Personalised education could revolutionise the traditional education system by tailoring learning experiences to students, and new and emerging educational technology (edtech) is already playing a vital role. Aldenham Education Group’s Managing Partner, Shahram Hashemi, has years of experience in the education sector, and last month he was invited by the globally-renowned non-profit Qatar Foundation to speak at the Global Education Forum & WISE @ Medellin Conference to shed some light on the future of education. The benefits of personalised learning include increased accessibility and a boost in engagement, but there are still challenges such as data privacy and an increased workload for teachers. By harnessing the power of edtech, we’re paving the way for a more effective and student-centred educational experience.
The impact of edtech
Education has changed drastically over the past few years, and thanks to technological innovations, it’s evolving fast. AI in particular has come on in leaps and bounds, and has transformed the education sector. Despite school districts around the world banning AI tools like ChatGPT, AI has tremendous potential and could help personalise education. Some countries, like the UAE, have already begun working on guidelines and policies to help AI tools elevate the education system. AI algorithms analyse students’ data – everything from their grades and exam results to their learning styles and preferences. This data can be used to help students – algorithms can recognise pupils’ strengths and weaknesses, and teachers can then use this information to create personalised curriculums, or lesson plans tailored to each pupil.
VR can offer students a more interactive learning experience, and improve student engagement. It can be used in subjects like science, history, and geography, taking students back in time or to different parts of the world without leaving the classroom, giving them unique perspectives that they wouldn’t have otherwise have had. Pilots and medical professionals have been using VR technology to train for years, but it’s only recently that the technology has entered the classroom. VR technology can even incorporate multi-sensory elements to give students visual, auditory, and even tactile feedback. Not every student learns the same way – while some would learn more from books, others benefit from being fully immersed in a virtual world.
Benefits of personalised learning
By breaking down barriers and providing students with equal opportunities, personalised learning makes education more accessible. Teachers can tailor their lessons to students’ individual needs and preferences, meaning students learn at their own pace. Personalised learning also allows for targeted support and intervention, ensuring students receive the assistance they need. This approach will help to bridge the educational inequality gap, which only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a UNICEF report from last year, 147 million children had missed more than half of their in-person schooling because of the pandemic – amounting to 2 trillion hours lost. A more personalised approach to education would give underserved communities and students with special needs a more rounded experience.
The traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach to education can fail to meet students’ diverse needs. Taking a more customised learning experience empowers students – they don’t have to hurry through subjects they find challenging, or waste time on topics they already understand. By giving students content specifically tailored towards them, teachers enhance students’ comprehension and knowledge retention skills. Individualised feedback also gives students more guidance, helping them track their progress and address areas that need improvement. This way, teachers foster higher levels of student engagement, helping students to feel more connected to their education journey.
Challenges and considerations
While personalised learning holds immense promise, it also presents a number of challenges – particularly for teachers. Creating personalised curriculums, lesson plans, and assessments for each one of their students can be time-consuming and demanding. A YouGov survey revealed that 87% of teachers already had issues related to workload pressures. In order to fully harness the benefits of personalised learning, educators require adequate training and support. Investing in professional development programs, and providing educators with the necessary resources and tools, are essential steps for governments and private education companies, if they want to ensure the success of their personalised learning approaches.
Since personalised learning relies heavily on the collection and analysis of student data, there are concerns and ethical considerations over data privacy. Safeguarding student data is of utmost importance to protect their privacy and maintain trust, particularly with cyber crime on the rise. Last year in the UK, 41% of primary schools surveyed reported they’d suffered a data breach or a cyber attack. It’s important for educational institutions to establish strict data privacy policies to protect students, and to ensure responsible use of edtech tools like AI and VR.
