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What Trends Are Shaping Education in 2019? 19 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 30 June 2019
  • Sam Mire

Despite what your local dropout might say, school is definitely not for fools. Though imperfect, the educational system is where we absorb much of our core knowledge, learn to socialize with our peers, and become who we are. But the adults of today have likely lost touch with the feeling of roaming the halls and sitting in class.

These industry insiders haven't lost touch. They've made the state of education their focus, and they shared their insights with us. Here's what they have to say:

1. Emily Carle Hafer, Program Manager at Squirrels

“Computational thinking is shaping education in 2019. It is more meaningful than coding on its own because it is accessible and applicable in all curriculum. Many educators shy away from coding as it feels daunting or overwhelming in their work. Computational thinking focuses on problem-solving and encourages students to think critically about a solution in any situation. This mindset shift and focus on real-world skills will educate students in a broad way and prepare them for what comes next. We cannot predict the jobs and markets that will be prevalent in 2030, but we can prepare students to think differently.”


2. Tom Dolfi, Head of Marketing at Pathfinder

“More flexible: as institutions move towards integrated solutions, combining digital and offline methods, the learning environment becomes flexible and education is delivered in a more agile way.

Performance-based: thanks to digital data platforms, institutions can now
track with higher precision the progress of students and their outcomes. This allows for analysis that generates actionable insights, aggregating data from exam results, feedback, and other variables.

Focused on functional skills: curriculum and courses are more and more tailored to provide learners with a balanced mix of soft and hard skills, empowering students to become effective in real-life conditions.”


3. Vielka Hoy, Founder and CEO of Bridge to College

Vielka Hoy“Technology is definitely driving what, how, and why we teach students. This has major implications for equity as we are still using technology to track students between those who learn to make versus those who learn to work with the things that are made. This is especially surprising because technology has the ability to scale access to high quality education while introducing students to ideas and tools that were not possible just a few years ago.”


4. Richard Wells, Founder of EduWells

“Here is the NZ government’s vision for 2025 and fully personalised learning:

New Zealand has moved beyond the debate about technology in the classroom and is tackling the more difficult challenge of fully moving on from industrial education and into a innovative knowledge economy where children form new knowledge as normal practice.”


5. Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart

“The meta-trend for the next decade is the global (but gradual) shift to competency: show what you know and progress on demonstrated mastery. Our landscape analysis, sponsored by XQ Institute showed elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions have rapidly adopted personalization technology and are beginning to allow individualized pathways and pacing.

When hiring, corporations are less focused on pedigree and more on the demonstrated ability to perform. Personal profiles are being screened by AI-engines. This kind of automated review of a comprehensive learner record will replace standardized testing in the next 10 years.”


6. Vikas Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Wonder Workshop

“The trends in education mirror the rest of the society though in some cases Education tends to be ahead, and in some cases lag behind. Over the past few years we’ve seen classrooms adopt Computer Science and robotics as a learning tool in elementary schools. This is a trend we see growing beyond early adoption.

Globally, we’ve seen an increasing emphasis and investment in early childhood education preschools especially. I believe this is a trend that will continue as both parents and institutions invest ever more in pre-schools and early education.

Artificial Intelligence is another trend that is increasingly finding its way into schools. There will machine learning tools and curriculum for students in middle and high schools. Over time, we will see digital learning tools get transformed with the use of AI which has the potential to close ability gaps.”


7. Sarah Boisvert, Founder of Fab Hub Lab

Sarah Boisvert“Technology, especially the Internet, has brought information, data and learning tools directly to learners.All jobs are digital, regardless the field. From healthcare to warehousing and agriculture to Financial services technologies are transforming the nature of work. Automation requires that humans work with Co-Bots that need to be designed, programmed and repaired. Workers under-30 are breaking from traditional norms and want new, faster-paced, engaging careers.
A recent poll showed 40% of recent college graduates do not feel their educations provided value.”


8. David S. Wills, Owner of TED-IELTS

David S. Wills“Gamification is continuing to play a huge role in education in 2019, and will continue to do so. This process essentially tries to make education in something addictive and competitive in order to make students keen to acquire new knowledge. We can easily see a host of apps available now that teach us new languages in fun ways, such as Duolingo and Babbel. These sorts of apps are good at prompting people to continue a learning process that they would otherwise give up, and spur us to learn through habit recognition and encouraging competitiveness.”


9. Naomi Harm, Women Leadership and K12 EdTech Specialist, Innovative Educator Consulting

“From my women in leadership lens on teaching and learning, and working with k-20 educators nationwide, the top trends that are shaping education are personalized learning experiences, SEL (Social Emotional Learning), empower more girls and female students with computer science access and equity to resources, big data, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.”


10. George Koulouris, co-founder of bitlearn

“Our bet is that the next gen of professional learning will be game-based (currently growing @ ~50% YoY). We see a world where professionals are learning, not by attending classes, or passively watching long videos online, or reading lengthy textbooks. They are learning on the go, on their mobile and on-demand. They are learning by diving straight into bite-sized practical exercises of incremental difficulty, on-demand, in 10min slots. In addition to that, the science around learning has evolved sufficiently to understand how to optimise for learner engagement and comprehension.”


11. Amir Nathoo, CEO and founder of Outschool

“Key trends are concerns about screen time and over-scheduling. Parents and  teachers struggle with screen time inside and outside the classroom. How do you give kids access to digital literacy in a healthy way? Jordan Shapiro and Anya Kamenetz offer suggestions on in their books The New Childhood and The Art of Screentime. The pressure around college entry is causing over-scheduling, depression and even fraud. Over-focus on test scores risks losing sight of a healthy foundation: the love of learning. We foresee a backlash and a new focus on informal, diverse learning that spark genuine interest and curiosity.”


12. Chris Gaughan, Director of Product and Business Development for Early Adopter, a subsidiary of the Glimpse Group 

Chris Gaughan“I see immersive learning products that use AR and VR as game changers in
providing access to experiences like high quality lab simulations for all  of the sciences, from microbiology to quantum physics, that allow learners to understand these concepts in radical new ways. I also have significant optimism in the ability of immersive learning to integrate storytelling and game design to create completely novel learning experiences in the humanities and social sciences, that can transport a user to Song China as easily as transporting to them into a Shakespearian play.”


13. Aakansha Lam, Founder of Energy Scalable

Aakansha Lam“The market for e-learning is expected to grow globally from $176.12 billion in 2017 to reach $398.15 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 9.5%. However, Hechinger Report found that a college degree is still a distant dream for two-thirds of students with disabilities. What is the point of e-learning solutions if we can't reach those with inadequate/no electric access or those who can’t graduate due to accessibility issues? Fortunately, social impact start-ups like Energy Scalable, Inc. are addressing this gap by coupling solutions and practicing inclusion to ensure equity in education with electrification efforts and adaptive digital training tools.”


14. Betty Vandenbosch, Chancellor of Purdue University Global

“Technology shapes the economy and impacts education directly. Employers are unable to fill numerous positions that require skills in fields like data science, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, nursing, and other high demand fields. These talent gaps have resulted in really innovative partnerships with higher education institutions to rapidly onboard talent to fill these rewarding and lucrative positions.”


15. Thomas Ketchell, CEO and Co-Founder of Sutori

Thomas Ketchell“Steady broadband/internet connections. It may sound obvious but there is still a lot of investment needed to improve school networks. The internet helps learners of all ages, giving teachers the freedom to use tech products and apps in the classroom. There is still a major need for installation and getting a steady broadband connection in more schools so students can use some of the latest technology available to their teachers.”


16. Jim Czulewicz, CEO of JumpStart Academy

Jim Czulewicz“While the technology of AR and VR is still nascent and not yet widespread, game-based learning will eventually incorporate the use of both augmented and virtual reality as the technology improves. This technology is specifically adapted for young learners to truly add value to their work. AR is the stronger play right now with its immediate applications – content is king to any successful and sustainable game and the hardware technology always takes a back seat. Hopefully, teachers will soon be able to provide a hands-on 3D approach for kids to experience concepts in a real-life setting, allowing them to explore material they otherwise would not be able to connect with (e.g. dissecting a frog, exploring the pyramids of Giza, etc.).”


17. Moe Abbas, founder and CEO of GenM

“With nearly half of students either unemployed or underemployed after
leaving post-secondary school, it’s clear that the traditional education system is failing them. I believe that in the next few years, students will begin looking at their education as less of a right of passage, and more as an investment in themselves. This means that students will focus more on the RoI of their education, leading towards more affordable, practical alternatives that proactively prepare them for today’s workforce with hands-on experience being prioritized over simple knowledge.”


18. Doug Olsen, Vice President of Product and Technology at Collegis Education

“In 2019 two things are clear: First, AI is in its infancy. Capabilities in this space will continue to expand and create advantages for the institutions that leverage them. Second, since data is an essential ingredient to the successful deployment of AI, institutions need a data strategy and robust data assets to take advantage of current and emerging AI capabilities. In 2019 we will continue to see the successful adoption of AI chatbots at multiple stages of the student lifecycle to reduce enrollment center and student support costs, reduce melt, drive communication and engagement and increase start rates.”


19. David D. Timony, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Education at Delaware Valley University

“College-bound students are interested in dual enrollment and Career-bound students are interested in internships. The growing needs in areas such as Agriculture are driving the development of horticulture programs and what was once a generalized push in the STEM fields is becoming realized in specific career areas in the sciences. In order for students to be successful, they need actual experience in authentic settings. High schools and Universities that focus on Experiential Learning are making the biggest impact on student success.”

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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