3 AI Trends to Watch in K–12 Educational Technology for 2022

Natalie Gross | December 15, 2021

K–12 Educational Technology for 2022
There’s no question the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to everyday life. But it has also spurred rapid growth in technologies that aim to make everyday life simpler, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Many industries have been fueling this growth, automating processes through AI (the use of computers and machines to mimic human problem-solving and decision-making abilities).

K–12 education is no exception. As schools rushed to accommodate remote learning with little notice — and maintain a secure online network for students and staff — many incorporated elements of AI and ML. Between digital assistants, endpoint security, chatbots and more, AI is gaining a foothold in U.S. classrooms.

Here are three trends to look for in 2022:

AI in Digital Assistants Helps K–12 Teachers Manage Classrooms

“Alexa, read us a story.”

That’s one way teachers are using digital assistants, such as the popular Amazon Echo device — technology that many parents of home-bound students used last year to aid in their children’s educational routines — in the classroom.

One school district in California has integrated this technology even further with the Symphony Classroom device from Merlyn Mind, described as the world’s first digital assistant for education. The device is powered by Edge AI, combining artificial intelligence with edge computing technology.

It’s a way of getting technology to kids where they’re at and when they need it, says Brian Fish, an English teacher at Rancho Verde High School in California.

“Nothing can replace a teacher. However, technology can expand teaching,” Fish says.

Elsewhere in the Val Verde Unified School District, first grade teacher Jennifer Thornton says it comes in handy in her classroom because she’s never at her desk for very long. Through voice commands, Merlyn — the name given to the AI — can navigate tabs on Thornton’s computer and play or pause a YouTube video for a lesson, for example.

“It’s helped a lot with the classroom management,” she says.

Darren Crist, an elementary special education teacher in the district, also uses it for videos in his classroom. But Merlyn’s best feature, at least for Crist’s students, is its visual timer, which helps them with time management and more.

Crist also assigns students to be in charge of Merlyn as a classroom job, which helps them develop life skills.

“As a special ed teacher I’m focused a lot on, not just the normal standards of academics, but making sure that my kids are able to get some of that executive functioning they might be lacking,” he says.

"Nothing can replace a teacher. However, technology can expand teaching.”

- Brian Fish English teacher, Rancho Verde High School

Next-Generation Cybersecurity Solutions Integrate AI Technology

The use of AI and ML is also shaping cybersecurity and the IT industry. For example, these technologies “can offer IT security professionals a way to enforce good cybersecurity practices and shrink the attack surface instead of constantly chasing after malicious activity,” BizTech reports.

So, what does that mean for schools?

Between January and May 2020, as the pandemic took root, the use of remote management and collaboration apps increased by 87 percent and 141 percent, respectively, in K–12 schools, according to an Absolute Software survey of more than 10,000 school and district representatives.

Despite the rise in online applications for teaching and learning, “educational institutions are spending more on endpoint security yet gaining less visibility and control. Forty-one percent of schools say tracking devices is one of their most significant challenges,” Forbes reported.

That’s where technology such as next-generation endpoint security comes into play. “This advanced protection leverages artificial intelligence to recognize potentially dangerous threats — both known and unknown — in real time without the need for signatures, increasing speed-to-action via a proactive, streamlined security protocol,” according to a CDW•G white paper.

Cybersecurity solutions powered by AI and ML are becoming more popular in school districts because they give time back to small IT teams and allow them to scale security with the introduction of large device fleets.

Chatbots Rely on AI to Improve Communication and Tutoring

AI-powered chatbots have been shown to improve classroom efficiency and help teachers communicate with parents.

Since the onset of the pandemic, even more uses for chatbots have started to gain steam. With tutoring seen as a solution to helping students overcome the COVID-19 learning disruption, chatbots could help bridge the equity gap between students who can’t afford private, traditional tutors and those who can.

“To me, AI is just a set of simple tools that we can use, in this case, to figure out some problems that teachers and kids are persistently having,” researcher Neil Heffernan, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, says. “The real magic is giving human tutors and teachers a little bit of information on what’s going on so they can be more efficient.”

Google released a suite of programs for higher education that include virtual assistants and, as of November, an AI tutor. The applications in this software suite, called Student Success Services, can be customized for use in K–12 classrooms.


Education Week

Inspiring you through K-12 news, analysis, and opinion. Empowering you to make a difference in your community. Education Week was named #32 of the 2020 Best Nonprofits To Work For by The NonProfit Times.


