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Trends in Digital Education 2022

Trends in Digital Education 2022

The idea of ​​virtual classrooms and online learning have seemed totally unrealistic only a few years ago. The pandemic has shown how quickly we can move from traditional education to digital. Over the past five years, the volume of the global online education market has grown fivefold and reached $ 243 billion. Sibedge has identified the main areas of technological development of digital education, which will be most relevant in 2022, and invited Kristina Reizenbuk, Head of Project Development in the field of e-learning, and Vsevolod Morotsky, CTO at Sibedge, to share their expertise.

“Changes in the field of education have been brewing for a long time. The pandemic has just accelerated their implementation. The old model of education has already lost its relevance, as the market for educational services has changed. Not a single child or student will listen to hour-long lectures, just because “it is necessary”. Learning should be fun! This is a very difficult task. After all, the main competitor of traditional education is a gadget. Therefore, learning should be more interesting than surfing the Internet including social networks or playing computer games,” Christina Reizenbuk, Head of E-Learning Project Development.

Artificial Intelligence

Many experts believe that machines will eventually carry out baseline teaching. Human factors and expert evaluation will no doubt stay. However, AI is changing the way we think about education already now. Here are just some promising options for the use of this technology.

Personalised Learning

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly effective in studying student behavior patterns to adapt teaching materials to the abilities, knowledge, skills and psycho type of each person. Neural networks are already being used to create smart content that makes the learning process more attractive. For example, if the AI learns that some student likes sports, it can consider their interests and offer to complete a task based on a sports-related example.

“Of course, no artificial intelligence can replace a real teacher, but it can be an excellent assistant in teaching. After all, it is great when training helps lagging students to catch up to the required basic level, and the rest to advance in studying the subjects in which they show greater interest and ability. At the same time, they can all be taught in the same class or group, and the teacher will have enough time to personally approach the subject, taking into account the abilities of each student," said Kristina Reizenbuk, Head of E-Learning Projects Development.

Written Tasks Assessment

One of the main problems of teachers is the large amount of time required to check and evaluate students' written tasks. Neural networks have learned to understand the meaning of written speech, so in the future, the possibility of using AI as a professor's assistant for checking large volumes of texts is not excluded. Even today, artificial intelligence actively helps educational institutions with routine standardized tests. Sibedge customers are increasingly turning to us to automate paper documentation processing. And this demand will grow in the coming years.

Virtual Assistants

Chatbots and virtual assistants can automatically answer students' questions, helping to navigate the learning materials. But now the public's attention is focused on the idea of creating full-fledged virtual teachers. Unfortunately, there are only a few successful examples of the implementation of this technology in the world, but you can't stop the beat. Since 2018, virtual teachers have been introduced in educational institutions in Australia, China and a number of other countries. Today, AI has achieved particular success in teaching foreign languages.

“We are entering the era of virtual smart assistants—communication modules that can replace the first level of technical support. Students can ask questions about navigation in the system or request explanations for tasks. The machine recognizes their intentions thanks to NLU and NER technologies, identifies key labels and uses them to find the necessary information in the knowledge base. Naturally, the second level of support in the face of real experts will not decrease and will come to the rescue if the robot is not able to cope. But this technology can significantly relieve teachers and lift up to 80% of the load which comes from the requests of students per day," said Seva Morotsky, CTO Sibedge.

Extended Reality

Extended Reality (XR) combines virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. Initially, VR simulators were too expensive, so they were used only for training pilots, astronauts and the military. The gaming industry has brought virtual reality to a fundamentally new level of quality and made VR accessible to everyone. The popular VR helmet Oculus Quest 2 created by Mark Zuckerberg's Meta Corporation costs less than a mid-range smartphone - only $299.  

