The world of education has seen a lot of change over the years. Just look at the last few decades: blackboards have given way to interactive whiteboards, students have the internet at their fingertips, and CD-ROM encyclopaedias are a thing of the past.
And now, with the global pandemic forcing schools, colleges, and universities to rethink how they deliver teaching, education is starting to look very different.
More institutions are getting to grips with the rapid emergence of technological inventions, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and gamification. We’ve taken a look at just some of the innovations that will be reshaping education in the coming years.
Adaptive learning systems to personalise resources
In the past, educators have often taken a ‘one size fits all’ approach, providing all students with the same teaching styles - regardless of their ability or interest in a subject.
Today, it’s generally accepted that students learn differently, and will have individual needs and preferences. That’s where adaptive learning systems come in: this system provides students with personalised resources and activities to help them with their individual learning needs.
Previously, adaptive learning might have taken the form of private tuition or extra homework. Now, with a wealth of technology at their disposal, companies are turning their attention to how technology-based adaptive learning systems can be used in education.
Take Google, for instance. The technology giant is using adaptive learning technology to ‘build toward a more personal future for education’ (1). One of the new adaptive learning features the company is developing is called ‘Practice Sets in Google Classroom’. This allows teachers to give real-time feedback to interactive assignments, which helps give students personal attention and validation. One educator testing the feature found it ‘drove students’ intrinsic motivation and engagement through the roof.’ (2)
Artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools to accelerate learning
AI is no longer a thing of the future. From the advent of driverless cars to digital voice assistants, AI is increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives.
It’s also helping fuel educational tools such as Scholarcy, an AI-powered article summarizer that aims to help students and researchers keep on top of the latest research. Scholarcy takes the most salient points from complex research articles, book chapters or reports and turns them into shorter and easier to understand bite-sized sections.
The tool also harnesses the power of AI to suggest further background reading, extract important tables and graphs, and automatically highlight the most important parts of a paper.
Gamification in lessons to motivate students
Gamification is a strategy that ‘implements game-like elements into non-gaming activities to enhance engagement and motivation’ (3). This includes incentives such as trophies, points, and leaderboards.
Gamification itself isn’t a completely new thing. In fact, it’s the cornerstone of a lot of popular apps, including Duolingo, the language learning app that rewards users with points for each lesson they complete.
As education adopts a more digital-first approach and places an increased focus on student engagement, we can expect to see more gamification methods entering the classroom. This could be via an incremental progression system with different goals and challenges, or avatars that allow students to have an element of creativity and personal expression through their online learning personas. (4)
One real-life example of gamification in practice is the online platform BeeUp (5), created by two universities in St Gallen, Switzerland. Open to students aged 15 and over, BeeUp encourages them to ‘solve’ business case studies that are based on real-world problems experienced by BeeUp’s company partners. The platform itself is social and encourages students to collaborate in groups, but it also rewards students with a certificate in ‘business model innovation’ once they’ve solved 10 case studies (this is equivalent to 10 European Credit Transfers and Accumulation System points). Meanwhile, the points system used on the platform encourages engagement and motivation from students.
Virtual reality (VR) to open up opportunities
VR headsets allow the user to immerse themselves in different worlds and eras, from the surface of Jupiter to the Jurassic period. But, far from just being a recreational tool, VR is seen by many as the natural next step for the future of education. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2025 the VR in the education industry will have a $700 million value (6).
The potential for VR is three-fold. Firstly, it gives students the chance to experience things they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do, such as travel internationally to interact with world-famous historic sites - all from the comfort of their own classroom. Secondly, VR can also be used to simulate lifelike simulations in dangerous or complex situations, such as training to be a pilot or learning what it takes to be an engineer.
And, finally, there’s the social aspect VR offers. Over the last few years, education has become more and more flexible, with remote learning opportunities across the world. Students learning remotely can still enjoy the teaching experience: it’s hoped they will be able to picture themselves in interactive classrooms and even engage with others in campus-like virtual activities.
3D printing to prepare students for work
3D printing technology is already making its mark in healthcare settings and industry – everyone from engineers to surgeons are embracing the potential for 3D printing to bring designs to life. That’s why it’s even more important that students are taught all about this technology.
Nick Longford, Head of Business Development at Dremel DigiLab said, “the possibility to understand and pick up the 3D printing concept at a young age puts a serious advantage for the future generation since this technology is going to be a part of the world they come out to.” (7)
The art of 3D printing also has other benefits though, as it allows teachers to bring objects and ideas in textbooks to life. This ability to touch, feel and interact with three-dimensional objects can help students with a visual or kinesthetic learning approach.
With so much technology being applied to learning opportunities, the future of education has never looked so exciting. There’s no doubt that these inventions will provide plenty of useful learning opportunities for students all over the world and prepare them for the ever-evolving workplace.
 Google, 2022. Let’s get personal: adaptive learning tech and education [online] Available at: <https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/education/adaptive-learning-technology>, [Accessed 10 May 2022]
 Google, 2022. Let’s get personal: adaptive learning tech and education [online]
 FutureLearn, 2021.What is gamification in education? [online] Available at: <https://www.futurelearn.com/info/blog/general/gamification-in-education>, [Accessed 4 May 2022]
 World Government Summit, Gamification and the future of education [online], Available at: <https://www.worldgovernmentsummit.org/api/publications/document?id=2b0d6ac4-e97c-6578-b2f8-ff0000a7ddb6>, [Accessed 11 May 2022], page 8
 World Government Summit, Gamification and the future of education [online], page 21
 Engineering Institute of Technology, 2021. Is Virtual Reality the Future of Education? [online], Available at: <https://www.eit.edu.au/is-virtual-reality-the-future-of-education/#:~:text=A%20recent%20survey%20of%20teachers,according%20to%20the%20NGO%20eStudent>, [Accessed 12 May 2022]
 3D Printing Industry, 2020, Future plans to implement 3D printing in more schools, a Bett 2020 report [online], Available at: <https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/future-plans-to-implement-3d-printing-in-more-schools-a-bett-2020-report-167993/>, [Accessed 12 May 2022]