4 Education Trends Beyond AI

4 education trends beyond AI
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since ChatGPT debuted in late 2022, generative AI tools and the associated potential and drawbacks have sucked up a lot of the oxygen in education discussions. I’ve written extensively about ChatGPT and other similar tools for Tech & Learning, however, the rise of AI is far from the only important trend in the world of edtech over the past year, nor is it the only thing I've written about. 

Here are other trends and developments from the past year that have stood out and are likely to have an impact on education going forward.    

1. Metaverse and Virtual Reality Got A Taste of Reality 

After getting increased attention and funding in 2022, the metaverse came back to reality in 2023. AI stole the metaverse’s thunder, and funding was diverted from it to AI tech. In addition, Metaverse technology has still not caught up with its potential and there are serious roadblocks to overcome. 

For example, Jonathan Kelly, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, told me that his research shows that cybersickness, a type of VR-induced nausea akin to motion sickness, occurs in 2 out of 3 who use a headset for more than 20 minutes at a time. 

However, metaverse enthusiasts warn against counting out immersive technologies going forward, and while 2024 may not be the year it breaks out, they are confident it will eventually. 

3. The Decline of Teacher Twitter  

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful place called Twitter where teachers went to share ideas and connect with each other in a supportive and hostility-free environment . . . .

Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The platform formerly known as Twitter was always toxic and flawed, it just became more toxic and flawed after Elon Musk purchased the it in Fall 2022. Even before Musk had inexplicably changed the apps name to X, many educators had left the site in search of greener social media pastures. Some spent a few days on Threads when it was briefly the "It app" over the summer. Others found a new home on BlueSky or LinkedIn (you can follow Tech & Learning there!), however, a clear-cut substitute has not yet emerged. 

Maybe in 2024 a replacement will rise, or maybe the world will decide that we’re better off without Twitter or any alternative to it. 

3. Increasing Emphasis on CTE and Career Readiness Overall 

Sandi Castro, the Career and Technical Education Coordinator for Del Valle ISD in Texas, recently told me educators are more focused on career readiness than in the past. 

“I'm seeing a return to workforce development. Not everybody is going to go to college,” she says. “It's a really exciting time right now within career and technical education.” 

She's not alone in noticing this. A recent Gallup Poll found that only 36 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in higher ed. This is down from 48 percent of respondents in 2018. Undergraduate enrollment dropped 8 percent from 2019 to 2022. 

Consequently, educators need to continue to support students on career pathways that do not include college. 

4. Cyber Insecurity and Complexity  

In some ways, 2023 felt like the year of multifactor authentication. According to Security magazine, multifactor authentication has doubled since 2020. 

Why this is happening is not a mystery: As schools were forced online and remote learning was necessary during the pandemic, they became an increasingly appealing target to hackers. Cybersecurity was cited as the No. 1 concern by edtech leaders in CoSN’s 2023 survey. Edtech leaders I’ve spoken with often discuss how cybersecurity has become a bigger part of their job and adds to the complexity of their work. 

In the coming year, edtech leaders will need to stay vigilant and get support from classroom educators in efforts to secure school networks. Two-factor authentication is annoying, but as Joel Handler, Director of Technology for Hillsborough Township Public Schools, told me while recounting his school’s cyberattack nightmare, when your school network gets hacked, the disruptions that occur are far more inconvenient for everybody than two-factor sign-ins.  

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a Tech & Learning contributor. A journalist, author and educator, his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective.