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5 edtech trends to watch in 2021

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In 2020, there was an essential dependence on technology to facilitate remote education throughout school closures. Educators have seen more than ever how it helps them do their jobs better, engage students and improve behaviour.

According to the annual UKI State of Technology in Education Report, more tech is being used in even more creative ways in schools. This renewed confidence has encouraged 9 in 10 educators to believe tech and teaching will seamlessly combine in the future. So how is the future looking next year?

Among applying learnings from lockdown, we expect to see greater tech-savviness, smarter investments and improved accessibility. Here are 5 edtech trends to watch in 2021:

1. Improved information accessibility

With such advances in accessibility tools, technology greatly aids students with learning difficulties and disabilities. Greater edtech in schools supports disadvantaged students and overcomes unequal access to technology — both concerns which were exposed over lockdown.

Next year, expect to see more accessible information and knowledge through tech. This includes voice-to-text and text-to-voice tools that are especially helpful to pupils with dyslexia and other learning issues.

2. Circular economy of edtech

With improved tech-savviness but stretched budgets, schools are getting smarter with their edtech investments. It’s a necessity, too, as nearly half of SLT told our State of Technology in Education Report they expect budgets to make the year’s strategic goals harder to achieve.

To direct budget to where it’s most needed, next year more schools will learn to harness the edtech they already have. This means, instead of the common ‘buy, use, dispose’ approach, more schools will adopt a reuse model.

This could mean refurbishing devices or investing in upgradeable tech like a Promethean ActivPanel. This will create a more circular economy, and put schools in better control of their IT strategy.

3. Evidence-based tech procurement

As well as maximising their existing technologies, we expect schools to make more informed procurement decisions in 2021.

Schools are much more likely to invest in technology based on evidence that it supports their school’s learning requirements and challenges. At a time when budgets are incredibly tight, school leaders want to know that the technology they spend money on will support them the outcomes they need, as well as integrate easily within their existing infrastructure.

4. Tech to improve collaboration 

Technology that pupils use outside the classroom is collaborative and social, so why shouldn’t edtech mirror this?

According to our report, the use of collaborative tools like interactive panels and tablets continues to increase, together with apps — all of which have seen their highest use rates yet

More and more, educators expect edtech to foster connections between students and their peers. Technologies that encourage teamwork, collaboration and social skills will set children up with the soft skills to succeed in the workplace beyond education.

5. More ‘ed’. Less ‘tech’

For over a decade, there’s been an explosion in startup companies offering cutting-edge tech for schools. Many of these small enterprises will proudly demo technical capabilities, clever tricks and amazing graphics. Unfortunately, a large number forget to link their product back to a core pedagogy.

These tools have minimal longevity as they are too detached from the primary job that teachers do every day: planning, assessing and teaching. Now that educators see how technology can make their jobs easier and enrich their pupils’ learning, they have less time for gimmicks or fads.

Next year, in line with schools looking for evidence-based procurement, there will be a higher number of genuinely educational-based tools available. These will be entirely focused on learning goals and the curriculum. This means less funding for ‘one-trick pony’ edtech developments.

The State of Technology in Education Report 2020/21

Take a look at our most comprehensive education report to date. Half a decade of edtech, teaching and training trends — it’s a report like no other, from a year like no other.

View the report