Given the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, when children must study at home, using XR can increase their concentration and their immersion into the educational process. In the future, XR may as well become a worthy alternative to traditional educational processes. According to a study by PwC, the use of VR helps the information to sink in four times faster than when using traditional methodologies. Here are just a few practical examples of using VR in education:

  • Virtual tours. VR headsets can be used for remote visits to museums and other countries, without leaving the classroom. Students can also learn about historical moments from the past, which contributes to a deeper understanding of the subject.
  • Doctors training. Virtual reality allows medical personnel to perform safe and effective simulations that combine theory with practice and reduce the risk of future mistakes.
  • Remote training. The immersive nature of VR technology helps learners better understand and remember information. The software allows you to visualize complex processes and abstract concepts in digital reality.
  • Recruitment of students. Virtual university tours allow applicants to get acquainted with educational institutions and university campuses in advance.

The use of VR headsets increases students' confidence and develops their soft skills. They are better focused and complete tasks four times faster, as they feel an emotional connection to the VR content. Virtual reality for staff training is now used by such giants as Amazon, Volkswagen, Biocad, X5 Retail Group. The educational virtual reality market will reach $13 billion by 2026 (up from $656 million in 2018).

AR applications are easy to install today on almost any mobile device with a built-in camera. Augmented reality, like VR, is gradually being integrated into educational processes:

  • Content visualization. A student just needs to point the camera of their smartphone at the special labels printed in the textbook, and they will see a three-dimensional animated model associated with the studied subject. For example, doctors will be able to study a particular internal organ, and mechanics—a complex part of the machine. 
  • Virtual laboratory. With the help of augmented reality, you can recreate the course of chemical reactions, perform experiments and test hypotheses, no need to buy expensive laboratory equipment.
  • Language barriers elimination AR technology allows you to translate texts in textbooks written in foreign languages in real time and display translation directly on the pages.

“VR is still gaining momentum in training, but it is already becoming clear that this is a very promising technology. It will allow you to study various subjects with great interest, go to different places and eras, participate in virtual medical operations or create digital 3D paintings. Today, VR is actively used in entertainment. The relatively high cost of both the hardware itself and the software does not yet allow us to say that in the next year or two VR will be in every educational institution, but in the span of five to seven years, it is quite realistic," said Kristina Reizenbuk, Head of E-Learning Projects Development.

Online Proctoring

Proctoring is in place to monitor and control the test- and exam-taking process. As educational institutions are transitioning to distance learning, online proctoring services are gaining popularity. This technology creates a fair testing environment through video surveillance, cell phone detection, and browser blocking on the subject's computer.

Online proctoring reduces student anxiety before exams. After all, they take them at home in familiar conditions. The technology is based on neural networks and involves remote observers only when needed. They explain rules or clarify questions in real time. This makes the experience minimally invasive.

Gamification

Gamification is the involvement of students in educational processes using techniques inherent in video games. It contributes to better assimilation of knowledge, as well as personal and social qualities development. 

According to the statistics of the analytical agency NewZoo, about 60% of adults play mobile or online games that use high-score tables. Adults, like children, take their joy from victories and show competitive spirit. It is this feature of video games that digital educational platforms are beginning to adopt today.

Just getting points for tasks completion is not so motivating. But when students see achievements of other students in the overall results table, the desire to improve their results and take a leading position is activated. Additional incentives can be virtual rewards: badges, avatars and other unique distinctions.

“To compete with gadgets, learning should be more interesting, more colorful; in other words, motivating students in every imaginable way. Good psychologists work on successful video games, understanding exactly what requires maximizing user engagement in the game. The task of creators of educational gamified content is to clearly understand the ways to engage the audience, implement learning through a game, set new goals and motivate students to achieve them," said Kristina Reizenbuk, Head of E-Learning Projects Development.

Educational Marketplaces

In the corporate environment, Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), educational content marketplaces for various learning management systems, are becoming increasingly popular. Many organizations require ready-made solutions to improve skills of their employees, but they simply do not have the time or resources to create their own methodologies. Skillbox, Udemy, Coursera and Linux Academy platforms allow you to get a new profession quickly and inexpensively and right from your home or workplace. 

