Smiling girl student elearning online on laptop watching webinar at home.

From building sustainable technological change to prioritizing connections online, these five trends are shaping the future of education technology in 2023. 

Learning online is part of how we live and learn. The demand for employee and student flexibility has catalyzed redesign and systems change. Our decisions now can lay the groundwork for higher-quality learner experiences that increase educational access and foster human connections.

And as students increasingly prefer learning online, the future of learning has new expectations: to be as good–if not better–than traditional in-person offerings. That includes offering more robust learner support, social connections, and rigor.

The next generation of online learning is here because of leaders, innovation, and technological advancements. And so are these five education technology trends in 2023 I’m excited about.

Education technology innovation will be people-centered and tech-powered.

We know the power of bringing people together. So our places of work and schooling have been constructed to creatively and collaboratively solve problems. And these physical shared spaces have been requirements in the past.

These inherently social aspects of learning have yet to be present online. All participants in online education have felt this friction but dismissed it for speed or convenience. Yet we are proving that we can work and learn collaboratively without geographic constraints. 2023 is the year when design, models, and technology accelerate to deliver higher-quality experiences.

When designing education systems today to incorporate online modalities, institutions think human-first. That means reframing their learning pedagogy, systems, and technology integrations to involve everyone that plays a part. That includes technologists, faculty, instructional designers, IT professionals, administrators, community leaders, and parents. The future of learning takes a village.

Learning is a part journey and part outcomes that emphasizes relationship-building between teachers and students, peer-to-peer connections, or collaboration between faculty and administrators. It also means nurturing interactions between people, processes, and technologies that make learning happen. Thinking critically about how everyone works together to leverage technology to flex time and place is the next online learning iteration. This year, we will see significant human-centered approaches to learning design with leading institutions.

Technological success requires long-term sustainability.

Less is more when it comes to technological sustainability at schools and institutions. Implementing a smaller set of platforms and interoperable tools with fidelity is becoming a priority over more applications and instructional resources. Selecting core platforms and content allows institutions to focus efforts and resources while measuring effectiveness and impact. With a tighter financial climate projected for 2023, leaders must make fewer and less risky bets. Technology investments that are “big rocks,” or foundational pillars that support learning, business objectives, and innovation design, will get more resources and be more selective. 2023 is when disruptive innovation takes root, and sustained change to keep institutional effectiveness is managed intentionally.

Technological sustainability requires both successful ecosystem integration and implementation fidelity. The institutional “why” needs to be messaged consistently, and the “how” requires a partnership between technology providers and institutions. The “what” needs to fit into existing users’ workflow while supporting the change vision of the future. Successful tech will be easy for users, agile, and interoperable with other applications while evolving with new tech-powered experiences and possibilities.

Evidence of impact guides budget priorities.

When deciding what technology is best for students, evidence of impact is top of mind for educators. For schools and institutions, that means research and validation. It’s time to stop using what’s not working and leverage technology that improves outcomes. To make technology assessments, institutions are using rigorous methods. For example controlled trials, where in a recent study, 78% of higher education decision-makers reported conducting investigations of their technology investments. These investigations will help ensure technology delivers desired student outcomes, making it more likely to receive funding.

And that looks like:

“I’m going to buy something because of a referral from a leader or institution that shares our mission and expectations.”

“I’m going to buy something because I read a case study with validated research.”

“I’m going to buy something because I tried it on a small scale and evaluated it against our hypothesis of institutional impact.”

Engagement is valued over assessment.

Engagement is more important than an assessment to ensure learning creates positive student outcomes. Engagement indicates long-term learning potential and student well-being. Students are more likely to retain information and develop critical thinking skills if engaged in their learning processes. Additionally, engaged learners are more likely to have positive attitudes towards their class, peers, and school, empowering motivation and self-directed learning. Key focus categories that boost student engagement include technology, collaborative learning pedagogy, student-instructor interactions, community-based learning enrichment, and supportive, interactive online environments.

Educators realize that while assessment is essential, it’s only a snapshot of understanding. Engagement is a better indicator of success encompassing a student’s emotional, behavioral, and cognitive learning investment. Now more than ever, educators want technology that measures or increases student engagement. And that looks like student data analytics that offers instructional supportactive learning pedagogy in an online classroom, or assignments that use engagement as an evaluation benchmark. When engagement is the endpoint, we can design the building blocks of attendance, participation, relevance, and belonging.

Career and vocational training is on the rise and being modernized.

Career and vocational training has been a cornerstone of workforce readiness. However, we still need to find a current course of study for emerging fields of work, and I’m excited to see how community colleges and innovative high schools lead the way in designing these pathways. Key drivers for this trend include the growing need for a skilled workforce in various industries and the ever-changing role of technology across business sectors. In addition, as students seek vocational experiences and skills that prepare them for careers, major employers are waiving degree requirements entirely for job seekers in favor of on-the-job training and competencies assessments.

In response, many two-and-four-year institutions are modernizing vocational training programs by incorporating more technology, such as online learning and augmented reality. They’re also partnering with businesses and organizations, like Google or Udemy, to provide students with real-world certifications. By offering flexible programs that help students combine traditional coursework with vocational training, institutions can provide degrees with the hard skills needed to launch careers. As a result of this focus, K-12 schools are starting earlier with career pathing, leveraging virtual learning opportunities to innovate course design with access to expert groups and industry leaders worldwide.

 

To learn how Class’s online learning platform can support your school or institution, visit us at class.com or schedule your demo today.

Jason Bedford

Jason Bedford is the SVP of Education at Class, and is a passionate educator and technologist. Having held executive positions with leading EdTech companies, he's worked hard to drive innovation with global educational partners and support their mission of equity and student achievement. Before EdTech, he was an educator in Wake County Public Schools.

Jason Bedford

Jason Bedford is the SVP of Education at Class, and is a passionate educator and technologist. Having held executive positions with leading EdTech companies, he's worked hard to drive innovation with global educational partners and support their mission of equity and student achievement. Before EdTech, he was an educator in Wake County Public Schools.

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