3 Inclusive Classroom Strategies to Use for Higher Student Enrollment

Article | May 21, 2022

In 2021, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that student enrollments were at an all-time low. Community college enrollment dipped by 11% while post-secondary enrollment saw a dip of 4.2% year-on-year. The impact of the last two years’ events clearly demonstrates the strain faced by all levels of educational institutions. The shift to the virtual classroom setup also saw parents and students recognize the importance of teaching and learning online. The significance of a virtual classroom is emphasized more than ever. It has forced schools to improve their online teaching infrastructure so that they can keep growing. But this has also affected inclusivity. According to UNESCO, school closures during the pandemic affected 1.2 billion children in 186 countries. In this article, we discuss why virtual learning is in dire need of inclusivity and inclusive learning practices. Why Does Inclusive Learning Matter in the Era of Zoom Classes? Edtech is a booming industry. In 2019, edtech investments reached a whopping US $18 billion. Further, the online education market is estimated to cross the $350 billion mark by 2025. There is no doubt that learning institutions are investing heavily in online learning. But inclusivity is still lagging far behind. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that 25% of secondary school-aged students from underprivileged backgrounds lack a computer. The writing on the wall is clear. Virtual learning is bound to widen the divide, and its impact will be felt most by underprivileged students. For educational institutions, delivering a positively inclusive learning experience online is essential to attracting students who do have access to educational technology. “In the higher education space, most schools were, and still are, predominantly focused on that in-person campus visit to do all those same things, but it’s expensive and it means only students and parents who travel to campus can get that real-life feel and experience.” - Matthew Pellish, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at CampusReel Bringing Personalization to the Virtual Classroom Although virtual learning has stripped away the human touch that accompanies a classroom setting, there are ways to make it more engaging and meaningful. Engage students even before the class starts. This can be done by setting an agenda for the session beforehand and asking students to send in their queries and expectations from the session. Turning the greeting into a short discussion is a great way to engage everyone right off the bat. Tools like Zoom make it simpler to personalize every class with features like backgrounds and notes. Use the chat feature generously. Teaching and learning online has to be a one-sided flow of information for it to be effective. However, the chat feature empowers teachers to break the monotony. The best way to keep students attentive is through personalization. Attentiveness can be achieved by asking many questions, even if they are simply yes-or-no questions. It enables teachers to keep a check on engagement and pivot when needed. Simulating a Sense of Community A discussion on an inclusive learning environment is incomplete without mentioning student community building. Online teaching and learning is limited in its ability to provide a sense of community. Since students are physically separated from their peers, one-on-one connections are lacking. Despite the distance, there are a few solutions you can use to reduce the distance virtually. Identify the type of community you want to develop. Whether you’re offering synchronous or asynchronous courses, it is crucial to keep the student-peer-instructor link active. Create a loop of feedback between teachers and students to enable community building. Modern tools offer a number of ways to seek feedback that provides insight on teaching style and the general classroom environment. Create a classroom forum online. Forums offer the best of two-way interactions with a platform outside of the online class. This ensures constancy and inclusive learning even after the class is over. For those who weren’t able to attend due to technical difficulties or poor connectivity, they never lose track of what’s going on. Cultivating Two-Way Interaction Two-way interactions are an integral part of engaging learning experiences. Inclusive classroom activities online may not completely replace them, but much can be done to build a more involved form of communication. One way to design such activities is to use the Kanevsky and Keighly framework to engage students with the five Cs: choice, challenge, control, complexity, and care. Use screen sharing and remote access tools. Physical classrooms offer avenues for students to present to their peers. In a virtual classroom setting, this can be achieved with screen sharing. Empower students to retain better by making them present their perspective and understanding of different concepts. This gives other students the impetus to do the same. Initiate group discussions through your course management system. Inviting students to design the resources and collaborate on group projects will jumpstart in-depth discussions. Many course management systems allow students to share their notes with each other. This creates inclusive learning environment. Finally: Why Will the Online University Experience Will Attract More Students Although learning institutions are beginning to open up for the in-person learning experience, the effectiveness of a virtual classroom is undeniable. Like remote working, remote learning is gaining ground, and inclusive online teaching is inevitably important. A Cengage survey revealed that 68% of students prefer hybrid learning: a combination of online and offline course delivery. In addition, the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) found that the number of students who enrolled in online-only programs rose from 3.5 million during the fall to 5.8 million. Fostering meaningful, hands-on learning similar to that in a classroom is difficult. Even though student enrollment in online courses is rising, learning institutions are facing the challenge of delivering a highly engaging learning experience. But with an understanding of the learning outcome and the right tools, institutions can develop robust, inclusive classroom activities that every student will want to benefit from. Frequently Asked Questions Do students and teachers prefer online teaching and learning? According to a recent survey by Cengage, about 73% of students prefer some courses to be delivered fully online. In addition, 57% of teachers said they prefer teaching hybrid courses over online-only courses. Is online teaching and learning a growing trend? Yes. Online learning platform Coursera experienced a huge spike in enrollments. In 2021, enrollment increased by 32% and peaked at 189 million. What are the principles of inclusive education? The principles of inclusive education are: Togetherness Participation Acceptance Equality

