The education sector is more optimistic about the impacts of technology than financial services, healthcare or the public sector.
According to research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit 90 per cent of education leaders, the highest of those surveyed, believe that technology has made them more imaginative and creative at work, with 80 per cent saying that it has also made them more productive.
The majority (71 per cent) of education leaders also say that technology has helped them to make good decisions and a further 72 per cent, again the highest of any other sector surveyed, said they believe that the interaction between professionals and technology will be hugely beneficial for the economy as a whole.
However when converting its optimism into results, the biggest challenge for education leaders is that technology is evolving more quickly than its processes or ways to use it – more than half (52 per cent) said this was the case.
And nearly 9 in 10 sector respondents (88%) agree that human-technology interaction will only add value if humans are more creative with the processes developed to connect the two.
“The positivity from global education leaders is uplifting, as the sector focuses on transforming for the future,” says Carsten Bruhn, executive vice president of Ricoh Europe, which sponsored the study.
“But the pace of change is fast, driven by technology and the students who are entering the education system. It is also driving the need for administration and learning environments to review and change the way they work.
“More efficient and innovative processes are required across a range of functions from attracting new students to enrolment and student services.”
The study, called Humans and Machines, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was designed to investigate the impacts of technology on human creativity and intuition across major industry sectors.
And as the popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) increases, bringing learning to millions of people who would never have the opportunity to attend university, the education sector needs to keep pace with technological developments.
Wim Westera, a Dutch physicist and educational technologist at the Open University of the Netherlands, is quoted in the report saying: “If higher education remains the way it is, with its 19th-century model of lectures, then within ten years we will have Google University and Walt Disney University taking it over.”
But survey respondents believe the interaction with a real human being will remain essential in education in the future and when asked where human intuition was most critical the most popular response was teaching itself, (34 per cent) closely followed by the development of new teaching materials (27 per cent).
It is most likely that technology-enabled learning will mean that the role of teachers and lecturers in the classroom will change rather than disappear.
Bruhn says, “The respondents of the survey are positively embracing the benefits technology can bring to the education system in the future. However accelerating the pace of change and transforming the traditional ways of working are essential if they are to continue to boost the knowledge economy and support the needs and demands of the next generation.”