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The Future of EdTech UI: How Current Trends Shape EdTech Design

The tech news is already filled with the ongoing development of Meta's virtual universe or accessories to help you extend the reality you see. But how does all of that affect the EdTech user interfaces in particular?

November 30, 2021
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There's no doubt that EdTech has already come into everyone's everyday life.

Chances are, once you finish reading this post, you'll switch to learning another bit of a foreign language via Duolingo, an AI-based mobile app that tailors the training according to your progress and pace. In the meanwhile, your kid probably sits at home and listens to the teacher on Zoom who's explaining how to submit the next homework assignment through Google Classroom.

But what's going to happen next with the EdTech UI? What future trends will affect it? The EGO Creative Innovations web design and development agency has its own thoughts on it.

1. Extended Reality For More Immersive Learning

Extended reality covers all kinds of realities the new tech can bring: virtual, augmented, or mixed. They've been talked about for many years, but there were three major pitfalls not allowing the tech to go mainstream: lack of hardware power, too-limited Internet connection, and cost.

Today, you can get mobile VR glasses for a few dollars, and a decent standalone VR headset such as Oculus Quest 2 is available for as low as $299.


A virtual lab available in Labster. Source: Labster.com

Once this technology reaches classrooms, students will be able to get a three-dimensional understanding of such concepts as space, chemistry, medicine, or make virtual 3D tours to places like Ancient Egypt or Greece, or play simulators to master driving various vehicles.

In such a case, we'll be talking about a completely new kind of user interface involving spatial interactions and new input devices (like gloves or headsets with eye-tracking). Since such products will be experienced by many people for the first time in their lives, it'll be important for eLearning UX design teams to suggest an onboarding procedure that will reveal the emotions such a solution can bring.

The expected impact on the industry:

  1. Educational institutions will cut expenses on physical equipment
  2. Higher demand for interactive 3D interface patterns and solutions
  3. Course content will require major revamp to reach the highest effectiveness

Notable innovative businesses:

Labster, a virtual lab simulator developed by scientists.

Google Arts & Culture – offers VR tours to various places

VirtualSpeech – a startup helping to develop soft skills by simulating various professional situations.

2. Homeschooling and eLearning

Homeschooling had never been considered a worthy alternative to in-class activity due to the lack of socialization and prolonged periods of eye strain caused by electronic screens.

Still, a lot of children have no alternative to homeschooling for different reasons.  And then, the pandemic hit the world.

The homeschooling approach has multiple ways to be improved. Here are just a few problems the EdTech businesses can solve:

  1. How to help homeschoolers find each other and unite into virtual classrooms to go through the same courses
  2. How to find an online coach that will be able to provide integral support throughout the learning process
  3. How to help parents dive into homeschooling and practice best learning approaches with their kids
  4. How to sew online and offline education together
  5. How to stimulate homeschoolers to go outside, discover the world, and experiment with the environment

Some of these problems are relevant for grown-ups as well. Striving for constant self-development, we keep taking on new online courses and thus are forced to spend more time alone and in front of the screen than we would want to. And not only startups, but businesses caring for their employees might want to tackle these problems.

Thus, we're talking about sophisticated cross-platform solutions with adaptive UIs tailored for a few different roles simultaneously: kids/coaches/parents or employees/mediators/employers. This is where it is going to be critical to follow best UI/UX design practices to build elegant and intuitive experiences to outrun competitors and avoid user frustration.

The expected impact on the industry:

Notable innovative businesses:

3. AI-Based Personalization

Personalization is a concept present in many industries. For instance, in marketing, it's a technique allowing to present the most fitting suggestions for a user. In healthcare, we're talking about precision medicine, i.e. ways to select the treatment that will consider not only the current medical state of the patient, but also their genetics, lifestyle, and environment.

In education, personalization is more about learning that gets tailored to the capabilities of the student. The above-mentioned Duolingo is one example of that, and it utilizes AI extensively to offer the adaptive learning model.

