From leaving time behind to measuring mastery, industry leader Jessica Lindl looks ahead to top education trends in 2019.  

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

As Global Head of Education at Unity Technologies, one of the world’s most widely used realtime 3D platforms, Jessica Lindl is no stranger to future edtech trends; she’s creating them. And with a long history of education industry leadership, she has a sharp sense of what’s been done, what’s happening now, and what’s soon to be.   

Jessica is also an advisory board member for GSV AcceleraTE, an early stage venture fund that partners with exceptional entrepreneurs and their companies in the $75 billion learning and talent technology sector. GSV AcceleraTE’s mission is to back innovative learning and talent technology entrepreneurs working to give all people access to the future.

Additionally, she’s an advisory board member for California State University Entertainment Alliance Advisory Council, where she helps guide efforts to develop mutually beneficial industry partnerships and relevant course and career development standards for students at the largest four-year public university system in the U.S. with nearly 500,000 students.

Jessica served as Chief Operating Officer at LRNG, where she helped create and deliver vision and strategy, and grew partnerships with corporate and public sector entities; LRNG recently merged with Southern New Hampshire University to deploy community-based education strategies across the nation.

Previously, Jessica was General Manager at nonprofit Common Sense Media, helping families make smart media choices in offering the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music.

She has further deep experience in the education industry, including time at Scientific Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and The Learning Company.

Asking Jessica what she sees as the biggest trends in education, technology, and the future of learning, we sat down for a brief chat yielding these intriguing responses. 

What do you think will be the biggest shift or trend in education for 2019?

Jessica: The biggest trend in education is that learning is no longer only happening in the traditional school setting or with just young students.

Continuous learning and rapid skill development are becoming requirements for all people of all ages, and learning is now measured based on effectiveness and efficiency, with “Return on Learning Investment” being the key metric.

As a result, personalized learning that can take place anytime, anywhere is becoming ubiquitous.

As such, the biggest shift in 2019 will be a movement from traditional schooling for only young people with ‘time’ as the measurement of competency to rapid skill development for everyone with ‘mastery’ as the measurement of competency.

What has been the biggest advancement in the field of education in the past year?

Jessica: Worldwide, the confluence of technological advances like artificial intelligence, AR/VR, high-speed mobile internet, and cloud technology have created a perfect storm of learning opportunities — and in 2018 we saw these begin to firmly take root.

Immersive, personalized learning experiences across all fields of study are now available to the entire world — and most are made with Unity.

Just look at the work that companies like Equal Reality are doing with diversity and inclusion training in VR, Veative’s VR solutions for the classroom, or Osso VR’s virtual surgery simulations for hands-on medical learning. Highly tailored, immersive educational experiences are everywhere.

Even Walmart is using this technology to customize training experiences for their employees, from learning new processes to Black Friday preparedness.

Do you feel that the educational system is adequately preparing children with the skills they’ll need for the jobs of tomorrow? What progress will we see to close the gap in 2019?

Jessica: Until now, the global education system has been set up to prepare young people to participate in society, not to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.

In order to prepare them to enter the workforce, we need to first understand that the teacher is no longer the traditional model of the “sage on the stage” at the head of the class.

Rather, the teachers of tomorrow are innovators that participate as coaches, guides, mentors, and fellow learners. And the future classroom is not a physical room or separate space, it is our lives. Learning is happening everywhere, all the time.

That being said, barriers do still exist for students to learn relevant technical skills—they aren’t being introduced young enough, and in many cases, not at all. This is due to a lack of adequate school system funding and investment in teacher preparedness to build technological fluency.

What skills are in demand that we’re not teaching yet? What skills do you think will become more in demand in the coming years?

Jessica: The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, has the potential to rapidly shift work performed by people to work performed by machines.

In this new world, both higher order and technical skills are required with a particular emphasis on continuous learning. It is essential our view of education shifts from a “stage in life” to lifelong learning and re-skilling for all people.

If managed wisely and ethically, this transformation could open up creative opportunities for people to change our world for the better, potentially creating a new quality of life standard for all.

Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com