Trends in Educational Technology in 2021

Igor Skakovskyi posted on Aug 03, 2021, edited on Mar 07, 2023
Trends in Educational Technology in 2021

Technology’s influence on education keeps growing. Forced transition to digital learning brought the educators’ attention to student engagement and performance issues.

While redefining learning approaches, many educators concluded that technology is the way to modernize the educational system. Here’s what the statistics say:

The influence of technology on education

The demand for EdTech solutions is increasing, and the industry is flourishing. EdTech startups attract investors. In 2020, U.S. EdTech startups raised over $2.2 billion in venture and private equity capital. If you plan to launch your EdTech startup or improve an existing one, we recommend keeping abreast of trends in educational technology.

EdTech trends for 2021

Technology has always been used in education, from the first multimedia materials as learning content to computer-based and connected learning over the Internet. MOOCs, LMSs, and IoT have become powerful tools for education development.

Technology makes it possible to provide personalized learning and develop students’ creativity, problem-solving abilities, and other valuable skills. Technology continues to evolve and arouse interest among education leaders, especially during the active introduction of distance learning.

Let’s look at the list of EdTech trends in 2021:

2021 EdTech trends

Now we’ll discuss how each EdTech trend influences the industry and see some examples of how they are already used.


E-learning popularity is growing like never before. The US e-learning market is set to grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024. 

E-learning implies delivering an educational experience electronically. Usually, the term refers to online learning, which provides structured digital learning content via the Internet. E-learning is broader than the term distance learning, as it allows using digital tools both in-class and remotely. Distance learning is a part of e-learning.

E-learning brings the education system significant benefits. It helps to renovate learning approaches because of its: 

  • Scalability. E-learning is highly scalable and adaptive. Teachers get the power to manage student groups depending on their performance, learning pace, special needs, etc. E-learning enables personalized learning, where students are free to choose the type of educational content. It also boosts students’ collaboration.
  • Affordability. E-learning helps educational institutions to save money on facility maintenance, as students don’t have to attend each school lesson but take the classes online.  
  • Accessibility. Studying anytime and anywhere is a massive benefit of e-learning. Due to the growing popularity of personal mobile devices, students can access learning materials whenever they want. 

E-learning progressed through history from slightly providing students with learning materials and full accessibility via the Internet. And now e-learning types and areas of influence are expanding. These are e-learning technologies that will be popular in 2021.

E-learning trends for 2021  
The trend What it brings for education Examples 
E-learning 2.0 E-learning 2.0 is related to the Web 2.0 technology, allowing users to share any content via the Internet. In the education industry, people can contribute learning materials, share opinions, and collaborate online for learning purposes.   Blogs, YouTube, podcasts, etc. became a means of knowledge nowadays. 
Video conferencing Personal interaction in the learning process is required to provide psychological comfort for students. Video calls help students stay in touch with educators and their peers, highly demanded during lockdowns.  During the Covid-19 pandemic such tools as Zoom and Google Classroom became popular in the education industry. 
Simulation-based education Online simulators provide students with close to real-life experience without risks to damage expensive equipment or hurt someone.   Such tools as BranchTrack help educators to create digital sims and develop real-life scenarios for their students. 
Online courses Online courses provide education with accessibility and flexibility as students can learn from anywhere, anytime, and at any pace. Synchronous, asynchronous and hybrid courses are gaining popularity in higher education.  A lot of universities offer online degrees nowadays. Online courses get more different formats combining video lectures, text and audio content, simulations, etc. 
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MOOCs and LMSs

As e-learning has boomed, the demand for the tools to provide digital learning has also risen. By 2027, the MOOC market size is projected to reach over $67 billion, and the LMS market size – over $38 billion

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were a key topic for discussion twice in the last decade. The first time was in 2012, when MOOC platforms and Coursera or EdX got unexpectedly high enrollment rates. And the second time was in 2020, when the wave of interest in online courses resumed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

MOOCs are so popular because they are free, allow for a large number of enrollees, and are easy to access. Besides, with MOOCs, learners can pick up courses of their interest, get personalized education, and discuss learning topics with their fellow students. 

What development paths do MOOCs have in 2021? MOOC providers are developing partnerships with universities. Coursera, the most prominent MOOC provider, has already partnered up with over 80 universities. MOOCs provide access to online education for people worldwide, and educational institutions are interested in acquiring more learners.

The other perspective for MOOC providers is to contribute to a life-long learning trend. They could attract content creators for specific courses like arts, handicrafts, gardening, etc., for people who seek new skills and knowledge, like Kadenze does. This MOOC platform offers art, music, and creative technology courses falling behind the trending fields.

