Let’s not talk of the year 2020 again. Yes, it has been hard. Yes, it was full of challenges. But yes, we learned a lot more from the year too. The year marked down for all the difficulties it posed upon the world, will also be marked for the transformations it brought about. This cannot be more prominent than in the field of education.

Enter the education sector. Look back at the year 2020. What is your first impression? Most difficult year of the century or the most defining year in the century? The pandemic upended the school systems across the globe. As educational institutes frenetically grappled with the changes, it is clear that the virus has amplified the need for an agile educational system. This has signalled a profound need for a change in the education system.

To prevail over the challenges posed by this disruption, educational institutions need to ensure that pedagogy, learning environment, curriculum and means of teaching are transformed to adapt to the changing landscape. Technology will play a pivotal role. Accepting the change to reimagine education and driving transformation in pedagogy is the need of the hour. Run with it or be left behind. It is our call.

Now that we have ventured into a new year and a new decade, let us look ahead and explore the key trends that will shape the education sector in 2021 and beyond.

1. “Schoolome” will be the future classroom: It is no longer schools in isolation. Studying from home will be an integral part of the education system. This has shown several benefits. Some things need to be refined and addressed as well. A balanced blend of study hours in school and home will define the physical space for learning. Furthermore, we should see a convergence of school side platforms that enable in-class teaching and student side platforms that enable at-home learning.

2. New Pedagogies will evolve: Pandemic has forced teachers to innovate new teaching methods. Peer learning, provocations, quizzes, blogs, podcasts, debates, polls, etc will drive pedagogical innovations for the future. Tech innovations will fuel and accelerate future pedagogies.

3. Teachers will act more like a guide by the side: Teachers will see a shift in their job descriptions. They will empower the students to seek knowledge, provoke them to debate and have a point of view, learn from everyone and everywhere and give guidance to distinguish between truth and fiction.

4. Transformation of physical to digital campuses will be inevitable: Building a paperless economy is not possible without building paperless schools- where students, the leaders of tomorrow, are already acquainted with technologies to manage their day to day activities. To build a digital campus, a suite of offerings that support academic and administrative processes need to be invented. Integrated, modular products will provide the flexibility to automate functions as per varied requirements. The advantages of digital campuses are many. They will not only take care of student as well as faculty lifecycle management but also ensure advanced administration, compliance & reduced operational costs.

1. The Dawn of regional EdTech: India has 22 languages, spoken by 96.71% of the population, and over 19,500 dialects, according to the 2011 Census. Despite this, English largely continues to dominate the web for the second-largest internet user base in the world.  However, the Ministry of Education’s recent decision to prepare a roadmap on imparting technical education in mother tongue is an indicator of the bright future for language inclusive courses. Pre-recorded lectures in the regional language, translation tools to decipher English content, curated games and system interface in local languages will be areas to focus on for the sector.

2. Gamified & Simulation-based customised learning: Having fun while learning makes the learner more alert and involved. Digital learning platforms need to appeal to learners of all ages. The adoption of gamification technology in form of simulation of concepts, incentive-based learning, level advancement badges and more will gain popularity to drive user engagement and enhance the learning experience. Besides, the integration of such technology will also help in developing and designing a more customised offering by analysing and evaluating an individual more thoroughly since every child’s learning needs are unique.

3. AI will help the industry to build new pedagogies: One can easily say that AI is the current in-thing, especially in the Education sector- because of its ability to automate activities. This enables both learners and educators to take feedbacks and monitor performance. Some schools use AI systems to monitor student progress and to alert teachers when there might be an issue with students’ performances.

Therefore, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that student expressions will start to indicate the alertness and even their understanding of the topic.

In conclusion, while these are some of the trends, there lies a long road ahead. Re-imagining education after the COVID-19 disruption involves carving a better future for all the stakeholders. The education ecosystem stakeholders need to initiate more reforms and drive transformation in the education sector to make it more adaptable in the new era. Technology in a classroom has always benefitted education. Making it more personalised, inclusive and intuitive will equip both teachers and students with necessary skills in years to come.

(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in Times of India. The original article can be found at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/new-year-new-decade-await-new-experiences-in-education-sector/)