The world is advancing at a rapid pace and not only in engineering and manufacturing but also in education. Thanks to better and more widespread internet access and emerging technologies, the way children, youth and adults will learn in the future is changing. In this article, we look at education and how social, economic, and technological changes will revolutionise how we learn at school or university.
The Future Of Education With Emerging Technologies
Modern education has followed the same model for over three hundred years but a big transition is coming in the shape of emerging technologies. It has already started but a major shift is likely to take place in 2050. This transition is similar to what’s happening in terms of governance, the economy, and recreation with these four major factors impacting the field of education:
- Improved internet access across the globe
- Technological advancements in various sectors
- Distributed living and learning
- A bigger emphasis on problem-solving and gamification
With the rise of emerging technologies, the next generation of students will see future education as more of playtime than traditional schooling.
Better Internet Access For A Growing Global Population
According to a report by the United Nations called “World Population Prospects 2019“, the global population could reach 9.74 billion by mid-century. With a population of around 5.29 billion, Asia will still be the most populated continent on the planet but Africa will experience the most growth. Currently, Africa has a population of 1.36 billion which experts predict could almost double by 2050 to 2.5 billion.
In another report from 2018, the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stated that 90% of the global population will have access to broadband internet services by 2050. This is largely due to the increased number of mobile devices and satellite internet services. That means 8.76 billion people will have access to 4 billion today which is a mammoth 220% increase. Most of these new users will come from “developing nations” such as Africa, South America, and Oceania.
A More Connected Global Society
The internet is only getting bigger with more devices, cameras, sensors, homes and cities. This will create a massive expansion in machine learning and AI considering the astronomical amount of data that this will generate. Emerging technologies will be the best way to keep track of everything, find patterns and even predict future trends.
AI will also advance due to extensive research into the human brain and biotechnology. This will lead to neural net computing which is much closer to the real thing. Advanced research will lead to more advanced versions of Neuralink with neural implants helping with neurological disorders and brain injuries while also allowing for brain-to-machine interfacing.
This means people will no longer need a computer to perform all the tasks they currently do. For those who don’t want neural implants, there will be smart glasses, smart contact lenses, and wearable devices.
Distance Learning And Developing Nations
Remote work and distance learning need no introduction as the coronavirus forced workplaces and schools to close. This was a major driving force for the growth of online learning and it’s only going to increase. A report from February 2020 by Research and Markets indicated that by 2025, the online education market would be valued at approximately $320 billion.
This represents a 170% growth and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.23% since 2019. At the time the e-learning industry was valued at $187.87 billion. Much of this growth will be as a result of economic progress and rising populations in developing nations. Online education is already considered a cost-effective way to address the rising demand for education in developing countries.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
The predicted growth of internet access by 2050 will be accompanied by a massive boost in online learning. MOOCs and other forms of e-learning will eventually replace traditional distance education.
According to Our World In Data, the number of people without any formal education will drop from 10% to 5% globally between 2020 and 2050. However, the number of people with a primary and lower secondary education is expected to remain largely unchanged.
The story continues to be positive for developing nations as distributed learning systems will offer access and flexibility that traditional education cannot. This especially applies to many remote areas where the necessary infrastructure doesn’t always exist, including roads, school buses, schools etc.
The Growth Of Emerging Technologies
In addition to a global internet structure, a handful of emerging technologies will also make education more virtual, immersive and hands-on. These technologies include the following:
- Augmented reality (AR)
- Virtual reality (VR)
- Cloud computing
- Machine learning and AI
Whilst augmented reality refers to interactions with computer-enhanced physical environments showing sound and image overlays, by 2050 the line between simulation and reality will barely be distinguishable. This is largely due to advances in “haptics,” which refers to technology stimulating our senses. It’s currently limited to stimulating the sensation of touch and the perception of motion.
Emerging Technologies In Education
Considering the advancements in technology, haptics, AR, and VR are expected to combine and create totally realistic immersive environments. In addition to touch and motion, these environments will stimulate all the senses including sound, taste and smell. It will also include somatosensory perception such as pressure, pain and temperature.
These emerging technologies could mean simulations allowing students to go back in time (virtually) and visit a specific time and place in history. They will get to see and feel what it was like to live in another era with the necessary safety measures in place.
This could extend even further beyond virtual environments allowing students to visit places all around the world and experience what it feels like to be there. It could even be possible to pair this technology with remote-access robotic hosts which will act like the local environment and people so students can physically interact with everything.
AI-Driven, Virtual Classes
With the sheer amount of data that requires processing, AI-driven diagnostic assessments will likely replace traditional grading, tests, and exams. Instead of getting a letter grade or pass/fail evaluations, future students will have to meet certain requirements to unlock new levels in their education.
Students will also have better access to classrooms which means teachers no longer have to be physically present. By 2050, virtual teachers will likely become a real job description. However, it could also result in virtual or robotic teachers and education assistants considering the speed at which AI and social robotics are growing.
Emerging technologies will change the future of work as it reflects the kind of tasks students perform. For this reason, students will spend a lot of time learning how to code, build robots, take apart and reassemble complex machines and do other tasks to enhance their STEM skills.
Emerging Technologies And Personalised Curriculums
Professions that will emerge between now and 2050 will play a vital role in student education. Considering the importance of additive manufacturing (3D printing), space travel, renewable energy, blockchains, and digital applications, students will undoubtedly learn more about this.
School curriculums could likely become more decentralised as a result of technological changes. Education in the future might abandon compartmentalised study altogether in favour of blended learning activities.
Gamification And Problem Solving
Gamification is another important part of education and emerging technologies. Education is expected to become “gamified” such as the philosophy behind Ad Astra. This private school was created by Elon Musk and educator Joshua Dahn for Musk’s children and all the employees of SpaceX.
This school is now Astra Nova, which follows the same philosophy but is open to the general public. Their emphasis is on destructured learning with a particular focus on problem-solving. Here’s what Elon Musk had to say in a 2013 interview:
“What is education? You’re basically downloading data and algorithms into your brain. And it’s actually amazingly bad in conventional education because it shouldn’t be like this huge chore. The more you can gamify the process of learning, the better. For my kids, I don’t have to encourage them to play video games. I have to pry them out of their hands.”
It seems that by 2050, most students around the world may no longer have to physically attend classes to get an education. Instead, they could log in from home, a common room in their building, or a dedicated space within the community. Students will engage in problem-solving tasks, virtual tours, and hands-on activities compared to traditional education models.
Emerging technologies present millions of students the opportunity for a brighter future for themselves and others. For many younger children, it will also create a new experience of learning about the world beyond their doorstep. It will help facilitate the kind of changes that will benefit everyone, not only now but well into the future.