For the past 4 years, we have collected our thoughts on future trends and emerging technology for the coming year.
It’s a useful record for schools to look at what to focus on for the year, and what to start thinking about.
Time to dust off our crystal ball, reflect on 2017, and look to the future.
Here we go...
Still going to grow from 2017
2017 saw an emergence of chatbots (AI that conducts conversation). You may not even realise you’re speaking to a chatbot - but these services have been implemented across multiple businesses and industries to help with a variety of means.
We expect chatbots to continue to grow, particularly in the ‘support’ field, where most questions are regular queries that a chatbot can easily answer.
Facebook Messenger is an example platform to build a chatbot. Parents can use it as a ‘help guide’, particularly for usual support queries about using the ‘Parent Portal’, or accessing the school calendar.
Alternatively, you can install one onto your website to help with simple queries and instructions.
For example, a chatbot could be installed on your website to help with admissions enquiries. If a person goes on to the ‘Admissions Process’ page, the service could pop up, introduce itself, and offer guidance and tips for your school’s admissions process - and answer any queries the person has.
Voice will continue its upward trajectory - as user adoption accelerates. We expect more companies (and schools) to invest in developing voice interfaces.
This will most likely be on the Alexa platform first, as Amazon controls around 70% of the smart speaker market (eMarketer).
Yet, Apple are coming into the mix in 2018 with their HomePod - and you can never underestimate Apple.
It is sure to be an exciting one to watch.
 New video formats
2017 saw a variety of new video formats - from ‘square video with captions’ to ‘circular videos on Snapchat’.
Video will continue to grow, and the formats will keep evolving to grab attention and drive engagement.
We expect to see more schools using fully immersive 360 video - and to develop their VR content.
New predictions for 2018
 Exponential growth in AR
AR has been a fun trend to watch over the years, but it’s about to get real. We have an convergence of powerful tech, improving platforms, and mass adoption.
People are using AR every day - but probably do not realise the technology behind it. For example, Snapchat filters are augmented reality - and so is Snapchat's 'Dancing Hotdog'.
Apple introduced ARKit in iOS11 last year, which gives developers like us new ways of building AR experiences for iPhones.
We expect to see new and exciting developments for schools with regards to teaching / learning, and the promotion / marketing of schools.
 Internet of Things
As the Internet of Things (IoT) movement continues to grow, we expect to see even more devices entering the market - as well as more integration with schools.
From fun uses such as:
- Playing a sound in the science department every time the International Space Station flies overhead
- Flashing your home lights green every time you child’s team scores a goal/point, and flashing red every time they concede.
To more useful implementations:
- Aggregating data from security cameras or wearable devices to track student traffic patterns in order to better plan timetables and hallway designs
- Monitoring and adjusting the temperature in classrooms based on data for optimal student performance
 More voice integrated tech, less typing
Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana guide us through this AI revolution. Smart speakers, powered by their smart assistants, will increasingly populate our homes. They will be improving significantly over time and serve up more personalisation, useful content and… of course… ads).
With 1 in 4 searches on a mobile being through voice, people are already interacting with their devices beyond typing already.
Toyota and Lexus have committed to adding Alexa into their cars by the end of 2018. And hotel chains, such as Marriott, are already testing Alexa in their hotel rooms.
Picture a parent driving to work after a fabulous night of music at the school…
‘Alexa, ask [Your School] to replay the concert from last night’
In 2018, Alexa will be everywhere…
 More automation in School Marketing
The biggest challenge we hear from schools we speak to is often TIME. We all want more time, and we can actually reclaim time through simple adjustments.
When we go into schools and audit their systems and processes, we always find inefficiencies. Lots of duplication of data/content, and lots of repetitive tasks.
Automation can save you time. For example, how long does your weekly newsletter take to put together? Ours takes just five minutes to put together and send to parents. Yes, really.
That’s just one product we’ve built to not only save our schools time/money, but to increase engagement too.
 #SchoolStories Adoption
2018 will be another year focussed on sharing your amazing #SchoolStories. It's what makes every school unique - and every day schools are capturing moments for parents to engage with.
The challenge for most schools is:
a) finding out what’s going on / collecting the stories from teachers
b) aggregating and sharing stories into the channels parents spend time in (email newsletters, website, parent portal etc.)
We continue to develop more seamless integrations with 3rd party providers to allow schools to easily collect and share their stories.
Interactive Schools also continue to support our clients with first-class staff training, strategic vision, and consultancy.
 Amazon as a marketing platform
Amazon is continuing it journey of basically eating up every vertical possible - and will continue this in 2018, and beyond. As it evolves from Amazon Prime, Amazon Video, Amazon Now, Amazon Grocery, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Echo, into newer products, it will build even more customer loyalty.
With more Amazon touch-points, there becomes newer ways to advertise on their platforms - and to get in-front of their customers.
We expect Amazon to develop their advertising services further, and for schools to start thinking beyond just Facebook and Google as their core online ad providers.
 Wider integration of marketing team across the school
An aim for us, in 2017, was to spend more time with schools to understand their unique challenges. We looked at the wider view beyond just marketing, and gained some fascinating insights, and problems to help solve.
Schools are looking for more than just a specific problem to solve - such as ‘we need a new website!’ - to engaging in more in a partner-focussed relationship with agencies to help ensure their digital specialism can drive valuable business results.
- Teachers (blogs, Twitter, YouTube)
- Recruitment (school website, Facebook ads)
- Parent Engagement (newsletters, parent portal)
- Alumnae / Development (newsletters, social media)
We expect to see more integration between marketing and other departments in 2018.
 More focus on the end-user
People react more to personalised user experience. That’s why we use Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook - because they know us better than we know ourselves!!
Understanding people – what they want and how they interact with your different touch-points at every stage of their journey, is essential.
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to deliver a personal experience to each user (prospective families, prospective teachers, current families etc.) is a reality, and can be delivered TODAY by using the right technology.
 Messaging vs Social Media
There’s been a trend over the past few years towards more sharing through private messaging apps, than through traditional social media channels.
People are setting up private networks (WhatsApp Groups, FB Messenger, Slack etc.) to connect with friends and colleagues.
We expect this trend to continue, and for schools to start adopting a ‘Messaging Strategy’ as another way to communicate and share with parents in the channels they spend time in.
 Smart glasses might FINALLY make a breakthrough
From Google Glass to Snapchat Spectacles, the tech world keep pushing smart glasses - but the market keeps declining.
There are a number of reasons why we have yet to adopt smart glasses on a mass scale. Yet, the tech wold continues to develop and create new products.
Could this year be the year a startup (or existing company) finally make a breakthrough?
 Blockchain applications for education
You’ve probably heard a lot recently around cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. There’s a lot of hype and speculation - but one thing is for sure. Blockchain technology has the capability to change the world.
We would urge you to spend some time reading up about the capabilities and potential impact that blockchains can have.
Over the next few years, we will see more companies and products emerging into the blockchain field - and education will likely be one of those.
Blockchain has the potential to help improve a number of areas in education, including databases, CPD, assessments, certification.
In December 2017, Sony patented an application for managing data within education.
 Schools to accept Bitcoin for school fees… 😉
Yeah… maybe that’s one for our 2020 predictions.
What do you think? Are you seeing these trends? What do you think schools should be aware of in 2018?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Oh yes, and don't forget to subscribe to #SchoolBytes for more weekly school marketing articles!