Education and digital learning predictions for 2022 and beyond

Last year was yet another unsettled year for schools with the pandemic forcing many hours of homeschooling which brought about huge changes to the way pupils learn.  

Between the first and second lockdowns (March 2020 and January 2021) the number of teachers using online live lessons increased by 50%,* an indication of the rapid expansion of online learning. As 2022 gets underway, 10 experts who work in education or alongside pupils of exam age, have created a new report to discuss how technology can improve learning, in particular digital vs classroom in the UK. 

Also, below they share a series of predictions for both the education and digital learning sectors for the next 12 months, along with an analysis of 2021 and their biggest lessons learned from school. 

1. James Hamlin 

  • Occupation: CMO 
  • Company/Website: Tutorful  
  • Location: Sheffield  
  • About business: Online tutoring platform that has offered over 2 million lessons across its platform. 
  • About expert: James has been in the tech industry for over 20 years. 

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

Many schools were not adequately prepared for the pandemic and as a result, took a significant amount of time to get set up for online learning. We must learn from this and be better prepared for future pandemics.  

Home learning has opened many parents’ eyes to the failings of the current education system and shown them how children learn in different ways. Parents were able to spend additional time with their children, explaining difficult subjects and concentrating on learning in the way that works best for their child.  

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

During the pandemic, online lessons really took off, with parents across the country relying on tutors to fill the gaps in their children’s education. Many of these parents had never considered online learning before, but after the pandemic they realised just how effective it  can be. I hope that this trend continues and  more parents choose online lessons for their child which can be carried out from the comfort of their own home.  

I believe that over the next few years, more parents will turn to online tutoring as they see the effects of the loss of learning on their child’s future exam results. 

2. Dr Ems Lord 

  • Occupation: Director of NRICH, University of Cambridge 
  • Company/Website: NRICH 
  • Location: Cambridge 
  • About business: NRICH is an innovative collaboration between the Faculties of Mathematics and Education at the University of Cambridge. It provides free online mathematics resources for ages 3 to 18. 
  • About expert: Ems joined the team as Director in 2015. She is also a member of The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Teaching Profession, past President of the Mathematics Association, a member of the Joint Mathematical Council and a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teachers.  

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

Teachers are key workers, they need the help and support to do their jobs and they need their government to value their ongoing commitment to supporting our future generations by investing in their initial and ongoing training. 

Blended working and learning can be done, but we must not overlook the value of in-person teaching too. It helps to protect our children, instill the values we hold dear and develop a real community spirit to help overcome whatever happens next. 

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

In the short term, blended learning will become much more common. In the long term, advances made in medical imaging may enable schools to offer much more personalised digital support for their learners than is currently available. 

 3. Cheryl Smith 

  • Occupation: Headteacher 
  • Company/Website: St Andrew’s College, Independent school  – CAMHS 
  • Location: Northampton 
  • About business:  St Andrew’s is one of the largest mental health providers in the UK.  
  • About expert: Cheryl has more than 25 years of experience working in education, and has been headteacher at St Andrews for over 18 months. 

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

Teachers are adaptable and flexible and will always rise to meet expectations even in an ever-changing environment.  

Teachers can sometimes be taken for granted and expected to make significant changes and meet expectations head-on without questioning what it means for their wellbeing. Teachers have been on the front line and deserve full recognition and praise for their  efforts during the pandemic. 

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

I believe digital education will continue to increase as a result of the experiences we have had during the pandemic. Technology has advanced greatly and teachers and school leaders have identified ways in which it supports their pupils’ learning and progress. There is no doubt for me that for some pupils it could be the breakthrough that gets them engaged and feeling safe, but perhaps it needs to be balanced with the opportunity to be around a peer group to develop social responsibility and resilience skills.  

4. Sophie Simpson 

  • Occupation: Director of Operations 
  • Company/Website: Conscious Youth    
  • Location: West Yorkshire 
  • About business: Conscious Youth challenges inequalities by creating opportunities for young people to influence change and make a positive difference in their communities.  
  • About expert: Sophie is on an advisory board for digital inclusion for Kirklees Council which is focused on bringing everyone up to the same speed, from disadvantaged areas or people that struggle with IT.  

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

There was inadequate access to the technology and social infrastructure needed for virtual education.  The pandemic highlighted the need for an investment in our technology infrastructure and the support needed for all students to successfully learn with technology. Students without reliable, fast internet, suitable devices for schoolwork or people around them to help are disadvantaged in the shift to virtual education.  

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

I think remote learning will start to be the ‘norm’ so that students can use a virtual environment when they aren’t physically in school, but they will also have online learning in school environments so that they can have more access to different learning styles. Imagine an actual Spanish person logging in and teaching you. Gamification will be implemented as young people will engage more with this. 

5. Dr Amanda Gummer 

  • Occupation: Founder and CEO 
  • Company/Website: The Good Play Guide 
  • Location: Hitchin, Hertfordshire 
  • About business: The Good Play Guide was created to provide an independent, expert accreditation service for children’s products. The team’s mission is to help make the world a more playful place. 
  • About expert: Amanda has a PhD in Neuropsychology, the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and over 20 years’ experience working with children and families.  Having worked in children’s industries for many years, Amanda is now widely considered as the UK’s go-to expert on play, toys and children.  

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

Digital learning can be a really effective way of providing education to a larger number of children, but certain skills are difficult to teach through a screen and children need to be able to socialise to develop holistically. 