“The advantage of such systems is that experts can freely move between different positions and departments within their company. Today, a person works in the marketing department, and tomorrow they can move to QA or become a developer. And the company will not have to hire expensive teachers and consultants. Everything happens with the help of digital educational platforms and some supervisor support. We can consider this a kind of career guidance elevator within a single company, when an employee can switch between different positions until they find the one that suits them best," said Seva Morotsky, CTO Sibedge.

Mobility

According to research by Towards Maturity, 71% of millennials prefer mobile educational software. The productivity of students who use smartphones and tablets for educational purposes is increased by an average of 43% when compared with those who study while sitting at a desktop computer.

The availability of educational materials wherever and whenever you want, as well as the ability to study on the go, make the educational process much more attractive for most people. E-learning platforms large developers are actively creating mobile clients and adapting content for touch screens. Market giants such as Facebook, Google, Adobe, Amazon have their own mobile educational platforms.

In some countries, educational institutions try to minimize the use of paper in the educational process. Students and school children are given personal tablets, and they receive lectures in the format of digital presentations. Homework, if desired, can also be done with no paper books or notebooks. This approach not only protects nature and reduces the consumption of paper products, but also makes the learning process more attractive for children and adolescents.

Microlearning

Microlearning has become another trend in the digital education market. The essence of the method is to break down the educational content into small blocks that do not overload students' brains with information and are much better absorbed than large and complex material. Microlearning integration into digital educational platforms is now being implemented both at the academic and corporate levels. 

The following advantages of this approach can be distinguished:

  • Time saving. You can learn a little every day, which attracts people much more than the tedious hours of classes. 
  • Quick results. After each short session, the student immediately sees the result. This contributes to the rapid production of endorphins and further motivation.
  • Engagement. Combined with gamification and mobile apps, microlearning provides an even greater level of student engagement.
  • Flexibility. The ability to quickly make changes to individual components of the training material without having to rewrite the entire course. 

“Education now is not something that you need to get by many years of studying at school and then at university. The world is accelerating and education, as a service, is accelerating with it. Knowledge should be of high quality, accessible and presented in an easy, and most importantly—fast form. This contributes to the development of the concept of short-term courses that can be studied in your spare time anywhere in the world. The boundaries are blurred, the possibilities become limitless. In just a few months, you can master a new profession, complete an internship, gain experience and get a job. There is a study according to which a person born after 2000 will try five professions in their life. And they will definitely not have the opportunity to master each profession for four to six years, because then it will take half of their lifetime. The field of education is changing and adapting in such a way as to be in demand and keep up," said Kristina Reizenbuk, Head of E-Learning Projects Development.

Interactivity

One-way interaction with teaching material will soon be a thing of the past. Interactivity is the future as it makes learning more visual and increases student engagement. Together with augmented reality and gamification, interactive video content is increasingly in demand in the field of e-learning. 

Some digital educational platforms are already asking students to answer questions or take a test while watching the instructional video. Users can navigate the video using built-in navigation tools, including keyword search for snippets. This approach solves two problems at once: passive content consumption and the inability to automatically track student progress.

Metaverse

The metaverse combines several of the already mentioned technological trends. It is a realistic virtual world that mixes VR technology, interactivity, social media, video games, teamwork and much more. Thanks to realistic avatars, the transfer of emotions, the ability to see and interact with other students, it is the metaverse that can become a worthy alternative to full-time education.

Meta Corporation is working hard to make this technology available to all segments of the population. Virtual environments were created for business meetings, educational sessions, communication and entertainment. There are too many constraints to integrate this technology yet. But in the next couple of years, learning will transfer to virtual classrooms where students can sit at their personal desks, raise their hand to answer a teacher's question, and communicate with classmates and classmates. 

“Not everyone can afford to get a traditional education today. Digital learning, on the other hand, is much cheaper, much more flexible, available from anywhere 24/7 and covers all students' needs. E-learning platforms allow you to design an individual curriculum for yourself with your own hands. It saves time, energy, money, and other resources. At the same time, you can get an education without leaving the comfort of your home. For example, when staying in Russia, you can get a diploma from a British or Australian university,” said Seva Morotsky, CTO Sibedge.