Aldenham’s approach to education
At Aldenham Education Group’s schools, including Aldenham School in the UK and Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, we’ve embraced a personalised learning approach. We’ve recognised that learning needs to be enjoyable, engaging, and (more importantly) fun, especially for younger children. Our approach to learning ensures that all pupils learn at their own pace, and according to their own styles. We’ve also embraced modern technology wherever we can, especially in the classroom. Tools such as interactive screens, computers, and state-of-the-art VR systems ensure we offer our pupils a learning experience that’s adaptable and flexible.
Personalised learning makes learning more immersive for students, increasing their engagement and improving their academic performance. As Shahram Hashemi explained while on stage at the Global Education Forum & WISE @ Medellin Conference, “With this technology, we can make sure that each child gets the needs that they require. We can customise the education and support the kids that are behind.” He also shared that AEG has begun working closely with top-tier consulting firms, to develop a strategy on how we can get more of these edtech technologies into our schools, and make our learning more effective.
Personalised learning holds immense potential, and is already beginning to reshape the future of education. By leveraging the power of edtech, we can create inclusive, student-centred learning environments that cater to the diverse needs of today’s pupils. Educators, policymakers, and edtech developers must work together to ensure education is as inclusive and effective as possible. By investing in a personalised learning approach, schools invest in the future of students, empowering them to thrive in an ever-changing world. To find out more about how AEG prepares pupils for life after graduation, visit Aldenham’s website.
In recent years, the world witnessed a significant surge in the adoption of educational technology – more popularly known as edtech. The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and educational institutions to quickly adapt to the new normal of remote learning, leading to an unprecedented demand for digital tools and platforms. This boom (often referred to as the ‘pandemic bump’) revolutionised the education sector. Aldenham Education Group’s Managing Partner, Shahram Hashemi, has years of experience in both the education and investment sectors – last month, the globally-renowned non-profit Qatar Foundation invited him to the Global Education Forum & WISE @ Medellin Conference to shed some light on the future of education. Will edtech continue to grow and innovate, or was it a necessity during the pandemic? And as the world returns to normality, it raises the question – what’s next for edtech? Shahram Hashemi took to the stage at the international event to share his expertise and insights, and explain how today’s academic institutions are shaping the future of education.
The growth of edtech
GEF & Wise brought together education leaders and experts from across the globe, and all of them agreed that the pandemic had a drastic effect on schools – as they were forced to close, there was a rapid shift to remote learning. This caused problems at first, as many schools had never offered their students any kind of remote learning before 2020. Schools and teachers had to alter the way they taught students, and they turned to new rising technologies like AI or VR. These and other edtech innovations make learning more effective, both in and out of the classroom. The increased demand for this technology drove innovation, which in turn drove investment. In 2021, the global edtech industry saw almost $21 billion (£16.7 billion) of funding from venture capitalists – far more than in 2019, which saw just $7 billion (£5.5 billion) go towards edtech businesses.
The pandemic might be over, but many believe it’s reshaped the education sector forever. As schools have reopened and students have returned to classrooms, there’s been a shift towards hybrid learning models, which combine in-person teaching with digital tools. The pandemic highlighted the benefits of online learning, such as flexibility and accessibility, and these advantages are here to stay. Edtech is set to play a crucial role in supporting the transition to hybrid learning – with many schools seamlessly integrating technology into their classrooms. Here at Aldenham’s schools, we always look to the future and seek out new ways of utilising new technology in our schools. At Aldenham Prep Riyadh, all of our classrooms have interactive screens to enhance students’ learning experience, while the school’s Learning Resource Center features computers and a VR system, so students can engage with new subjects in immersive ways.
One of the biggest benefits of edtech lies in its ability to personalise education, and allow teachers to cater to individual students’ needs. With AI-powered adaptive learning technologies, teachers can analyse student data and create individual curriculums designed around each student’s strengths and weaknesses. This more tailored approach helps students to learn at their own pace, and be better equipped to overcome challenges. There’s been a lot of advancements in AI in recent years, and although schools have banned AI chatbots like ChatGPT, this technology is set to transform the education sector. If the edtech industry continues to grow, we can expect to see more advancements around AI and personalised learning.