Although there are already quite a few AI-enabled EdTech startups, the technology is still on the rise. In the future, we might expect it to have stats on how effective such personalization is, with further use of it in commercial and then public educational institutions.

Besides, artificial intelligence can be applied to personalizing and improving not only the learning process but the surrounding activities as well, like college admissions or financial aid.

In products with AI-based personalization, you'll first need to design the ways the AI insights will be brought to the audience. It might be a graph or a diagram inside an app, but it also can be a phone notification, a chatbot message, or an unnoticed change in the way the course material is presented. In any case, you'll want to highlight the fact that these suggestions are 'smart' and tailored to that specific user (as it might have a positive motivational effect). Most UI design service studios are able to  help with that.

The expected impact on the industry:

Notable innovative businesses:

devops ninja animation
devops ninja animation
devops ninja animation
devops ninja animation

4. More Extensive Big Data Utilization

Although we've been hearing about big data for some time now, it hasn't still shown its full potential in education. It can be used not only the measure the effectiveness of various aspects of the learning process, but also to provide insights to the students as well.

For instance, understanding your position in the rating of studying progress among other students is proven to motivate you to be at least in the middle or higher, based on your ambitions.

Collecting progress data helps teachers notice bottlenecks in the learning process. Source: ApexLearning

Big data is used in corporations to make better-informed decisions. In education, it might help students select the career path, and institutions might have an unprejudiced understanding of the effectiveness of their educators and curriculums and see what requires change.

Solutions taking advantage of big data rarely have specific challenges with user interface design. For an average design and development company, only the analytics solutions bring a problem of representing lots of useful data to their users in a readable and manageable manner. In most other cases big data is collected behind the scenes to help make better-informed decisions on, say, the course to learn next, or the method to learn the current subject. And representing such choices is a typical design task.

The expected impact on the industry:

Notable innovative businesses:

CareerChoice GPS helps students decide which career to start.

ApexLearning tracks students' progress to help educators adapt their curriculums to their needs.

5. Continued Gamification

This is another aspect of education that will further evolve over the next few years. Mainly through adding and improving the gamification features to other trends listed above. Just imagine gamified studying of 3D body structure in augmented reality or homeschool assignments in the form of a game. Adaptive learning almost always includes gamified features such as points and awards (check out our Zutobi case study, for instance).

And big data will show which techniques prove to be most effective over the course of time.

Gamification can also be used in the opposite direction. If the learning process can be gamified, why not adapt existing games for learning purposes? This is exactly what's happening with Minecraft and Roblox, for instance. Designers can learn a lot from them to gamify the next-gen education products.

Gamification in Duolingo. Source: Twitter

In the terms of UI, it'll be important to take advantage of emotional design to incentivize users to keep learning new stuff. 3D animations will play a huge role in increasing satisfaction once the progress is done. In other cases, game designers might be involved in user interface design to make apps more familiar for kids who have the gaming experience.

Coop Chess gameplay in It Takes Two. Source: Gamepur

Many modern top-tier games already have inbuilt mini-games: Gwynt in Witcher 3, Orlog in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, classic chess (and many others) in It Takes Two. Thus, we might expect to see learning experiences crafted as full-fledged RPG games requiring users to study new information and complete various assignments to advance in the core game.

The expected impact on the industry:

Notable innovative businesses:

Trinket offers gamified coding courses but allows completing them even on the phone

Brainscape adapts and gamifies the flashcard method for all kinds of entities

Roblox is a virtual universe allowing you to create your own games inside of it and invite others to play it

Bottom line

While EdTech is set to shape our future skillsets, the trends of this industry follow the technologies that become available due to the growth of available hardware performance.

Because of that, it's a bit easier to come up with new ideas on how to improve learning processes or address educators' and students' problems. But the execution of these ideas will demand knowledge and vigor. If you have an EdTech project you'd like to bring to reality, let's have a free consultation to see if our mobile/web design company can help. Alternatively, check out our plans to see how you can advance with your design idea in just a week or two.

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