Kadenze MOOC

Learning management systems (LMS) have also been trending significantly since last year. The LMS market size has risen from $8.76 billion in 2019 to $13.4 billion in 2020 and continues to increase. Few trends in educational technology will influence LMS’s development.

Content delivery features are still in high demand, and users will expect to get augmented and virtual reality tools to be engaged in the learning process. Big Data and analytics will require new solutions as the amount of data collected continues to grow. 82% of L&D specialists consider reporting and analytics features essential in an LMS platform. Modern LMSs are already implementing reporting tools that allow educators to make data-driven decisions and improve the learning process.

Personalization and accessibility

Traditional learning paradigm ‘one size fits all’ goes into oblivion. Learners seek personal approaches for education, as do educators. Learning personalization gives better learning outcomes as learners consume relevant information, stay focused on their learning plans and develop practical skill sets for their careers.

Technology helps design personal learning paths and deliver personalized experiences, so students enjoy the learning process. There are few EdTech trends used for learning personalization.

  • Big data combined with artificial intelligence algorithms help track learners’ performance and suggest their learning paths.
  • Management platforms for educators enable them to curate a learning process rather than conduct lectures.
  • Learning platforms are compatible with many file types, making digital content libraries variable and address learners’ personal needs. In 2021, adaptive learning goes hand in hand with personalization, meaning-making education more accessible for people with special needs.
  • Some schools have already started implementing the Internet of Things into the classroom to provide accommodation for students with disabilities.

Mobile learning

Mobile learning is gaining popularity because it provides education accessibility. The idea of taking classes from anywhere seems attractive to many people. The education apps market is growing and is expected to accelerate at a CAGR of about 26% during 2020-2024.  

Mobile learning (or m-learning) brings proper outcomes for education. It improves productivity, promotes memorization and knowledge retention, keeps learners engaged, and speeds up course completion time. 

In 2021, mobile learning is improving significantly. Gamification and augmented reality are making their way in education. These technologies boost student engagement by providing interactive content and promoting healthy competition.

Take Quiver for an example. The app lets students interact with three-dimensional figures after they finish the task. Duolingo uses gamification elements like badges and leaderboards to increase learners’ engagement and boost their productivity.

Gamification features in Duolingo

Besides AR and gamification, m-learning actively embraces microlearning. Duolingo again provides educational content as small pieces of information to help learners combat anxiety and finish topics faster.

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As we’ve seen earlier, gamification can influence learners’ performance, raise engagement and provide brand new learning environments. The Intuition report shows that 67% of learners consider gamified learning more engaging and motivating than traditional. Gamification makes the learning process clear with leveling, motivates learners with rewards, and brings new learning experiences with gamified learning paths. 

The next development stage for educational gamification combines game-based learning with social learning, microlearning, and personalized learning to get learners the best learning experience. Gamified portals such as Absorb Infuse use gamification components to reward learners and let them assess courses, share their accomplishments and communicate virtually. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning 

There’s probably no industry where artificial intelligence and machine learning aren’t trending. The AI market is expected to grow at a 33.2% CAGR between 2020 and 2027, and that’s because artificial intelligence has a lot of potentials.

In education, AI solves a huge number of tasks, for example: 

  • provides real-time feedback with interactive interfaces,
  • creates personalized learning paths, 
  • enables smart assessment tools and automation,
  • provides interactive content with voice assistants and chatbots,
  • makes it easier to conduct online exams by detecting cheating.

AI uses big data to suggest solutions; its algorithms can predict learners’ performance and free educators from routine tasks. Soon, we’ll see how AI-powered personal assistants will guide learners on their career paths, suggesting skills and knowledge that suit their personalities.

Educators will get an AI-based helper to correct textbooks and assess tasks automatically. AI will bring together students worldwide by providing connected classrooms, so they can share different views and opinions. 

An excellent example for AI in education is Jill Watson, the virtual assistant developed at Georgia Institute of Technology. Jill Watson is a bot that helps students with their concerns about learning programs, introductory courses, and any predictable queries. The tool first was managed by a human, but has grown to an automated response algorithm, which helps students process a variety of difficulties and prevents them from dropping out. 

XR for immersive learning

Immersive learning is a process enhanced by extended reality. It provides learners with an interactive learning environment to engage them in a learning process. An interactive environment should be performed physically and virtually.

Extended reality (XR) is a term that includes all technologies which provide human-machine interactions, for example, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR). These technologies help educators add real-life scenarios to learning programs to get valuable skills without risks and stress.