Although edtech grew exponentially throughout the pandemic, that growth appears to have stunted post-pandemic. In fact, 2023 has been dubbed ‘edtech’s year of reckoning.’ A recent report by HolonIQ found that last year, there was $10.6 billion (£8.4 billion) of investment in edtech – around 49% of the investment in 2021. With schools around the world no longer forced to use edtech solutions to teach their students, many stopped using edtech altogether, and many edtech companies have scaled back. Despite this fall in investment, there’s still demand for edtech, and with new advances in technology all the time, new companies are springing up and offering innovative solutions. Edtech is increasingly important, as it teaches students valuable skills, and gets them more engaged in their education, setting them up for later life. At Aldenham, we aim to support our children as much as possible, and pride ourselves on investing in the latest edtech and cutting-edge facilities wherever possible.
The future of edtech
A paper in Nature Human Behaviour found that students lost out on about 35% of a normal school year’s worth of learning over the course of the pandemic. Governments and organisations around the world need to work to make learning more accessible for students, and edtech is the most effective way of achieving this. While the pandemic accelerated the adoption of edtech, it also exposed the digital divide that exists among students worldwide.
UNESCO reported that at least 463 million – or nearly one-third – of students around the world don’t have the right devices or reliable connections, and can’t access remote learning facilities. As the edtech sector continues to grow, work needs to be done to address this issue and bridge this digital divide. Governments and educational institutions alike need to be investing in edtech companies to ensure no student is left behind. AEG has expert first-hand knowledge of the education market, and we can offer guidance for edtech businesses. One way of supporting edtech firms is by trialling new technologies in schools – not only do schools and students benefit from using these solutions, but edtech firms also get much-needed feedback to be as effective as possible.
The pandemic brought edtech into the spotlight, showcasing its potential to transform education. With the pandemic now over, the future of edtech lies in hybrid learning, personalised learning, and making education more accessible for all. While there are challenges, edtech offers a brighter future for education. We need to be working towards creating a more inclusive learning environment for all students, just as we strive to do here at Aldenham. To find out more about what edtech trends you should be looking out for, have a read of one of our recent blogs.
Despite only being around for a few months now, ChatGPT has already had a huge impact on several industries – and could potentially transform the way that we interact with computers in our day-to-day lives. Not only can this AI tool write articles and essays, but it can also write computing code. While it may worry some, by working closely with ChatGPT, schools could make huge changes to the way students learn.
What is ChatGPT?
Everybody’s been talking about ChatGPT since it was launched in November 2022 – in fact, 100 million people around the world have used it since then. If you haven’t used it yet, or if you’ve only ever heard the name, ChatGPT stands for ‘Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer.’ It’s a large language model, a kind of AI algorithm trained to understand and use language. Created by OpenAI, it can generate human-like answers to questions, and is capable of conversing on a huge range of topics. As well as answering questions, it can offer guidance and recommendations, and even write an essay or an article from scratch with just a simple brief. While it has a lot of benefits, many people are concerned about the impact that it could have – especially on today’s education system.
ChatGPT in schools
Ever since it launched, the effect of ChatGPT has got people worrying. Journalists, writers, computer programmers and graphic designers think AI tools could soon replace them. No one, however, is more concerned than teachers and others working in the education sector. Most people are fearful of ChatGPT’s impact on students, who could use it to cheat, and get it to write essays and do their homework for them. The way that ChatGPT generates original text means that it won’t be spotted by software that’s been designed to detect plagiarised content. In fact, some schools have already made the decision to ban ChatGPT. In the US, New York City’s Department of Education blocked it on all school devices and networks, citing concerns from teachers. A department spokesperson Jenna Lyle explained, “While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success.”
How have schools used it?
