As we embark on 2024, together with building the list of resolutions – personal or company-level – it is also an excellent time to examine the emerging educational trends poised to influence our approaches to learning and teaching. All in all, these trends not only mirror the evolving landscape of education but also predict a transition towards experiences that are increasingly inclusive, adaptable, and learner-centred. Among them, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) is at the forefront, signalling a more pronounced move toward personalized and lifelong learning models. Join us as we explore these exciting developments and their potential to redefine education in 2024 and beyond.
Extended Reality Experiences (XR)
The use of XR for immersive learning experiences is likely to gain more traction. These can make learning more engaging and memorable by creating customized learning environments and training both knowledge and physical skills. You can read more about the way we see education from the perspective of these technologies here: Meeting your learning objectives in XR
Last year’s announcements from Apple and Meta, together with advances from many other XR players (Microsoft, Unity…), are contributing to the trend of moving this technology from a niche into the mainstream. While, at a market level, most companies registered disappointing revenues, the continuous investments in this field are a sign of these players’ continuous betting on XR as the technology of the future.
Headset prices have continued to drop over the course of the last few years, and while more affordable, the main component missing is the revolutionary app that will appeal to mainstream consumers.
As XR headsets become more affordable, educational institutions are more likely to adopt this technology in their classrooms. This can lead to a wider implementation of XR-based learning tools and curricula, enhancing educational methods and learning outcomes across various subjects. Increased access also encourages content creators and educational software developers to innovate and create more XR content tailored for education. This could lead to a wider variety of educational XR experiences, catering to different learning subjects. See some examples of how we integrated XR experiences in education:
The demand for online education continues to grow. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major catalyst in normalizing and enhancing the appeal of online education. Even after the pandemic, numerous educational institutions and learners have maintained a strong appreciation for the benefits of online learning, resulting in a more permanent transformation of educational practices. Additionally, there has been an increasing trend of partnerships between online education platforms and conventional educational institutions, broadening the spectrum of available courses and degree programs. The online education experience is becoming increasingly immersive, offering simulations and environments that closely mimic real-world scenarios.
Furthermore, the online education market is distinguished by its diverse range of segments, including higher education, language and casual learning, as well as primary and secondary supplemental education and courses for reskilling and obtaining online certifications. This variety in segmentation caters to the varied requirements and interests of learners from different educational backgrounds and professional spheres.
The trend toward continuous learning is growing, with micro-credentialing allowing individuals to acquire specific skills without investing in full-length courses.
Institutions are adopting micro-credentials as a response to changing employer needs and student preferences. These credentials are seen as a way to equip students with job-relevant skills in a fast-evolving job market. Industry micro-credentials, in particular, are gaining traction, focusing on areas like cybersecurity, project management, digital marketing, and data visualization.
While there’s a need for a better-defined legal framework, micro-credentials are expected to move towards a more secure place in the educational offerings of many institutions and corporations. Read our articles for a better understanding of this trend:
Emphasis on Soft Skills
In terms of content trends for 2024, there’s a growing focus on soft skills like critical thinking, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence take over more routine tasks, the human workforce is increasingly valued for skills that machines cannot replicate easily. These include creativity, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills.
Furthermore, greater awareness of mental health and employee well-being in the workplace has led to a focus on skills like empathy, resilience, and stress management.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In recent years, the increasing awareness of the need to revise and enhance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies has become more pronounced, especially in response to various societal and political shifts. Educational institutions are now more focused on innovatively incorporating DEI principles into both their curriculum and campus life. Furthermore, from a broader educational policy perspective, the aspects of equity and inclusion are now considered fundamental in fostering societies that are sustainable, unified, and welcoming of diversity. These policy changes are being shaped by global phenomena such as demographic transformations, migration, escalating inequalities, and the advancement of technology. These developments necessitate a thorough evaluation of the impact of diversity within educational frameworks and the significant role these systems hold in moulding the societies of the future.
Without needing a magic ball, it’s clear to see that advanced AI tools will increasingly become part of our learning experiences. From tailoring course content to individual students’ paces and using predictive analytics to identify and support students at risk to the use of AI for administrative tasks, this technology is promising to reshape education at a pace never seen before. As the main transformer of the educational landscape, this deserves to be detailed further.
Legislative Advancements in the EU
In December 2023, the European Parliament and Council reached a political agreement on the European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act. The European Union’s groundbreaking AI Act is set to establish a robust legal framework for regulating AI systems within its borders. Upon finalizing its comprehensive text, the Act will become applicable two years post-enactment. The Act is a significant move by the European Union to strike a balance between fostering technological progress and safeguarding individual rights and societal values.
- Regulatory Compliance and Costs: The AI Act categorizes AI applications based on risk levels, potentially escalating compliance costs and administrative complexities, especially for SMEs and startups. Particularly, high-risk sectors like healthcare and finance will face strict measures such as transparency and human oversight (holding the technology accountable for its actions), safeguarding privacy and rights but possibly limiting some AI uses.
