Ten EdTech Tools for the 2020s

Educational experiences are becoming more diverse by the day. Mobile, wireless, smart, and social technologies allow for learning at any place and at any time. Along with a strong trendline favoring lifelong learning, more and more people seem to sense an education is never complete.

Now that on-demand, personalized learning is becoming more relevant, what innovative solutions could soon emerge to fill the needs of the education consumer? This article explores ten radical education technology tools that could exist in the next decade.

1. Neurotech

A technology called neurotech is ready to plug you in — literally. Neurotech is comprised of brain-computer interface (BCI) products designed to make your mind into the ultimate UX. Now that the FDA has approved the first therapeutic BCI product, there is a viable path forward for devices that use noninvasive wearables or, eventually, highly invasive implants to tap directly into the brain. BCI learning tools might involve downloading a new language into your memory or conducting a creative project, like story writing, with mind-reading software that feels telepathic.

2. Mind-altering Experiences

Big Pharma has come to respect the vastly untapped profits in hallucinogenic substances to cure and treat many of the major mental health problems plaguing society. Mushrooms, fungi, and other mind-altering plants are increasingly being investigated for their medicinal value. A number of studies point to the ability of substances like MDMA to impart valuable shifts in perception, such as in the case of the terminally ill using it to accept a bleak diagnosis. As a life experience that can shift one’s worldview, psychedelic trips could soon form the basis of informal learning valued by certain employers. Meanwhile, the microdosing trend could morph into a training tool for radical new jobs of the future where existential risk, mind-bending technologies, and climate crisis conditions are the norm.

3. Metaverse Avatars

The digital universe offers a new frontier of education and learning. Virtual schools in Roblox might someday compete with brick-and-mortar learning spaces. Given the gamification of many education technologies that already exist, it is possible students of all ages will soon spend time with an avatar tutor in a way that makes learning the basics inseparable from playing their favorite online games.

4. Personal Digital Twin

The digital twin concept rises to solve the productivity problem in business and commerce, but why not digitally clone yourself to efficiently respond to emails, meeting invitations, and other rote activities? You can even have a digital twin do your online shopping or book appointments. In the future, there could be an AI tool where a digital version of yourself acts strategically to advance your educational goals. Aside from serving as a personal assistant, a digital twin could upload assignments, scan for relevant research or reading material, remember due dates, and communicate with classmates or teachers. Automated digital twin EdTech could handle routine tasks, giving students more time for studies.

5. The Internet of Things (IoT)

If we are to achieve the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is possible inanimate objects could educate us on different issues or topics. Life would be similar to an interactive museum exhibit, where objects tell stories. Smart devices could communicate with the various living things in our community, creating learning opportunities at unexpected times and places. We could learn history, science, art, civics, and mathematics from connected devices that are always getting smarter, earning credits or badges for what we study.

6. Indigenous Wisdom

The workforce of the future will require individuals with a keen sense of the natural world and sensitivity to indigenous wisdom. Deep immersion in indigenous wisdom may offer some of the most essential knowledge for navigating technological progress, according to experts in indigenous futurism. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality might help tap into and archive the world’s indigenous wisdom.

7. Holograms and Digital Humans

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired many innovative ways of gathering without being in the physical proximity of others. While Zoom and other remote conferencing software stand out, holoportation has quietly evolved into a viable contender. Future students and teachers may take the form of a hologram to attend classes. A 3D hologram could counsel college applicants or tutor SAT prep courses sometime in the coming ten years. Meanwhile, your future teacher could be a digital human designed to help you learn at your own style and pace.

8. Reanimated Historical Figures

Deepfakes typically carry a negative connotation but imagine reanimated key historical figures as accurate and informative experiential teaching tools. If neural networks based on Plato or Florence Nightingale could become immersive educational experiences, lessons could feel much more engaging. Perhaps the best way to learn from the past is to interact with it.

9. Biohacking

Can we hack our brains or bodies to get smarter? The potential of genetic technology and synthetic biology colonizing EdTech realm over the coming decades would be a truly revolutionary breakthrough. This would involve the use of genetic techniques such as CRISPR, with real-time gene editing, to literally make yourself smarter. If we can hack or enhance our way into intelligence, would we still need to study at all? How would we prepare for a life or career if not through schooling? The ramifications on social and educational systems would be dramatic.

10. Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAO)

A Distributed Autonomous Organization, or DAO, could unleash the power of blockchains in the education experience. A DAO is an automated blockchain entity that produces profits for without the need for human intervention in its business processes. Could an education DAO produce benefits for students instead of investors? Perhaps a blockchain-based DAO could redeem relevant study or work experiences for continuing ed credits, mine cryptocurrency to pay tuition fees, create NFTs from schoolwork, or win cash with automated applications to scholarship prize competitions. In any case, an education DAO would be a tool to supplement or enhance financing an education, perhaps becoming an attractive response to the rising cost of higher education.

These ten EdTech tools of the future represent revolutionary steps forward where exponential technology serves student needs while supporting radical technological progress. Besides students, however, who stands to gain? EdTech is a billion-dollar industry.

Some of EdTech of the 2020s would provide an intellectual and experiential learning benefit, while others might save time and money for the student. What they all have in common is that they would enhance the learning experience in a new way, ideally one that leans in favor of the learner.

Image: Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

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Futurist. Foresight research, education, writing and consulting.

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Alexandra Whittington

Alexandra Whittington

Futurist. Foresight research, education, writing and consulting.

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