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Virtual Reality and Other Technology Trends in Education

By utilizing emerging technologies, teachers can unlock their learning environments and offer their students a greater range of educational experiences. This can lead to increased student engagement and help financially disadvantaged schools offer high-quality education. Teachers with a background or advanced degree in instructional design and educational technology, like the Master of Science from St. Thomas University (STU), can make their classrooms more dynamic, enjoyable environments for students.

Trending Toward Technology

While the sudden transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for teachers and students, it revealed many of the benefits of tech-assisted learning. According to an EdTech article on emerging technologies in education, technology has "the potential to address complicated problems, such as equity and inclusion, feasibility and acceptance among faculty and staff, and the level of funding that institutions need for adoption." Additionally, tech-based learning can help students better engage in subject matter material and increase their likelihood of retaining what they've learned.

Transform Your Classroom

There are many options for teachers who want to incorporate technology into their curricula. The best place to start is by earning a relevant advanced degree, but here are some great suggestions for tech-curious educators:

  1. Hybrid Learning Models

"Hybrid learning" has become one of the biggest buzzword phrases in education since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the initial, widespread rollout of the ideal hybrid model was not without challenges, blended learning is here to stay. According to teachthought, "hybrid classrooms on the Internet can reach and engage students in a truly customizable way. In this scenario, online education is a game-changer, not just a supplement for the status quo." One of the major advantages of hybrid learning models is "flipping the classroom," in which students view video lessons or recorded lectures at home, so that educators can use in-person sessions for deeper, more hands-on learning. Other benefits include:

  • Students who are sick or physically unable to attend class are not excluded from the learning environment.
  • Students have more time for in-class mastery of skills.
  • Teachers can give students more effective, specific feedback.
  1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a variety of applications in educational and training settings. Currently, some of the most common uses for AI are focused on communicating or organizing information. Some examples include:

  • Management systems
  • Exams (grading and/or proctoring)
  • Disability support services
  • Library services

AI is also capable of improving the way students learn. The article titled "6 Emerging Technology Trends in Higher Education" cites an example from a Canadian university "using an AI-enabled avatar that delivers natural responses to students. The program is a part of a language learning application called Language Chatsim, where students practice speaking with an avatar in a virtual environment." This application is groundbreaking, as native conversation is critical when it comes to acquiring a foreign language. However, for AI in education, this is just the tip of the iceberg.          

  1. Virtual Reality

The applications for virtual reality in the classroom are also promising. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of virtual reality (VR) is its ability to give all students equal access to learning experiences. Schools in remote locations, or those with field trip budget constraints, can now allow students to make observations virtually. This option is vital because, as cited in an EmergingEdTech article, studies have shown that "participants that had explored virtual space were able to form a deeper cognitive association with science-based content and had an easier time retaining and recalling cause and effects."

VR also offers the following applications and benefits:

  • Allows students to virtually tour any museum in the world
  • Gives students access to tutors in any subject at any time
  • Creates a space where students can participate in peer-based learning with students anywhere in the world
  • Decreases the likelihood that students "drift" or "lose interest" during course meetings

Emerging technology is an exciting trend in the world of education. When integrated efficiently, EdTech can increase student engagement and transcend the limitations of a traditional classroom experience. Graduates of the Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology online program at St. Thomas University will be well equipped to lead their schools or districts into the new era of tech-assisted learning.

Learn more about St. Thomas University's Master of Science in Instructional Design & Technology online program.


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