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Education institutions in Southeast Asia have had to pivot to virtual classroom settings and leverage remote learning tools to accommodate learners and ensure that education is delivered everywhere, despite the health crisis. They have used technology to navigate the abrupt changes and implemented strategies to minimise learning loss amid unprecedented school shutdowns. 

With governments rolling out recovery plans and ramping up the vaccination pace, economies across the globe are beginning to reopen. However, education systems in the region will approach face-to-face learning more cautiously as new COVID variants are discovered. Thus, institutions will continue to explore online learning models and incorporate new technologies to assist educators and learners in maintaining continuity and building capacity, to help them thrive in an ever-changing environment.

As learning institutions respond to the evolving needs of both students and educators while navigating the uncertainties posed by the health crisis, here are the top trends that will shape the region's education systems in 2022:

Pivot to hybrid learning

As businesses implement remote working arrangements, academic institutions will leverage the concept and embrace the remote learning setting. The pandemic has transformed the education system and taught institutions to be more flexible by considering various teaching models, provided the learning objectives are still met. In 2022, education institutions will be offering options to students to be on-campus or choose some level of hybrid learning. Moreover, this pivot to hybrid strategy will not only attract and retain students but also pave the way for the rise of micro-credential courses, which will encourage workers to pursue reskilling and upskilling.

Reliance on technology in line with the adoption of hybrid learning

Throughout the pandemic, technology has served as an enabler and played a crucial role in student engagement and learning efficiency. To increase capacity and address the challenges of hybrid learning, it is crucial for education institutions to invest in technology. Accessibility of resources will be a key focus and schools will utilise new tools to enhance communication and collaboration. This will trigger initiatives to improve IT infrastructure in the areas of learning management systems (LMS), internet connectivity, and learning resources. Additionally, schools will look to revitalise their learning design strategy to ensure that their online courses and digital pedagogies are fit for purpose.

Increased attention on equitable access to resources and technology to empower students

Lessons and assessments originally designed for in-person classes were modified in haste to fit remote learning settings. Moreover, in less developed parts of the region, unreliable IT infrastructure and inequitable access to technology have hampered the implementation of remote learning during the pandemic. Faced with limited resources and increased pressure to meet learning objectives, it has led some students to feel overwhelmed and even resort to academic misconduct such as plagiarism or contract cheating. Moving forward, learning institutions and governments in the region will introduce changes to education systems to improve equal access to technology and resources, to ensure that no student is left behind.

Personalisation of education for improved learner experience

With the use of educational technology supporting the switch to hybrid learning, there is an opportunity to personalise and create a learner-focused experience. In order to achieve this, schools and universities must harness software learning analytics to identify patterns of student performance. Real-time data tracking of knowledge mastery or gaps during both high and low-stakes online assessment allows for timely, meaningful feedback and helps guide instruction methods. Equipped with such up-to-date insights, educators can reduce the risk of students falling behind. Indeed, extracting the value of this data is key to building more personalised learning plans in Southeast Asia that better meet the needs of individual learners.

Assessments will evolve to support the changing landscape

Assessments have not changed significantly for years, however, the pandemic has forced learning institutions to rethink their approach.  On the agenda is the design of more authentic, robust assessments and learning activities that can fully engage students in both the online space and hybrid modes. As assessments move away from merely assigning grades, design and interpretation of assessments will also integrate methods to identify how and when learning occurs, to assist educators in providing effective feedback to students and improve lesson designs, instructional approaches, and curriculum.

The profound changes due to the pandemic have triggered a rethinking of the traditional methodologies employed to educate students within the system. With increased focus on enhancing the learner experience and the advent of digital technologies to improve learning modalities, we will see more opportunities to innovate, enabling education systems to respond to the needs of the modern world.