Rahim Hirji works across edtech, education and emerging technology and is currently Executive Vice-President of Avallain a Switzerland-based learning platform and content tool provider, where he looks after the long-term strategic growth of the business. Avallain powers a number of leading global education providers in delivering learning solutions to millions of students around the world. Rahim is also the author of weekly technology missive Box of Amazing, which covers knowledge & society, AI & emerging technology and trends. He has spent 25 years across multiple areas of education and edtech. Prior to joining Avallain, Rahim set up the international team of edtech AI scale-up Quizlet in London to establish further growth outside of the US. He also founded EtonX, a blended learning platform teaching soft skills. This launched in China and later pivoted to a bespoke service for schools globally. Rahim was also CEO of Maths Doctor, one of the first online tutoring businesses for K12 students in the UK.
2024 is here, and we are just about recovering from the AI “glow up” that 2023 brought to education and edtech. For years, those in industry have talked about edtech being ripe for disruption but we have only seen small incremental changes happen over time. The pandemic changes the landscape for everyone – and reset the stopwatch. So when AI arrived to the masses, I was particularly excited. Even if the industry is globally disjointed by nature of money, curriculum, language, and a host of other things, the injection of an AI lens to the industry is finally changing the gears. This is happening because important larger technology companies, from Alphabet to OpenAI to Meta to Anthropic are investing in pushing real life use cases for generative AI. And education is firmly placed as a target industry where AI can do some magic. We are seeing education being transformed from the ground up.
As we acclimatise to this new year, the EdTech sector stands at the cusp of a revolutionary shift. Driven by rapid technological advancements and an ever-evolving educational landscape, this year is poised to witness significant transformations in how we learn and teach. Here are ten predictions that encapsulate the future trajectory of what to expect in EdTech.
1. Inclusive Education Takes Centre Stage
The EU Accessibility Act is applicable to numerous industries but will become a focus of all edtech companies who have users in the European Union. When wholescale legislation affects the EU, the world pulls its socks up – and we will see the change implemented globally from speech-to-text and personalised learning pathways. With 140M people in the EU with a registered disability, this will be a focus and an opportunity for edtech companies who haven’t pushed far enough over the years.
2. The Proliferation of Educational GPTs
With customised GPTs launching at the beginning of the year, expect a content explosion with multiple, customised GPTs being developed and repurposed for very bespoke pathways. Smaller LLMs will cater to all learners, no matter their environment, their level or their diversity. This will result in richer data in how to support student progress over the coming years.
3. The Rise of AI-Driven Personalised Learning
2024 will see AI take centre stage in customising education. Imagine a learning environment where AI algorithms not only identify a student’s weak areas but also recommend personalised resources and exercises. This AI-driven approach can democratise learning, making quality education accessible to the masses. This promise has come and gone many times before, but, this time, the platforms exist, the investors exist and there’s a maturity in the industry that will make this more likely than not. Every edtech business is announcing something based on AI, so I’m sure we are pushing the boundaries.
4. An Increased Emphasis on Soft Skills Training
I may be biassed, but ten years on from the launch of EtonX, I’m seeing more and more platforms focus on soft skills. Coursera and LinkedIn Learning are already incorporating courses on emotional intelligence, teamwork, and leadership. In 2024, these offerings will become more sophisticated, using interactive scenarios and real-time feedback to enhance learning outcomes. As the workplace evolves, these skills will be vital for career advancement and personal development, making this shift a strategic response to the demands of the modern job market.
5. Immersive Learning Takes Off
Apple Vision Pro might have set the world into imagination overdrive, but the discounted lower price of Meta Quest 2 can see some in power to start the plunge down immersive education. After many failed attempts, the immersive power of VR and AR could finally transform traditional learning environments, especially in STEM. Imagine biology students exploring the human body in 3D or history classes visiting ancient civilizations virtually. These immersive environments enhance learning experiences, making education more engaging and effective. Technologies like virtual laboratories and augmented reality help students grasp complex concepts. The impact might be especially strong outside of classrooms, with trade workers benefiting from enhanced training and healthcare workers using immersive solutions. While challenges exist, investor interest is high, making 2024 a transformative year for immersive learning. With technologies starting to become more accessible, I expect a government, school group to take the plunge to lead the way.
6. Expansion of Blockchain in Credentialing
Blockchain’s secure and decentralised nature makes it ideal for managing educational credentials. In 2024, expect to see universities and online course providers adopting blockchain to issue tamper-proof certificates. Not new within online courses, blockchain will streamline the verification process for employers, enhancing the credibility and value of online learning. Companies like Accredible are leading the space, but expect more to join as this are starts to take off further.
7. Growth of Micro-Credentials
Taking credentialing further, micro-credentials, or bite-sized qualifications, will gain more traction in 2024. These credentials, focusing on specific skills or competencies, cater to the growing need for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. As super-specific skills are being mapped to jobs, companies are already pioneering this trend, offering micro-credentials in areas like AI, data science, and digital marketing.
8. Bigger Tech Partnerships
We will see further entrenchment of “Big Tech” and “AI” in Edtech with partnerships between edtech companies and AI companies. Education has been the poster child of potential when it comes to AI’s reach and so there will be more experimentation, deeper ties – and potentially an acquisition or two of a traditional education business by an AI-first business. There’ll also be acquisitions and closures as firms are forced to prove scalability.
9. Enhanced Data Security and Privacy Measures
With the increasing use of digital learning tools, data security and privacy will become paramount in 2024. SOC 2 or ISO27001 compliance will become the norm as edtech companies will invest more in secure data storage and encryption technologies, ensuring that student data remains confidential and protected from cyber threats.
10. Collaborative Learning Platforms
The trend towards collaborative learning will continue to grow. Platforms that facilitate group projects, peer reviews, and interactive discussion forums will be in high demand. This approach not only enhances learning outcomes but also prepares students for the collaborative nature of the modern workplace.
In 2024, the landscape of education will be markedly different, driven by the innovations and advancements in EdTech. As educators, learners, and technology enthusiasts, embracing and adapting to these changes will be crucial. The potential of EdTech to transform education is immense, and 2024 will be a pivotal year in realising this potential, shaping the future of learning for the coming decades.