching topics and even activities. This type of data-tracking helps guide more instruction, or consideration of new strategies, in areas in which students struggle.
Analytics allow for the measurement of correlations between student outcomes on individual activities and unit assessments. Thus, teachers can more quickly determine when students are struggling and intervene. This type of data usage is especially critical in subjects like math, where concepts build upon each other.
8. Personalized instruction and learning
Programs for talented and gifted students have existed in some format for a long time. However, teachers have long wished for more opportunity to provide students with learning opportunities at a pace they could handle. Lack of time and resources for customized instruction has been a primary obstacle.
With digital tools organized in a learning management system, it is now more practical for teachers to deliver personalized instruction. Students can complete readings, assignments, and activities at a pace that suits them. Teachers can provide access to extra learning resources and tools to allow more advanced students, or those working at a faster pace, to tackle more challenging work.
9. Impacts of the Great Resignation trickle into the classroom
As teachers and students return to the classroom despite continued COVID concerns, many educators may be rethinking their career choices. NEA states the issue this way: “Recent studies have shown teachers are almost twice as likely to experience job-related stress as the general population and almost three times as likely to experience depression. Our survey data shows a similar trend. We face a looming crisis in losing educators at a time when our students need them most. One out of three NEA members say the pandemic has made them consider retiring or leaving the profession early. Even our earliest career educators report they may leave the education field, at alarming rates. This is a serious problem with potential effects for generations.”
School systems will need to concentrate efforts on recruiting new teachers, as well as retaining current educators by providing additional support during this trying time.
Let RingCentral help your educational institution stay on trend
The transformation of education to a more digital and versatile structure has been rapid over the last few years. There are many benefits that come with successful integration of digital tools, data tracking, and other capabilities discussed. Educators also need to balance progression in digital learning with the continued importance of soft-skills training, which remains vital to employers.
RingCentral is a leading provider of cloud-based communications systems, which allow educators to offer a more integrated support system across communication platforms. See how it works today.
Originally published Jan 20, 2022, updated Jan 25, 2022