While banning ChatGPT might initially seem like a good idea, it may not be the most sensible action for schools to take. For one thing, it could drive more students to use it, encouraging them to find ways of getting around the ban. AI is quickly becoming a part of everyday life, so today’s students need to be learning how to use it now to ensure they’re not left behind. As Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, pointed out, “kids in school today are going into jobs where not everyone they work with is human.” Rather than banning it, schools should be using ChatGPT and working with it.
It could be a powerful educational tool – and some teachers have already realised this. While some educators worried about the impact of ChatGPT, others began using it in the classroom, and incorporating it in their own lessons. For example, it can be used to help students write better, teaching them how to and think critically and analyse texts. Rather than getting ChatGPT to write essays, some teachers have used it to teach their students how to structure essays, by using the tool to create essay outlines, and then write out the essays by hand. This can help students gain a better understanding of the topic they’re learning about, and teach them how to make the most of an AI tool like ChatGPT at the same time. As well as helping students, ChatGPT can also help teachers. They can use it to automate repetitive tasks, like creating lesson plans, and even use it to personalise the learning experience for their students. By giving ChatGPT all the data it requires, teachers can create customised learning plans that cater to each student’s individual needs.
The importance of using technology
It’s important for schools to strike a balance with ChatGPT, and not ban it. Last month, it was announced that International Baccalaureate students were allowed to use AI-generated content in their essays. In the Middle East, meanwhile, the UAE’s education authorities have begun drafting guidelines on how generative AI technology could be used in schools – including using GPT-powered AI tutors in classrooms. Although ChatGPT is still in its early stages, it will continue to develop. The latest version of ChatGPT, GPT-4, was released just a few weeks ago, and is far more advanced than the previous version, so it’s difficult to predict how we’ll be able to use it in a few years’ time.
At Aldenham Education Group, we’ve always strived to offer our students the latest technologies. Not only does this help our students to engage with their education more, but it makes learning more accessible, and provides them with countless opportunities. By helping our students to learn new skills, and keep up with fast-paced technological changes, we’re preparing them for a world that does not yet exist. It’s why we’re embracing ChatGPT by learning how to incorporate it effectively both within the classroom and for our students in their own study time rather than exercising a knee-jerk ban out of fear.
This can be seen throughout our schools – at Aldenham School in the UK, for example, students can use a brain scanner in their Psychology lessons, and even learn how to write software in Computer Science. Students at our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, use interactive whiteboards in their lessons, and can access a VR system and video production software in the Learning Resource Centre. Our Computer Science students go on regular field trips to continue their learning and find out about some of the latest technological advances, visiting TechHub Incubators and showcasing what they’ve learned.
With the rise of ChatGPT, the age of artificial intelligence is here, and schools need to work with it rather than against it. While the new technology is disruptive, it’s here to stay, and it offers a range of benefits. Although we have over 400 years of tradition here at Aldenham, we’re constantly looking to the future, and have seen how technology can help our students to flourish. ChatGPT is just one of the many tools that could transform education – have a read of one of our recent blogs to see what other educational trends you should be watching out for.
From watching Netflix or YouTube and playing games to talking to friends and learning online, much of children’s lives revolve around screens. Students’ screen time is on the rise around the world, and parents and teachers alike are worried about the effect that screens could have on children’s education. But is it always such a bad thing?
The rise in screen time
Last year, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that the average amount of time children spent staring at screens during the pandemic had risen by 52%. Whereas the average child had an approximate screen time of 162 minutes a day, during the pandemic that number had risen to 246 minutes. During the pandemic, our schools were required to move online, which posed challenges, but we were still able to offer our students the high-quality education they’d come to expect. We weren’t only teaching online, but organising competitions and running virtual field trips. These days, with the Covid-19 pandemic largely behind us, that figure will likely fall. However, since technology is now an integral part of all of our lives, screens have gone on to become a daily companion for students.
The benefits of students’ screen time
When you ask yourself if too much time in front of a device or screen is a bad thing for children, the only real answer is that it’s complicated. While excessive usage of screens could have a negative impact, how children are using them can determine how much of an impact they can have – after all, not all screen time is created equal. In a 2019 study, Australian researchers identified five different categories of how we can interact with screens – social, passive, interactive, educational, and other. Passive screen use, such as watching TV or scrolling through social media, can be detrimental to a child’s development – it can affect their creativity and lead to social development problems, making it difficult for them to interact with their peers.
On the other hand, active screen time – such as educational programs and interactive learning – can be far more beneficial to students than passively consuming content. This can provide numerous benefits for students – interactive screens can be more engaging, helping students to retain information better and understand their material. Technology like screens can also encourage collaboration among students, through online discussions and shared documents, which can develop teamwork and communication skills. Screens and technology can provide students with access to a wealth of resources that they may not have otherwise, including online libraries, virtual museums, and educational videos. In a world that’s becoming increasingly reliant on technology, students using screens for educational purposes are able to develop important digital skills that will be valuable in their future careers. We take a forward-thinking approach at Aldenham Education Group, in order to prepare our students as best as we can for life after school.
How technology can be used in schools
One of the key benefits of technology and screens in education is their interactivity, which can help make students more engaged. For example, interactive screens in classrooms can be used to create an immersive learning experience that encourages participation and collaboration. By working together on projects, students can share ideas and receive immediate feedback, all of which can enhance the learning process. At our network of Aldenham schools, we always use cutting-edge technology, including interactive screens in classrooms. Our latest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, is also home to a Learning Resource Centre, where students can make use of computers and a 3D printer – we always embrace modern technology, especially when it can enhance the learning of our pupils. In ICT lessons, meanwhile, students work together on projects, teaming up and even sharing devices, to ensure they’re not in their own world, glued to a screen. When it comes to learning, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and we encourage our students to collaborate and communicate.
It is crucial, however, to ensure screens are always used responsibly, both at home and at school. It’s important for parents and teachers alike to set boundaries and establish rules around students’ screen time, in order to ensure that children aren’t spending too much time in front of them. Additionally, providing students with access to a balanced mix of activities, such as outdoor play, creative pursuits, and social interaction, can help mitigate the potentially negative effects of spending too much time in the virtual world. All of our schools offer students a range of extracurricular activities, from sports to the performing arts. We have a strong sporting tradition at our schools, and our students take part in sailing, golf, football, cricket, and more. When it comes to the performing arts, meanwhile, students can take to the stage or help out behind the scenes, and make use of a purpose-built theatre. All of these activities help students to get away from screens and work and play with others.
Too much of anything can be a bad thing. While there are benefits to students using screens, and they can be a valuable tool, it’s important to ensure screens are used in a responsible and productive way. At all of Aldenham Education Group’s schools, we work hard to find the right balance that benefits our pupils’ development – find out how we add value to our pupils’ education through our all-round education.
Schools have been transformed over the last few years, thanks to education trends such as the rise of online learning. Technology – and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – has had a huge impact on the education sector in recent years, and things don’t look to be slowing down in 2023, with new trends looking to make teaching more adaptable and accessible for both teachers and students.
One of the biggest education trends that you can expect to see more schools adopting over the next twelve months is nano learning. This teaching method is designed to make complex subjects more engaging and interesting for students, by breaking them up into lessons that are short, simple, and more ‘bite-size.’ The rise of Snapchat and TikTok has shown that people want information delivered to them clearly and concisely. Nano learning aims to do that in the classroom by using different types of media including videos, images, animations, and interactive games.
With nano learning, teachers can break up topics or themes into much more manageable modules, to prevent students’ minds from wandering. Research has shown that our working memory, where we process new information, is very limited, making it difficult for students to retain new information. Nano learning keeps attention levels high, increases retention of information, and improves productivity. The short and quick lessons involved in nano learning can last from around two to 10 minutes, and make it easier for teachers to work out which students may be struggling to grasp a particular topic. If they are, they can tackle the subject in a different lesson and tailor it more towards the students, perhaps using flash cards or a quiz.
