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Disruptors Change Education Technology

By Zhou Mingfeng Marketing Manager, Marketing and Solution Sales Department, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

As we move through 2017 and beyond, it is appropriate to reflect upon the current status and future trends in the education market. During recent years, we have seen unprecedented integration of Education and Technology (EdTech), as educational influencers continue to reimagine and revitalize the industry by sharing knowledge and experiences with their digital campus solutions.

Mobile devices connected to the cloud are a disruptive way for students to customize eLearning at their own pace. What’s more, global educational products and service platforms have moved forward through collaborations and partnerships while strategic Venture Capital (VC) investments continue to pour billions of dollars into the educational ecosystem with the objective of forever changing the way people learn.

Mobilizing Blended Learning

Digital classrooms enabled by smart cloud platforms are replacing traditional teaching methods. Today’s students are less attracted to a steady diet of teacher-led classroom courses; they expect new educational software and tools to suit their needs. These students are prepared for and count on individual learning, online live classrooms, and webcasts that make full use of mobile technologies.

Traditional learning environments are not only limited to places like classrooms, libraries, and dormitories but face a lack of access to the types of resources commonly available online. A broader move to learner-centered education is shifting the role of teachers away from the traditional role of lecturing to a tutoring role in which they mentor students through customized curricula. The results are ‘blended learning’ environments that merge with smart educational platforms using student-centered instruction.

Blended learning combines classroom teaching with mobile smart devices for accessing resources and feedback anytime, anywhere. Schools empower EdTech by linking their physical and virtual campuses using digitized educational platforms with network access. This combined methodology also includes a progression toward network technologies built to support 4K video animation and multimedia learning tools. These forward-looking techniques support the goals of student-centered instruction by streamlining face-to-face interactions for distance education and vocational training.

Disrupting EdTech

Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) development and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play larger roles in the future of higher education. MOOC expands the number of students available online and facilitates the coordination of course program development for college and university education as well as vocational training services.

MOOC-provided curricula disrupt online education with ‘live’ courses. For some entities, the courses will be produced by teams made up of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working with film editors and code developers to convert videotaped lectures into on-demand courses.

The addition of AI to blended learning will create disruptive milestones for enhancing the efficiency of learning, improving the utilization of courseware resources, lowering educational costs, and promoting personalized learning. These EdTech solutions represent a big step forward on the learner-centered roadmap, easily providing real-time information everywhere along the education value chain.

Flipping Education Solutions

A ‘flipped’ classroom illustrates another typical example of blended learning. Students study at home on the Internet and then interact in the classroom with a teacher and fellow classmates who collaborate together to resolve problems and improve their knowledge base. Flipped classrooms turn extracurricular time into proactive learning activities. Content decisions are transferred from teachers to students who finish their studies after class by watching video lectures, listening to podcasts, reading eBooks with enhanced functions, or discussing topics with other students online. The goal of this approach is to allow teachers to spend more one-to-one time with each student.

Trending Innovations

Organizations and academic institutions worldwide are constantly searching for learning innovations that inspire. To move the industry forward, educational practitioners must exchange ideas and experiences to revitalize education through collaboration and partnerships. These educational influencers run the gamut from government officials to scholars, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and enterprises. Linking government to the educational marketplace helps bring the public and private sectors closer together.

The goal of many colleges is to build digital campus service platforms that center on quality mobile learning services. This shift fulfills students’ requirements for on-demand and personalized learning in addition to making quality educational resources readily available. To ensure that learners have access to mobile courses from any place on campus, the go-to-classroom strategy is for schools to digitize teaching resources and implement an online learning management platform linked with a comprehensive wireless network.

Connecting Smarter Schools

As the first step, a wireless campus network needs wireless access that ensures coverage for high-density access requirements in campus cafeterias, auditoriums, and other high-density-challenged buildings. Second, to ensure cyber security protection and distribute online resources, campuses need to choose solutions that can safeguard privacy and security against breaches. Moreover, the platforms need unified management of both wireless and wired networks to simplify campus network maintenance.

With the upsurge of wired campus networks, an increasing number of world-renowned universities, such as the U.K.’s Newcastle University, have established a 100G standard for their core network bandwidth. To expand the number of wireless users and increase the performance of wireless access, wireless networks now have Access Points (APs) that support 802.11ac Wave2, a technology that increases wireless speeds to a theoretical maximum. Distance education allows communication with a growing number of users in the same frequency band at the same time and is on track to becoming a mainstream standard. Wireless interactive whiteboards will also become everyday teaching tools with this increased connectivity.

Investing Impacts Worldwide EdTech

This past year has seen significant monetary infusion into the education industry. Disruptive technologies undoubtedly will continue to change learning solutions as well. For instance, a live cloud technology service provider is positioned to offer live online interactive broadcast services for educational and training schools that could result in a classroom product hosted in the cloud.

Smart Virtual Reality (VR) glasses and headgear are now being used as mobile Internet teaching devices for futuristic science, medical, and educational training purposes. By combining Augmented Reality (AR) with EdTech, companies and content providers are envisioning a completely immersive teaching model. Also in the works is the merging of Bluetooth-equipped smartphones with Internet of Things (IoT) smart education functions to complement connected homes and Smart Cities.

The IoT will eventually help automate tasks with tools for taking notes, checking schedules, and doing research. Universities are transitioning to connected devices that monitor students, staff, and resources to reduce operating costs and save money. Connectivity allows professors to gather data about students and customize lesson plans for future classes. These tracking capabilities will also protect and create safer campuses.

Making eLearning Fun

Advances in recommendation engines for analyzing and predicting student performance have received many strategic investments. Self-adaptive study engines that dynamically adjust also have new global investors. Meanwhile, financing intelligent speech technologies with smart audio and sound solutions demonstrates the impact of smarter speech recognition for online education.

In China, strategic cooperation is responsible for creating an educational design solution with a search engine that specializes in natural language processing, data mining, and sorting algorithms. A smart piano App uses a smart electric piano, online courses, and interactive learning with funding by famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

Through his venture firm Bryant-Stibel, former Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar Kobe Bryant made a multi-million dollar strategic investment into Beijing-based VIPKID, financing an educational brand that teaches Chinese children to learn English online.

Investing in Tomorrow’s Education

Clearly, disruptive influences are reshaping the future of education. Smarter educational institutions will also benefit from greener energy efficiency and lower Operating Expenses (OPEX), as evidenced by smart sensors and devices that are being installed to allow automated control of equipment and classroom lighting. For education industry leaders as well as EdTech disruptors, perhaps the time is right for further investments in the education industry.

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