April 20, 2023
Emerging Technology Trends in The Education Sector
What We Learnt from Bett 2023.
March saw the annual Bett expo take place in London. Originally the British Education Training and Technology show, the organisation has grown to become a global community for education technology.
The modern workplace is now almost entirely digital. Software is used for everything from communication and file management to the automation of processes and of course, contracts and agreements. CRM platforms are also becoming standard for any company that holds large amounts of client or customer data.
But for the Education sector, making the switch to fully digital processes has been slower. This can be attributed to several factors; a lack of regulatory framework to ensure compliance and generally thin resources for many educational institutions mean that while there are plenty of innovative ways technology can augment teaching, tangible uptake has been slow.
The Bett expo links educators and institutions with these technological innovations through product demos, trials, thought leadership talks and networking opportunities. The show is now a leading force driving digital adoption and innovation in education, so we went along to see what the emerging technological trends are, and how digitisation is helping the sector.
Process Consolidation Through MISs
One of the central themes of the Bett ’23 expo was the increased use of platforms to manage data. Similar to CRMs (customer relationship management platforms) but tailored specifically to the Education sector are platforms called Management Information Systems (MIS).
Management Information Systems are a growing force because they provide a single platform that consolidates the multiple complex processes required by educational institutions. Consolidating processes with a CRM can be game-changing for businesses, and the same benefits ring true for educational institutions too. Central platforms minimise errors, help with data compliance and crucially, link information from separate areas of a business or institution. This helps get a better overview of what’s going on, and the data can be used for several purposes. At Bett, a key area for data was how it can be used to provide a more personalised learning experience for students.
Within MIS’s, educational institutions can manage almost all their educational and workflow requirements, both internally and student facing. This obviously encompasses a number of different elements, depending on the needs of each educational institute, but broadly speaking, MISs’ can manage:
Billing & Payments
Permissions & Waivers
Surveys, Quizzes & Tests
As with leading CRM platforms in the business world, MISs are developed with the flexibility to fit a variety of different workflow requirements. Their primary purpose though, is in providing a centralised platform where all processes can be consolidated.
Several leading MIS providers were present at Bett 2023, including Classter, PowerSchool and Tes. As the market continues to grow, the flexibility of these platforms to manage different student and educator requirements will be a key element in driving more widespread adoption.
Technology to Engage Students and Deliver Education
Another central theme at the Bett expo was how technology can be used to deliver enhanced education and engagement with students.
In 2021, 96% of 16-24 year olds had a smartphone, and while concerns around high-usage remain, it makes sense that an emerging trend in education is to use digital devices to increase student engagement.
At Bett, this was explored through several different avenues, each with its own potential application. Gamification and eSports were high on the agenda, as was the Internet of Things (IoT), and how the collected data from many connected devices can personalise education.
Digitally augmented classrooms may not be accessible for all institutions just yet, but there were many different use-cases for technology in teaching on display at Bett.
AVer has a focus on augmented reality, with visualisers and cameras that provide additional digital information and pictures from physical objects, projected to larger screens in the classrooms. The accompanying handheld tablets for students can be stored in a purpose-built cart that syncs files and charges them overnight. The tablets are designed for multiple young person users and have safeguarding tools as standard.
CleverTouch connects large display devices around schools to a single network, allowing educators to deliver consistent interactive, touch-screen content and messages on whiteboard sized displays to students. Apps on their app store are pre-approved to conform to UK curriculums, so teachers can have confidence the apps they use are child safe.
This running theme of digital tools to engage and enhance learning was also seen elsewhere with STEM tools like Labdisc. A small handheld device with multiple built in sensors, Labdisc lets students collect and analyse data in a hand-on, digital device.
Outside of learning, the assessment and exam portion of learning being digitised was also represented by the likes of SmarTest, an all-in-one examination suite for institutes to deliver, invigilate and manage remote online and offline exams.
With digitisation on offer from the classroom to the exam room, another overarching theme of Bett was the Internet of Things (IoT). This is a reference to the sometimes-nebulous concept that there are millions of devices all connected to the internet collecting and sharing data. In education terms, IoT refers broadly to the idea that as more digital devices are used, the data they gather can be used to deliver learning tailored to individual students.
Alongside this personalised learning is the way that technology can be used to help students learn new concepts like computer programming. Luxrobo makes modular magnetic robotic kits, enabling students to learn the basis of coding via intuitive drag-and-drop code blocks.
Wearable technology too is improving, and physical concepts continue to be augmented by technology. The IoT could help with reports, along with distance and personalised learning, even developing into ‘smart classrooms’, where AR and VR tech provide a more immersive learning experience for students.
Of course, with more digital devices entering classrooms, the need for ruggedised, durable equipment was also a theme at Bett!
Network Security, Reliability & GDPR
As educational institutions, students and teachers continue to increase their use of technology, the reliance on secure, robust networks was also discussed at Bett ’23. Included in this discussion were sub-themes around GDPR, wireless network management, and the use of AI in diagnostic systems.
Without network stability and a high percentage uptime, any benefits that may come from technology or the IoT will be negated. Providing the infrastructure necessary to support technology assisted learning is therefore a primary concern for institutions, and a potential barrier towards adoption.
At Bett, emerging AI technology to help IT teams maintain a stable network for high-volume processes was on show, as were several leading cyber security platforms on the ‘Cybersecurity and Safeguarding Trail’ that attendees could take.
Network security and stability should be a big consideration as the Education sector moves towards technology. Holding and processing the data of minors, adolescents, parents and teachers comes with serious GDPR responsibilities. And while many cloud-based platforms deal with the regulatory compliance their end, it’s important that there are people internally who also understand the commitments of a data processor under GDPR.
What’s Next for Technology in Education?
At the start we touched upon the sometimes-slow uptake of technology in education, but it was reassuring to see organisations like Bett ensuring that when institutions do digitise processes, there are appropriate platforms, measures and infrastructure in place for healthy adoption.
A seamless transition is central to a successful uptake. Modern UX and UI design has a focus on easy user journeys, and app integration will help ease the transition to the digital space for students and pupils alike.
Starting with an MIS to centralise workflows is a great first step for schools, universities and other educational establishments adopting technology. Building a structured foundation will make it easier to slowly introduce more digital elements into the classroom.
eSignature can also be a part of an MIS for schools, with uses for parent waivers, registration and internal onboarding. There are flexible options for integration with MISs and other existing platforms, or easy access through a web app.
To find out more about integrating eSignature to your workflow, get in touch with one of the team today.