AR and VR Technology
Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and it won’t be long before we see them used more often in schools. In fact, according to a report by Market Research Future, the AR and VR in education market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.2% between 2022 and 2027. Using VR, students could travel to different places – or even different times, like Ancient Egypt – without ever leaving the classroom, or even visit a virtual classroom without leaving home. The immersive nature of this technology means it can be integrated into every subject, and help students to focus more and understand subjects more easily.
Some EdTech companies have already turned to VR and AR tech, with headsets and AR overlays. According to a study by Lenovo, 54% of teachers and 41% of parents want an increased usage of virtual and augmented reality solutions in the classroom. Another study, by the National Training Laboratory, found that VR technology could help students retain information by 75%, compared to just 10% without the technology. At all of Aldenham Education Group’s schools, we embrace modern technology wherever we can. Our newest school in Saudi Arabia, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, is equipped with state-of-the-art features – not only do the classrooms feature interactive teaching walls, the learning resource centre houses a 3D printer, computers with video production software, and a high-tech VR system for students to unleash their creativity.
You can expect schools and teachers alike to start utilising learning analytics more. These can help education providers to get a better picture of how well their students are learning and progressing, making it easier for them to work out how to best tailor their strategies and learning plans. Many businesses and industries are benefiting from harnessing the power of big data, and the education sector is no exception.
With more learning software and online tools on offer, schools now have access to far more information on their students’ education than they once had. Just a few years ago, they would have had information on students’ progress from reports, assignments, and exams. Nowadays, however, schools can also get more real-time data on how students are learning, so teachers are able to adjust their lessons as the term progresses. If students use online tools such as quizzes and videos, teachers will be able to have access to information including how long the students used the tools, how many tasks they worked on, and whether they answered questions correctly or incorrectly. Teachers can then monitor students’ engagement and analyse their behaviour, and then use this data to tailor their lessons based on what they know works well.
Skills-based and Holistic Learning
It’s not all about technology, though – another of the biggest education trends to watch out for is schools placing more of an emphasis on skills-based and holistic learning. The focus of education has changed in recent years, and today’s schools aren’t looking to concentrate just on their students’ academic performance, but on equipping them with the skills to succeed in life and become well-rounded members of society. Skills-based learning is all about bridging the skills gap and teaching students to develop skills rather than just acquire knowledge. By engaging students more and teaching them to do things for themselves, teachers can encourage creativity and help them to think outside the box. At Aldenham’s schools, we want to prepare our students for their future careers, and offer a wide range of skills-based lessons including music and the performing arts. We also offer extracurricular activities, and Aldenham has a long sporting tradition – our students take part in football, hockey, cricket, sailing, and more, and often compete against other schools.
Holistic learning, meanwhile, emphasises a student’s overall wellbeing. While their intellectual learning is important, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing all play a vital role in children’s development – and by supporting their wellbeing, schools can help students grow up to be more motivated, more resilient, and more confident. While both of these strategies are considered a modern trend, Aldenham’s unique all-round approach to our curriculum is a combination of both, and something we’ve been doing for 425 years. We believe our students’ academic and pastoral needs are inseparable, and take care to support their mental health. We also provide the highest standards of education to nurture their talents, whatever they might be – academic, creative, or even sporting. At all of our schools, we encourage our students to flourish – they are at the heart of what we do. We believe one of the aims of any educational institution should be to prepare students for their future, and it’s what we strive to do at Aldenham.
These trends highlight how far education has come, and how much it can still change – some of them could transform the way that schools operate. At our Aldenham schools, even though we boast centuries of tradition and history, we’re still focused on the future. We’re always looking for new ways to best serve our students, whether that’s with cutting-edge technology and tools or the best strategies to equip children for life after Aldenham. Head to the Aldenham UK website to find out more about our forward-thinking ethos, and how we aim to add value to all of our students’ education.