Digital Transformation

Top 2020 Trends for Digital Transformation in Education

In 2020, digital transformation and technology trends in education included the adoption of several digital technologies.

Blog Post

7 minutes

Jul 09, 2020

Digital Transformation has been among the top technology trends in education for several years now, just as it has been across almost every industry.

Until recently, progress toward this kind of transformation has been slow in the education sector, with inconsistent practices, tight budgets, and lack of a unified plan among the most glaring reasons for the delay.

5 technology trends in education to watch for:

  1. Internet of Things (IoT)
  2. Augmented reality (AR)
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Personalized learning
  5. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data

Digital Transformation in Education Championed by U.S. Department of Education

Recently the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has taken measures to mitigate those hindering factors by creating a National Education Technology Plan. This comprehensive roadmap is designed to provide high-quality learning experiences to students across the country using technology.

The plan focuses on:

  • Teaching using technology
  • Learning through technology
  • Leadership to create a transformative culture
  • Assessment of transformative tools and processes
  • An infrastructure that enables access and use of technology

Adhering to and monitoring these factors will help educators and administrators tap into the potential for significant value offered by the kind of adaptive learning fostered by a technology-based approach to education.

With the DOE leading the way, trends in digital transformation in education for 2020 include a variety of tools and touchpoints, from mechanical and software technologies to the application of data for improved learning experiences.

1. The Internet of Things (IoT)

One impactful way technology trends in education are reformulating the way students learn is through adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Mobile technology, including smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices provide many benefits, including improving learning outcomes and increased campus safety.

Cloud-connected devices help professors tap into which students need more personal attention and make the teaching process more productive.

Connectivity allows students to make schedules and conduct research on-the-fly, which can improve task completion times as well as reduce the need for on-site equipment.

Textbooks in a digital format reduce cost, storage implications, and inconvenience associated with hard copies.

Finally, student safety is enhanced as campuses can broadcast important information instantly to students in the case of an emergency.

IoT in education in action

The EdTech business is as large as it is varied, so there are any number of new IoT technologies that are being used by institutions for educational purposes.

Let’s just use one simple example, Remind, a communication platform which can be used by educators to reach out to students and teachers in real-time.

This can be one-to-one or to an entire class, where teachers can use it to set deadline reminders for coursework and other class activity.

It’s easy to see why an app like this which utilizes the capabilities of IoT tech for communication with students can be an invaluable tool for schools.

With virtually every student at the undergraduate level having a smart device of some kind, it’s common sense for educators to put them to use.

95% of undergraduate students own a laptop or a smartphone and 30% own a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet.

2.  Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) is paramount in helping students process and recall complex subjects for a deep learning experience. Using AR, students can “dissect” a frog without the mess, sanitation concerns, or squeamishness.

Studies have shown that using AR in the classroom contributes to deeper content understanding, information retention, improved collaboration, and increased student motivation

When used for STEM subjects, AR not only provides an accessible, engaging learning experience, but it helps reduce the need for physical equipment and lab supplies, saving both students and educational organizations money.

Augmented reality in action

When we speak about providing a more engaging experience for students, teachers know only too well that motivation is a key aspect in the classroom.

Students must be motivated to succeed, and engaging them through technological means like AR can be the answer. Sure, it won’t be as good as the real thing in a biology class, but it’s an excellent substitute at little cost.

One of its best uses is actually in math, where AR can simulate and render objects that are abstract in concept.

Take the popular GeoGebra app, for example. As an interactive platform, students from elementary school to college can use it to learn about topics through visualization.

There have been some rather spectacular failures with introducing technology into the classroom; notably the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $1.3 billion attempt to rollout iPads.

The number of AR platforms available to teachers and students alike for educational purposes is increasing rapidly however, so the indications are that, while there will be bumps in the road, AR will be a familiar tool in years to come.

3. Cybersecurity

Among 17 industries studied, the education sector ranked as the least secure, with the highest vulnerabilities being present in application security, endpoint security, and keeping software up to date on a regular basis.

Cybersecurity in education is most likely the area of digital transformation where educators face the largest hurdles.

Not only do schools process and store sensitive private information that must be kept secure, they also struggle with educating users on security, determining access management strategies, securing multiple personal devices, and finding and training staff responsible for an overall security plan.

10 education cybersecurity stats to be aware of

  1. 700+ cybersecurity incidents since 2016
  2. 49 school districts hit by ransomware in 2020
  3. Schools are the no.2 target for ransomware attacks
  4. 42% of schools have students or staff that circumvent cybersecurity protections
  5. 41% of higher education cyber security incidents and breaches were caused by social engineering attacks.
  6. On average, 30% of users in the education industry have fallen for phishing emails.
  7. Educational records can fetch up to $265 on the black market.
  8. 87% of educational establishments have experienced at least one successful cyber attack.
  9. 85% of universities agree that more funding must be given to IT security to protect critical research IP.
  10. The education sector accounted for 13% of all data security breaches during the first half of 2017, resulting in the compromise of some 32 million personal records.

Sources: Purplesec, Absolute

4. Personalized Learning

Personalized or blended or adaptive learning lets students control elements of their learning experience for a richer—and more productive—education. Students can set the pace of their learning and control learning aesthetics, making this one of the more common technology trends in education.

With adaptive learning, students can choose to learn material in a way that is most effective for their learning style—flashcards, gamification, videos, adaptive spaced repetition, and more.

Schools have been more frequently adopting these methods for teaching, with 71% of educators viewing it with potential

What this means in effect is that students have more agency over how they learn, allowing themselves to work at their own pace; although it should be noted that is more referring to the setting of goals according to their competency, rather than total control over when they learn the curriculum.

Personalized learning is the No. 1 educational technology priority around the country, according to a survey by the Center for Digital Education

There are, however, hurdles that must be overcome before personalized learning becomes truly a part of everyday school life. There is pushback from some professionals, with concerns over the implementation of technology in teaching, and issues over whether it removes the collaborative aspect that has typically been so central in school classrooms.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data

Our final trend shows education organizations focusing closely on individual students through the collection of data and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to target at-risk students.

With the advent of voice-to-text recognition, machines can be used to tutor students to relieve the burden on teaching staff and provide the student assistance at their convenience.

Additionally, an AI grading program removes the possibility of partiality from performance assessments, and a combination of data and AI can successful match students with teachers that fit their learning styles.

Implementation of AI and use of big data, however, should be coupled with a strong ethical framework.


  • Until recently, progress toward digital transformation has been slow in the education sector
  • The new Department of Education plan will assist educational organizations in establishing a map for transformation.
  • The top education technology trends in 2020 include Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, augmented reality (AR), cybersecurity, personalized learning, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data

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