Jun 26, 2019

The future of EdTech in higher education - what the experts say

Teaching & training 4 min read last updated on: Feb 24, 2021

This is the second in our series of “ask the expert blogs”. In this blog we asked four leading EdTech experts “what excites you about the future of Edtech in Higher Education?”

And this is what they said.

Channel changes - Albert Añaños (IESE)

The future for Albert Añaños (Distance Learning Projects Director, IESE) is about the evolution of our communications capabilities. This will make a huge impact in Higher Education. The ability to see each other and communicate clearly at any distance, on any mobile, over any network will provide an experience so good that it will transform distance learning.

Some people are concerned about the possible replacement of educators with AI, but Albert feels we are not even close to that yet. However, we are close to a major change in the channel we use for delivering education.

The best channel remains sitting in front of a professor and being surrounded by other talented students. We are close though to having the technology that will deliver an experience almost as good wherever we are. Technology that will make us feel that we are there in the classroom.

Channels will be complementary though and the face-to-face channel will not be replaced. We will still need great Professors and Business Schools. Prestigious institutions to deliver a great learning experience.

New generations of students are more willing to use technology and will help drive the change.  They are already making an impact – choosing when and where to consume the teaching experience (e.g. choosing whether to attend a lecture in person or to watch a recording remotely).

According to Albert “the need for compelling remote learning will only grow and leading Business Schools and Universities must work hard not to miss the train on this”.

Personalized learning trajectories – Ine Windey (KU Leuven)

Ine Windey (ITEC, KU Leuven) is very excited about the future. She feels that we are “on the tip of the ice berg” and have only just started seeing the value of technology in education in Primary, Secondary and Higher Education. It does take time however and many students are being taught the same way as students were taught 100 years ago.

She discounts the likelihood of AI replacing teachers any time soon. The empathy and interpersonal skills are far beyond the current capabilities of AI. However, AI could power an explosive growth in personalized learning trajectories and relieve teachers from repetitive exercises. This would free them up to go deeper into the curriculum, improve overall learning and make teaching a more interesting profession.

With all this technology though, we must not forget that everyone will still need the basic literacy and numeracy skills as well as the enhanced collaboration and problem-solving skills developed through active learning.

The virtual classroom – Duncan Peberdy (Jisc)

Duncan Peberdy (Senior Lead Digital Learning Spaces at Jisc) is excited about the virtual classroom and Barco’s offering in this area. He feels that the “ability to engage meaningfully over distance and be an active and full part of a class” is a game-changer and far superior to “logging on alone and watching videos at a time that suits you”.

Many find remote learning a lonely experience and will relish the social and educational benefits of working with a class in the virtual classroom. Fixed class start times may also provide the discipline some students need.

Duncan feels though that the virtual classroom has ramifications far beyond the current focus of executive education in Business Schools etc.

Upskilling and reskilling through our working lives are a key aspect of the “4th Industrial Revolution” and more compelling remote learning will be the only practical option for many of us. In the UK this could also be the answer to a dramatic drop-off in part-time students. It may prove a natural choice for corporate training and provide a solution to the issue of education in prisons (where student numbers make many courses uneconomic to run).

The opportunity to do things differently – Giuseppe Auricchio (IESE)

Giuseppe Auricchio (Executive Director of Innovative Learning at IESE) took a different perspective. His advice was not to focus on the technology. For Giuseppe “technology is useful. The latest technologies are very interesting, but there will be more interesting ones tomorrow”.

Instead we should focus on the needs of our teachers and students. Old needs we can address in new ways or unmet needs we can address effectively for the first time.

For Giuseppe “the opportunity to do things differently is what technology is all about”.

Wise words for us all perhaps.

In summary then – AI might not replace teachers soon, but there is a lot to look out for in the future with EdTech in Higher Education.

Special thanks to our experts:

  • Giuseppe Auricchio is Executive Director of Learning Innovation at IESE Business School. Giuseppe’s unit was established in 2013 to coordinate innovation in teaching and learning, including the launch of online courses (MOOCs and “private” MOOCs), learning experience engines and “omni-learning” programs. Giuseppe championed IESE’s highly innovative virtual classroom project.
  • Ine Windey is a Research Coordinator at KU Leuven. An expert in educational psychology she manages and coordinates research projects to improve teaching and learning through the application of technology. A number of these projects have included collaboration with Barco.
  • Duncan Peberdy is a highly experienced consultant, specializing in the creation of digital learning spaces in Higher Education. Duncan works with Jisc, a membership-based organization, who provide UK universities and colleges with expert advice on digital technology for education and research.
  • Albert Añaños is Distance Learning Projects Director at IESE Business School. Albert is an experienced senior executive in managing IT infrastructure, Audio Visual technologies and IT support. Previously he was an Associate Professor in IT Management. Albert was the Project Manager of IESE’s highly successful virtual classroom project.

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