Read More

Remote Working is Shaping the Future of Schooling

Article | May 11, 2022

For so long, we have deeply embedded technology in our everyday lives. Working and learning from home complement each other, creating an ecosystem of solutions. Even as organizations continue to lean towards remote offices and hybrid working, the same may not be possible with learning. Businesses worldwide have blazed the trail for remote working. The past two years have seen both, formal education, and work taking a big virtual leap. While virtual learning has been around for some time, we have thrust it into the mainstream only because of the events following the pandemic. Remote work is no longer a trend or the domain of freelancers and tech workers. While organizations learned to maintain their productivity even as their workforce was scattered, schools and learning centers weren’t far behind. Schools could shift learning online using the principles and technology businesses were using to stay productive. Working and Learning from Home, Together Zoom classrooms are no match for the physical learning environment provided by a school.Although online education existed as a part-time alternative, traditional schooling has always been a holistic, on-premise experience. Virtual schooling cannot be dismissed, as proven by the last two years. It is especially significant in today’s remote work era and as a precursor to it. While there were mixed feelings about accepting the new normal, families enjoyed several benefits including lowered education costs, zero travel time, children’s safety, and a newfound work-life balance. Virtual schooling has become the norm. It worked only because parents could also stay back and help create a learning environment at home while they worked. They have now become integral to their kids’ learning and growth. “In the higher education space, most schools were, and still are, predominantly focused on that in-person campus visit to do all those same things, but it’s expensive and it means only students and parents who travel to campus can get that real-life feel and experience.” - Matthew Pellish, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at CampusReel Cultivating the Workforce of the Future Virtual learning will provide children with the bandwidth they need to become competent in a world where remote working is the standard. They will have already conquered the learning curve. Remote learning will equip learners with the technical understanding, attitude, and collaborative spirit needed to excel in a technology-driven world. In addition, it will prepare them not just for hybrid workplaces but for a hybrid life that promotes work-life balance. Just as remote work enables easy access to talent worldwide, remote learning will help students access elusive academic programs and high-quality education in a flexible setting. Final Word The future has been transformed forever, and virtual schooling is gaining traction. It also looks set to follow the footsteps of remote working, a concept that is now solidifying in the form of hybrid workplace policies. Higher education institutes are realizing the advantages of virtual learning. They are incorporating a remote angle into their course delivery to make it faster, efficient, and more accessible. Will hybrid learning be the future of schooling? Looking at the course that online learning is set upon, it will.

Read More

How to use an LMS to simulate the publishing process with undergrads

Article | February 11, 2020

As a quick side note, the saying should be “publish in English or perish”, but we will tackle multilingualism in the academic world on a different occasion. While in some contexts the constant pressure to publish may have its disadvantages – the first that comes to mind being that it favors quantity over quality – it is not hard to understand why publishing is so important in the academic world. Publishing your results is essential for the advancement of science. As a researcher, you read what others have done in your field and then you try to identify how you might contribute with a novel approach, a clever solution, or a different idea.

Read More

10 European EdTech startups changing the face of education in 2020

Article | February 10, 2020

Edtech has changed the face of learning and the whole concept what a school is. A decade ago, a university was an old building in the city where you went to get an education – nowadays there are MOOCs available online, with enrollment numbers skyrocketing. Coding used to be reserved for talented IT professionals – now kids learn to code before they even know the alphabet. Virtual reality was a Star Trek-like feature that we only saw in the movies – today it’s a highly efficient classroom tool.

Read More


Education Week

Inspiring you through K-12 news, analysis, and opinion. Empowering you to make a difference in your community. Education Week was named #32 of the 2020 Best Nonprofits To Work For by The NonProfit Times.