Emerging Trends in Education: Preparing for Now and Later

October 21, 2022

Nneka McGee

Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

A student using a VR headset in the classroom

Over the course of any given school year, teachers are always being introduced to the latest in technology tools guaranteed to make educating students more efficient while improving outcomes. The number of available tools is staggering, but there are few that have the potential to completely reshape the landscape of education. There are three emerging trends gaining prominence in education: virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are usually joined together in discussions. However, there are distinctions between the two technologies. With virtual reality, individuals are immersed in artificial simulations while augmented reality provides enhanced visuals within real-world environments. Specialized headsets are necessary to access virtual reality simulations, but users can view augmented reality products using tools such as tablets and mobile phones.

Integrating VR and AR usually means giving students the opportunity to see and experience what they’re learning in an incredibly immersive way. Teachers can bring science concepts to life by displaying them via AR. There are apps that utilize AR to project information over what a device’s camera is pointing at. There are also historical events that have been recreated in VR that allow students to get a sense of what it felt like to actually live through them.

Artificial Intelligence

When most people think of artificial intelligence and its connection to education, images of robots replacing teachers come to mind. In reality, artificial intelligence is not advanced enough to replace teachers. Instead, artificial intelligence programs are used for adaptive learning systems and other applications designed to individualize support and add efficiency to educational processes. For example, plagiarism software uses artificial intelligence to analyze and detect potential inappropriate copying.

Preparing for the Future in the Present

Despite the expansion of technology integration in education, educators will not need computer science degrees to navigate emerging educational pathways. There are already practical uses of virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence in education, and several resources are available to learn about these technologies.

The International Society for Technology in Education offers introductory information on artificial intelligence and free guides with classroom activities. For educators who want to delve deeper into emerging technologies, American College of Education offers various programs focused on educational technology, including a M.Ed. in Educational Technology, a Certificate in Virtual Education and micro-credentials in Educational Technology and Digital Teaching and Learning.To paraphrase President Abraham Lincoln, the best way to know the future of education is to prepare for it.

Explore American College of Education’s fully online education programs.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Nneka McGee
Nneka McGee, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Nneka J. McGee is an innovative educator, researcher and advocate dedicated to creating and promoting pathways that provide students access and opportunities to navigate a future driven by automation and artificial intelligence. Prior to earning her Ed.D. at American College of Education, Nneka obtained a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a juris doctorate. As part of her doctoral studies, she researched the experiences of K-12 teachers implementing or planning to implement artificial intelligence in classroom learning environments. She is a sought-after speaker on artificial intelligence in education and has shared her work as a panelist or presenter at national, state, regional and local conferences. Nneka is a proud member of HAKing Innovation’s Board of Directors, a non-profit, social impact organization on a mission to create a community of technical talent by exposing students to STEM experiences. She also serves as an AI practitioner advisory board member for the Engage AI Institute and was selected as an EdSAFE AI Alliance Fellow.

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