12 Trends for Higher Education Sector Post COVID19

The world is changing fast and so is the education sector. COVID19 has made us adapt new norms, innovations and tools faster that we thought were possible. As the sector reinvents itself and adopt new rules, the very meaning and purpose of school education get irrevocably changed. Social distancing forced educational institutes to be shut down and resort to virtual platforms.

As education institutes adapt to change and are redefine ways of teaching, to ensure maximum learning impact, here are the possible trends in the higher education sector post COVID19-

1. Teacher’s role will be redefined

The idea of a teacher as the reservoir of knowledge, one who shares knowledge to students will no longer be apposite. Today one has easy access to knowledge and skills, through digital connectivity on phones and computers. Tomorrow’s classroom will need a definition of teacher in the lines of someone who facilitates development as contributing members of society, instead of just lecturing.

2. Tech driven teaching 

Technology will be the watchword and will dominate the education and learning space. And will go beyond Zoom sessions. However, online education demands access to gadgets and stable connectivity. Today, think tanks in the education sectors are working on taking a lot of science lessons to 3-D – which will surely be more exciting way of learning. Technology is going to add value to teaching, and it will be imperative for teachers and technology makers to persevere and innovate.

3. Technology will be about content not container

As technology continues to dominate education, it will be crucial to know how to use the devices that will be deployed to their full potential. With more and more proliferation of devices, in addition to increased accessing of content from multiple sources, content and its usage on multiple devices will become king. This is why the buzz word today is – future of education is in the ‘content’, not the ‘container’.

In addition to content, it will be through connections and the communities i.e. students working in partnership with each other, teachers handholding fellow teachers – that technology will be able to help enable, accelerate and create positive impact.


4. The US $100 laptop and One Mouse Per Child

As technology enters classrooms, the myth about US$100 laptop, one for every child, may actually become a living reality. In fact what is more feasible is a ‘connected’ classroom with ‘One Mouse Per Child’. This is actually ideated from the ongoing partnership between Microsoft Research Connections and Miguel Nussbaum at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The project experiments with games for learning using Single Display Groupware and multiple mice, a collective learning through activities which perk up the way resources can be utilised in under-resourced schools and advocate for personalized learning with individual feedback.

5. Old skills to go obsolete

A couple of years ago, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did a comparative analysis of the educational systems of developed countries using international PISA, a test that involves 15-year-olds across 31 nations. It was found that those who used computers had both lower reading and math scores. In 2019 study, The Reboot Foundation found a negative link between a country’s performance on the PISA and students’ technology usage in school. They say that more usage of computer screens in schools, led to lower ranks in educational achievements.
As education goes digital, getting rid of some prevalent biases might define the new normal. Soon, some old skills will go obsolete and newer learning modules will emerge.

6. Blended learning and personalized education

Varied forms of blended education will be in demand. Need for more flexible and blended forms of long term learning, was already being felt in the pre –Covid era – learning which will address the need to upskill and reskill, necessary for the digital age economy. Experienced learners will be found to show more interest in micro-credentials which enable acquiring definite knowledge and skills. Professional courses that prepare one for AI, AR, VR, ML, Blockchain, Big Data, Cloud, data analytics, voice deployment will gain importance. Experiential learning will also come to the fore front.

World class Master Class teaching formats imparted by best-in-domain will soon be digitally delivered. Other significant trends will be self-learning, which is self-motivated as well as self-funded and ‘passion’ learning in the areas of hobbies or skills one want to nurture. Social distancing and work-from-home will create more time for such learning.

7. Reskilling and Upskilling will gain value

In the west, during the Great Recession it was seen that, enrollment in higher education increased as many lost jobs, while those employed saw economy downsides as an opportunity to enroll back in school, particularly those in lesser-paying jobs. Post Covid, the same trend may emerge and most of those graduating might go for a post graduate degree. Sought after study programs will be in technology, but vocational courses have a chance to witness significant rise.

8. AI will personalise learning

Industry experts say that introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) to higher education will bring significant opportunities and challenges. Education institutes today face issues like detached students, high dropout rates, and the uselessness of a conventional “one-size-fits-all” move towards education. But effective use of AI will lead to personalized learning experiences, which will help to resolve many of these problems, as in such a scenario students would enjoy a completely unique educational approach fully customised to individual abilities and needs. This will increase motivation and reduce the chances of dropping out. Moreover, it will facilitate better understanding of students for professors enabling them to teach better.

9. AI and cloud computing to create MOOC

MOOC – massive open online courses – helps those living in remote areas learn and arm them with the latest knowledge. Other than mass customization, it will also lead to diverse applications and projects to increase reach and impact. Tutoring apps are going to be custom-made, with lesson structures based on execution of singular user profile. Increased data crunching will make testing an increasingly interactive marvel. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning will define students’ strength and weaknesses. Also individual learning rates and records will be mulled over and documented. These tests will become holistic models to help students to stay motivated.

10. Examination and grading to change

Chores like assessment, evaluating, paper setting, making mark-sheets and tracking the performance of students with get less tedious with the use of AI which will simplify these tasks. In this way teachers will be able to concentrate more on course improvement, teaching quality and aptitude development. With AI frameworks in place, examinations and scoring systems will become more and more digital, which in turn will reduce the role and judgment of examiners.

11. Chatbots will provide tailor-made guidance

AI-enabled chatbots will come into play for responding to students’ queries and providing immediate answers to students outside of regular office hours. Experts also feel that it will increase students’ motivation. Another benefit of using chatbots in education institutes will be the collection of large volume of big data regarding students’ concerns and areas of interest. This collected information when analyzed could be of help for institutes in creating innovative new services and programs to further enhance students’ learning impact.

12. AR to improve visualization, annotation and storytelling

Augmented Reality (AR), a powerful visualization tool enables to bring a concept into a reality which otherwise would have remained imaginary, out-of-the-way or complex to comprehend. AR is known to make the invisible visible. Today HoloLens and HoloAnatomy, award-winning AR app by CWRU and Cleveland Clinic, help students learn from their own homes in the lockdown.

Again, London’s National Theatre now uses AR to increase accessibility of their performance for people with hearing and speaking disabilities. AR makes new modes of storytelling and creative expression possible with experiences unfolding in real time. Introducing novel and varying perspectives, it alters the way we say, share or remember stories. Western countries are going to see a lot of AR happening in teaching.

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