In 2021, several tendencies predominate in immersive learning: 

  • Immersive experience during classes. Virtual reality can make learning content exciting and appealing. For example, VR helps recreate historical events by combining archive files and computer simulations to immerse students in the past. 
  • Virtual field trips. With AR technology, field trips become more accessible. Learners can visit any place on Earth, discover other planets, dive to the bottom of the ocean, see the human body from the inside during the class. Take Google Cardboard as an example. The app offers lots of trips that can be adjusted to the learning process.

Hands-on learning goes virtual. Virtual reality can substitute hands-on lessons. There’s no need anymore to harm living creatures for educational purposes. XR technologies offer virtual dissection solutions for students to learn animal structure.

Big Data and advanced analytics

Big Data contributes to education significantly. Due to prescriptive, predictive, and descriptive analytics, the education industry can improve the learning process. When interacting with educational software, learners leave a trail of their actions, decisions, preferences, etc. When analyzed, this information helps educators to develop adaptive education for each student, deal with common issues, improve learning content, tests and assessments, and much more.

We’ll see how Big Data changes learning approaches to make them more effective in the near future. Let’s look at what else education can get from advanced analytics:

  • Advanced personalization. Besides tracking students’ preferences, Big Data can save information about the time students spend on a particular task. Based on that information, computer algorithms can highlight the perception peculiarities of each student and make suggestions on suitable types of content, etc.   
  • Enhanced student performance. Tracking students’ intermediate test results allow educators to adjust the curriculum in time to finish courses successfully. 
  • Improved grading system. Tracking students’ behavior during tests and exams helps define weak and ineffective approaches in task creation and assessment. 
  • Lowered dropout rates. Predictive analytics can reveal potential risks of students failing on exams according to their previous performance. The educators can use this information to offer counseling in time and lower dropout rates.

Here’s a story about Georgia State University. The university has been examining data from over 140 thousand students to define the factors of students dropping out. They’ve found out that over 800 factors influence student performance and managed to lower dropout rates by 32% by providing counseling.

Data security

As e-learning and distance education lead to more data leveraging, the risks to have the data corrupted are also rising. Malware, hacker attacks, ransomware threaten the educational industry like never before. That’s why new approaches to cybersecurity solutions are in high demand.

Trending technologies to provide data safety and security in 2021 are: 

  • Improved multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is considered as one of the reliable ways to authenticate users, but cybercriminals are always finding ways to bypass protection. Microsoft suggests stopping using SMS and phone calls verification and enables application-based MFA such as Authy to protect sensitive data.  
  • Artificial intelligence for security. AI-driven security tools can create automated security systems, automatically detect threats, analyze risk data faster, and more. 
  • Mobile cybersecurity. As remote learning became our reality, learners actively use mobile devices to access learning content from their homes. It raises the issue of mobile cybersecurity for the educational industry. Developers use several layers of security to protect users’ data. Hardware security solutions combined with mobile security software are a way to eliminate risks of data corruption.  

Wrapping up 

We use electronic devices and software to make our lives more effective and easy in fields like marketing, medicine, industrial purposes, etc. The educational industry also needs technology solutions to shift to the new learning paradigm. Now we’re at the point of rapid technology adoption for education purposes, as schools and universities embrace distance learning, IoT devices enter the educational world, and Big Data is growing. 

If you’re planning to enter the market with an EdTech startup, it’s probably the best time to do it now. Riseapps developed several successful EdTech solutions from scratch, so if you want to get reliable learning software, we’re at your service. 

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What are the latest trends in educational technology?

Technology continues to evolve and arouse interest among education leaders, especially during the active introduction of distance learning. Here is a list of technologies that are trending in 2021:

  • E-learning
  • Massive Open Online Courses
  • Learning Management Systems
  • Learning personalization and accessibility
  • Mobile learning
  • Gamification
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Immersive learning
  • Big Data and advanced analytics
  • Data security

Why is the EdTech industry growing?

The demand for EdTech solutions is increasing. EdTech startups attract investors. In 2020, U.S. EdTech startups raised over $2.2 billion in venture and private equity capital. The industry is flourishing. If you’re planning to launch your EdTech solution or improve an existing one, now is a good time to do it.

What is the future of EdTech?

In the foreseeable future, the EdTech trends will continue to develop as schools, universities, and companies seek affordable and practical solutions to provide an advanced learning experience. Schools and universities embrace distance learning, IoT devices enter the educational world, and Big Data is growing.

If you want to create an EdTech startup or improve an existing one, contact Riseapps, and we’ll address your concerns about the development process.