- Global Impact: The Act’s extraterritorial scope means that any AI system affecting the EU, regardless of the provider’s or user’s location, must comply. This global reach could significantly influence businesses operating internationally with the EU market.
- Penalties for Non-Adherence: Non-compliance with the Act can result in substantial fines, scaling up to €30 million or 6% of global revenue, aimed at ensuring strict adherence to the Act’s guidelines.
- Risk Management in AI: Companies will be required to develop extensive AI risk management strategies, including detailed algorithmic impact assessments and specialized AI cybersecurity measures.
Educational Sector Impact:
- High-Risk AI in Education: AI systems utilized in key educational decisions, like admissions or student evaluations, are designated as high-risk, necessitating stringent oversight.
- Ethical AI Utilization: The Act emphasizes ethical AI practices in education, aiming to prevent discriminatory uses and ensure AI tools contribute positively to educational processes.
- Promoting AI Literacy: The initiative advocates for enhancing AI literacy across various sectors, including education, proposing training programs to ensure responsible AI use and operation.
- Modernizing Educational Approaches: Despite the challenges of regulation, the Act acknowledges the potential benefits of AI in revolutionizing and enhancing the quality of education, supporting AI systems that aim to improve educational methods while preventing discriminatory practices.
Emphasizing point 3 above, from an educational institution’s perspective, the Act serves as a pivotal reminder of the necessity to intertwine AI literacy and competencies into the entire curriculum. This extends far beyond the realms of engineering and computer science, reaching into the arts, humanities, social sciences, and more. By doing so, institutions can equip students with the essential tools to navigate and leverage AI responsibly in their respective fields and future endeavours.
Legislative Advancements in Canada
In Canada, the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing with the introduction of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA). This legislation, once passed, will establish Canada’s first formal framework for the use and development of AI technologies. Meanwhile, in September 2023, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced the Voluntary Code of Conduct on the Responsible Development and Management of Advanced Generative AI Systems.
It’s important to note that the specifics of how AIDA will impact the education sector will become clearer once the legislation is fully implemented and the accompanying regulations are defined. However, we can infer potential impacts based on the general principles and requirements outlined in the Act:
- Enhanced Ethical Considerations: The emphasis on non-discriminatory and safe AI systems under AIDA could lead to a more ethical approach to AI use in educational technologies. This might involve a more rigorous assessment of AI tools used in educational settings, especially those that could impact student assessment, admissions, or learning outcomes.
- Data Privacy and Protection: Given the focus on managing anonymized data and the impact of AI systems on individuals, there would likely be increased attention to protecting student data privacy. Educational institutions using AI will need to ensure that student data is handled in compliance with AIDA’s guidelines.
- Research and Development: Canadian educational institutions involved in AI research might need to align their research practices with the AIDA’s requirements, particularly in areas related to risk assessment and mitigation and the ethical use of AI.
- Educational Content and Curriculum: There might be a push towards including AI literacy and ethics in educational curricula, preparing students to interact responsibly with AI systems and understand the implications of AI in various domains.
- Collaborations and Partnerships: The Act could influence how educational institutions collaborate with tech companies and other organizations in developing and deploying AI systems, ensuring adherence to the new regulatory framework.
AI advancements and implications for education
AI has the potential to transform many aspects of education, making it more personalized, efficient, and accessible. However, it’s also crucial to navigate the challenges that come with these technologies, particularly in terms of ethics and privacy, and to ensure equitable access to these advanced tools. Here’s an overview of how these AI developments are influencing education:
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) Enhancements: Innovations in NLP, particularly with models like GPT-3 and GPT-4, have transformed AI’s interaction with human language. This has led to the development of more advanced AI tutors and assistants that aid in language learning, respond to student queries, and assist in writing and research tasks.
- Customized Learning Experiences: AI has become more proficient at personalizing education by analyzing student data. These systems adapt learning material to suit individual student needs, pacing, and learning preferences, helping to identify areas requiring extra support and tailoring the curriculum.
- Automated Grading and Feedback: AI has brought about efficient grading systems for assignments and exams, particularly for objective-type questions.
- Creation of Engaging Educational Content: AI’s role in generating diverse educational content, like interactive modules and customizable textbooks, is growing. It’s also being used for creating virtual lab experiments and enhancing the accessibility and engagement of educational resources.
- Immersive Learning with VR/AR: The combination of AI with Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies is creating more immersive educational experiences. These tools allow for the interactive exploration of complex concepts, making learning more engaging.
- Streamlining Administrative Processes: AI is increasingly used in administrative tasks within educational institutions, such as scheduling, admissions, and resource management. This helps reduce the workload of staff, enabling them to focus more on educational activities.
Take a look at one of our examples of creating an AI assistant for educational purposes:
All in all, the trends presented in this article indicate a dynamic year for education in 2024, with a strong focus on technology integration, personalization, teacher support, and innovative educational models. Follow us on our LinkedIn page, and let’s discuss these trends in more detail!