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

There will be a growing online educational resource bank that will democratise education, not only for children, but for adults who didn’t get the qualifications they wanted during their time at school and who can now access the learning they missed out on. The hybrid model that is already seemingly here to stay in universities will trickle down into schools and enable a different way of teaching that maximises the benefits of online learning while giving teachers more time to support students with individual learning. 

6. Dr Rachael Kent 

  • Occupation: Digital Health Consultant and Lecturer in Digital Economy & Society 
  • Company/Website: Dr. Digital Health 
  • Location: London 
  • About business: Dr. Digital Health advises both the public and private sectors with evidence-based research for individuals, employees and business strategy on the influences of technology on mental and physical health in everyday professional and personal life.  
  • About expert: Dr. Rachael Kent is a world-leading researcher, author, digital health consultant and Lecturer in Digital Economy and Society, in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London.  

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

How education and knowledge can be delivered using flexible pedagogy, and multimedia to engage audiences of all ages, abilities and learning styles. 

The digital screen is not a barrier to learning. It’s the opposite. Some students work better with the protective shield of mediation. Learning online takes adjustment for both students and teachers, but with the right infrastructure it can be incredibly rewarding for all. 

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

The pandemic has meant we have had to normalise adjusting teaching environments and cater to different learning and teaching styles. This flexibility in delivery should be taken forward in consideration for future provision of education. 

7. Clare Evans 

  • Occupation: Time Management and Productivity Coach 
  • Company/Website: Clare Evans  
  • Location Brighton, Sussex 
  • About business: Clare specialises in time management, productivity and leadership development. Applying both business and personal coaching techniques to support, challenge and motivate individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  
  • About expert: Clare has been running her own business for over 20 years. She’s a coach, speaker, writer and author of ‘Time Management for Dummies’ and ‘Time Management and Productivity for Students’.  

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

Not all students have access to the right equipment and environment to access digital learning. If one student is trying to access content on a mobile phone with poor connectivity in a multi-user household, they will have a very different experience from a student with a high spec computer/laptop and fast broadband. 

Also, education can be delivered remotely with good planning and the right technology and platform. However, the environment in which students are learning has an impact. If there are multiple students in one household or students don’t have the space to learn or are limited to the kitchen table, it is a very different learning experience from students who can study in their own room. 

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

A greater interest in accessing digital learning on a variety of topics and skills. Lower cost and easier access to resources you wouldn’t access in the face-to-face learning environment. 

Further opportunities for the expansion of online education and digital learning across multiple platforms. 

Rob Jennings 

  • Occupation: Co-Founder    
  • Company/Website: The Dyscalculia Network 
  • Location: London 
  • About business: The Dyscalculia Network helps parents, educators find support for those struggling with all aspects of Numeracy. The network was founded because there wasn’t the information and resources available online for those dealing with Dyscalculia or maths difficulties.  
  • About expert: Rob has been teaching for 10 years. He has a diploma in Special Educational Needs (OCR 5), Head of Maths at Emerson House learning centre and is an experienced Educational Assessor. 

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

The technology for online learning is really great. We also found that sending out concrete materials that allow the student to construct a relationship between numbers is effective and can be used well with lessons online. 

Never give up. Teaching is not an exact science. Pupils learn at different speeds and as a teacher you need to be incredibly patient. You must vary your teaching methods depending upon the learning style of your pupil.   

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

I think digital learning is here to stay. I feel what works best is a balance between online and face-to-face. 

9. Leon Hady 

  • Occupation: Founder  
  • Company/Website: Guide Plus  
  • About business:  Parents, community leaders and aspiring educators can access the world’s only video library of expertise designed specifically so those without formal training can learn how to become a better educator.  
  • Location: Raithby, Lincolnshire 
  • About expert:  Leon Hady is the founder of Guide Plus and former Headteacher who led his school to OFSTED ‘Outstanding’, the highest government rating.  

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

The effects of lost learning have left large gaps that must be addressed. Digital education offers a pathway to learners to have tailored catch-up support, allow them the time to revisit concepts, and access to innovative tools and learning platforms to support learning and understanding. 

Many parents, carers and community leaders became overnight educators and this was incredibly overwhelming, especially for those not working within the education sector. Importance has to be placed on developing their understanding of learning best practices. Digital education and access to high-quality support and expertise are more readily available online than ever before. They can equip every adult with the tools and the understanding they need to feel confident and support their children and learners. This will make a huge difference. 

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

I think we’re going to move into hybrid learning and more and more people will be delivering lessons besides teachers. 

10. Ray Sadoun 

  • Occupation: Mental health and addiction recovery specialist 
  • Location: London 
  • Company/Website: OK Rehab     
  • About business: OK Rehab is an addiction and mental health treatment provider with the mission to deliver truly inclusive Addiction Treatment. They believe everyone has the chance to turn their situation around, no matter how complicated their current situation may be.  
  • About expert: Ray has been in the industry for over 15 years 

2021’s biggest lessons about school and digital learning:  

We learned that it’s possible to change the way in which we teach children by modernising our methods. Most children are used to using technology to learn, and by making the most of digital tools we can take advantage of this. 

We also learned that we can support children over Zoom when we cannot do so in real life. For instance, teachers everywhere were supporting their students by arranging online classes on a daily basis, checking in on students through video calls, and making the most of Zoom features (e.g. screen sharing) to engage children in their lessons.  

Predictions for 2022 and beyond regarding the future of education and digital learning:  

I believe we will integrate the digital world into the education system more and more as we recognise its benefits. However, I also believe this will have a negative effect on the mental health of some students. In particular, students who struggle with motivation and those who have difficult family situations and tend to see school as a safe haven. 

*The Sutton Trust, January 2021 

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