Last Updated: Monday, October 04, 2021

Emerging technologies, emerging practices in education

What is this?

This briefing defines the term ‘emerging technologies’, describes what these technologies are and links them to a range of ‘emerging practices’.

Who is this for?

Practitioners who want to consider how their classroom practice might be influenced by the use of emerging digital technologies.


‘When simply defined, particularly within the context of education, emerging technologies are those that have the potential to change the current state of affairs in education’.
Measuring the Impact of Emerging Technologies in Education (2018)

An emerging technology is one that is not in ‘common’ use currently in education, but which has the potential to be more widely adopted to support improvements in learning and teaching. Many of these technologies have been emerging for a number of years. Many continue to evolve at pace and will be in a state of continuous ‘emergence’.

Technologies are shaped by – and in turn shape – the context in which they are used. For this reason this briefing links both technologies and practices.

Emerging technologies and practices:

  • may not necessarily be ‘new’
  • may be in a constant state of flux until ‘a way of doing things’ emerges
  • may not yet be fully understood or researched
  • may not yet reveal their full potential

Veletsianos, G. Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications (2016)

Emerging Technologies

The following list of emerging technologies has been developed from desk based research, knowledge of current classroom use and discussions with practitioners.


Virtual Reality

A 3D computer-generated world which can be a highly imaginative or realistic simulation.


Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) overlays information and virtual objects on the real world environment.


Mobile learning

Learning via a mobile device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone


Artificial Intelligence

A machine or computer program that uses human like thinking to complete a task.


Adaptive Learning

An approach to delivering learning activities and resources paced or suited to the abilities or requirements of individual learners.


Learning Analytics

The application of analysis techniques to data gathered from learning and educational systems.


3D Printing

The manufacturing of a solid object by laying down different layers of materials (e.g. plastic).


Live Streaming

Online broadcasting of live audio/video.


Learning Games and Simulations

  • a game developed with an educational objective
  • the imitation of a real life scenario


Wearable Technologies

Smart electronic devices that are worn close to the skin.



Massive Online Open Courses.


Machine Learning

A branch of AI, it uses computer algorithms to design a personalised learning experience for individual learners.


Immersive Classrooms

A classroom that uses a range of technologies to bring a ‘real-world’ experience to learning.


5G and extended connectivity

The new generation of wireless technology, enabling faster connectivity, allowing many more devices to be connected at the same time, improving response times etc.



The use of machines to carry out tasks normally done by people.



An ‘unmanned aircraft’; ‘flying robot’.

AI and Emerging Technologies in Schools (2019)


Emerging practices

The shift to remote and online learning in 2020/21 has accelerated the development of a range of practices.

  • Streaming of live lessons
  • Accessing recorded lessons
  • Collaborative learning
  • Networked Professional Learning
  • Supporting learning through social media
  • Learning in immersive virtual environments
  • Hybrid Learning
  • Support to parents / parents in a learning support role
  • Asynchronous learning and teaching
  • Game based learning
  • Mobile learning
  • Open Education Resources

Improvement questions

  1. You might consider joining a Professional Learning Community and explore, discuss and share your understanding of emerging technologies
  2. How has the experience of school closures and remote learning changed your approach, or that of your colleagues, to the use of current or new technologies?
  3. What research exists around emerging technologies and how can you incorporate research findings into your classroom practice?