In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic led to nationwide school closures. Districts turned to technology to continue educating students. Though our classrooms are no longer entirely digital, it’s clear that educational technology is here to stay – and that it’s going to play a larger role than ever in face-to-face learning. For one, coronavirus variants continue to threaten school closures. Schools currently face closures and disruptions due to the Omicron variant. According to US News and World Report, 5,409 schools announced remote learning or closures by the end of the first week of January, 2022. In Philadelphia alone, over ninety schools moved to remote learning. However, technology doesn’t just offer a way to learn safely during times of emergency. During the initial school closures, students and teachers realized that certain aspects of online learning greatly benefitted student performance. Moreover, technology can help teachers with basic tasks, giving them more time to work with students individually. These three 2022 educational technology trends make learning easier both in digital and face-to-face learning environments.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, school closures led to the adoption of remote learning. Often, this in turn led to different modes of teaching and learning. Many teachers used asynchronous learning, allowing students to complete and turn in work on their own time. For many students, this proved a welcome change. Many students flourished under the freedom and flexibility offered by asynchronous learning. Students could work at the times and the pace that worked best for them. In fact, asynchronous learning was so successful that 20% of districts have added or are considering permanent remote learning opportunities based on what they learned about student and family needs during the pandemic. Asynchronous learning has the added bonus of building executive functioning skills like planning, organization, and time management. As Mickey Revenaugh, who serves as Pearson Online Academy’s vice president for global online learning, told EdTech, “Management of your own learning is something that students of all ages really need to learn, and they learn it pretty quickly.”
Artificial intelligence can help teachers with complex tasks, such as classroom management. This is especially helpful in classrooms where hybrid learning is taking place. For instance, according to EdTech, “Voice assistants in products that help manage classrooms are an example of AI students and teachers may see and interact with.” AI can also help students in asynchronous learning situations. According to Teaching Made Practical, “One excellent example of AI in action is the question bot, which was built by David Kellerman.” This bot “was programmed to answer students’ questions and deliver videos of past lectures.” In this way, AI can help some students review while teachers assist others with different learning activities. Plus, one of the best features of AI is that it adapts to the needs of each individual classroom by “learning” from students. The question bot, for example, contains “machine learning capabilities [that] ensure that it gets better and better the more it’s exposed to different queries.”
AI can also help keep students safe. EdTech mentions “AI-powered content filtering and cybersecurity tools” that “work intelligently in the background” on classroom computers. This helps relieve some of the responsibilities of computer monitoring from a teacher’s already full plate. However, it’s important for schools to remember that content filters are not foolproof. Moreover, they don’t detect or prevent all risky online behavior. In order to make sure students are safe online, schools should combine content filters and other cybersecurity initiatives with screen monitoring software. Screen monitoring platforms like LearnSafe can detect risky behavior both online and offline. This includes cyberbullying, pornography, weapons, threats, and predatory grooming. Moreover, LearnSafe’s Digital Safety Representatives alert designated school officials to captures that show issues of concern that may require action. These captures may include threats, searches for weapons, and discussions of suicide and self-harm.