‘Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.’ - UNICEF
January 25, 2021 marks the International Day of Education under the theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’. It is important now more than ever before to power education by stepping up international cooperation and solidarity to place education and lifeline learning at the center of recovery.
In the last decade we have witnessed an explosion of new educational technologies (EdTech), with companies and educational institutions touting amazing learning potential for the new generation of students.
The EdTech sector is constantly marketing these new innovations in which technology in education, or teaching and learning technology (TLT), has the ability to teach both traditional content (science, math, history), as well as intra- and interpersonal competencies, such as teamwork and leadership skills.
One of the most heavily marketed, exciting and even controversial applications of EdTech involves what is typically characterized as ‘personalized learning’ - a varied educational program where different students are exposed based on how big data applications have evaluated their likely learning profiles.
How has technology impacted education??
The fusion of technology and education (techeducation) is paving the way for a better and more inclusive future. As such, education technology makes learning easier, much more streamlined, and even fun.
The rise of new technological developments within the learning industry has gained the interest from those not just within the educational sector, but from investors and business leaders alike.
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According to EdSurge, there was $1.7 billion invested by venture capital funds into the EdTech market in 2019 across 105 deals in the United States alone and most of these investments were dominated by large Series C investments.
When looking at publicly traded education companies, as of January of 2019, there are 29 companies that total $71.0 billion in market capitalization in the United States.
From a global perspective, HolonIQ reported that there was a $7.0 billion global education venture capital funding in 2019. If we look further and include learning technology suppliers, Metaari reports there was $18.7 billion of global private investment in 2019.
What is Edtech and its impact on learning and costs?
So, how important is technology in education? Well, EdTech is becoming an increasingly discussed topic among educators, parents and scholars around the world. The learning environment has broadly remained the same for hundreds of years but new technology and societal pressures are changing that.
The term ‘EdTech’ refers to educational technology that is being used to help educators and schools facilitate and aid in their teaching to students in new and fascinating ways. In other words, EdTech is the use of any form of technological process to improve education.
It is important to note that EdTech is not simply implementing technological devices in the classroom and handing out laptops to students. Rather, you should think of EdTech as using digital technology as a medium to facilitate and deliver a new form of learning architecture.
In other words, a new learning architecture has the ability for educators to deliver personalized learning and training to their students based on the individual’s learning needs. And now more than ever, new technologies are now utilizing the potential of big data analysis to understand the most effective ways for students to progress.
In an age of increasing accountability and diminishing budgets, school districts and educators are constantly trying to balance and demonstrate efficient use of finite resources to deliver the best possible education to their students.
According to True Education Partnerships, the combined education and training industries account for more than $4 trillion. With the increase in the costs of providing education and concerns about financial responsibility, there has been a recent shift towards focusing more on promises offered by online software and educational technology well before the pandemic hit.
It is no surprise that EdTech is seizing valuable opportunities where costs associated with teaching resources, teaching staff, physical hardware and maintenance can be dramatically reduced. In addition, with the advent of reliable cloud computing services and faster and more reliable broadband services, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in schools will become the new norm.
online learning in the time of covid-19 crisis
With the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and the World Health Organization declaring it as a pandemic shook the entire world. This situation challenged the education system across the world and forced institutions and educators to completely change how to teach.
For those academic institutions that were initially reluctant to adopt online teaching methods and kept their traditional pedagogical approach has no option but to shift completely to online learning-teaching.
To find new solutions for our problems, we must be more open to embracing some much-needed innovations and change. If there’s one thing the crisis has shown us is that we have no other alternative left other than adapting to the dynamic situation and accepting the change. For one, it will be beneficial for the education sector to see firsthand the types of surprising innovations coming out of the EdTech industry.
How does Edtech help students and teachers?
There are thousands of EdTech tools that enhances both the student and teacher experience. Advantages of technology in education are becoming more known. For example, EdTech tools can consist of using virtual technology (VR) devices that help students visualize a concept or an idea while also providing an immersive experience. On the other hand, EdTech tools can consist of data science-based platforms that utilize big data and analytics to help teachers identify learning habits so that they can subsequently create personalized lesson plans for each student.
Edtech helps both students and teachers in many distinct ways. Built In summarizes how EdTech is directly impacting the way students learn and how teachers teach and how technology has changed education positively. For students, new technologies are introducing new avenues of learning:
Cloud-based technology and tools are fostering collaboration in the classroom. Tablets and laptops are now making it easier for students to engage with learning games and online lessons while working together. Cloud technology also allows students to easily upload their assignments digitally which makes it easier for both the student and teacher to converse about homework or any help they may need.
24/7 Access to Learning
IoT devices are making it easier for students to access information anytime, anywhere. By having full access to the classroom in a digital environment using Wi-Fi and cloud access, allows students to work on their assignments and study at their own pace. It is no longer necessary to be physically present in a classroom to have access to all the information students need to move forward.
“Flipping” the Classroom
Traditional classroom teaching would usually involve students listening to lectures and then working on assignments at home. With the advent of video lectures and learning applications, students can now watch lessons anywhere outside the classroom. EdTech is completely shifting the way traditional classroom experiences are towards one that is focused on cross collaboration between students and teachers. This type of learning style helps foster self-learning and greater creativity.
Personalized Educational Experiences
EdTech opens up new opportunities for educators and teachers to create personalized learning plans for their students. This allows for a catered learning environment that is customized based on a specific student’s strengths, skills and interests.
From a student perspective, digital learning content helps students learn at their own pace where they have the flexibility to pause and rewind lectures in order to fully grasp each lesson. With analytic tools, educators can see which students are struggling within certain areas and can later offer support on the subjects they are having difficulty with.
Proponents within the EdTech industry strongly argue that technology is such a vital tool to capture a student’s attention. Additionally, scholars are also finding that students and teachers have positive attitudes towards technology integration and feel that it has positive impacts on learning satisfaction, promotes engagement and facilitates academic success.
For teachers, EdTech is allowing them to develop efficient teaching strategies and practices in an effort to save time in the classroom. Here are four ways assistive technology in education is helping teachers:
New technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making it easier and easier to grade assignments. Especially for objective assignments like multiple-choice or true/false, frees up a huge chunk of time that teachers would usually spend grading assignments. It would be no surprise to think that in the near future, technology could allow the grader to cross-reference answers online that are written in short answer or even essay format. As such, the potential for auto grading technologies are becoming more and more apparent. Estelle Liotard, an academic writing expert and education advisor at TutorMe site, says, “Such technology will help make the grading process more objective, precise, and free of human errors and inaccuracies.”
Classroom Management Tools
The EdTech industry is also involved in creating applications that help educators, students and parents all involved in the learning process. For parents, it could be useful to be sent reminders and notifications regarding their kids’ homework and assignments. For students themselves, it could be useful for them to have access to certain learning tools that can optimize their learning environment, such as monitoring classroom noise levels. These are just two examples of many tools that can be used to create a less-chaotic and more collaborative learning environment.
There is no longer a need for spending countless hours at the copy machine printing hundreds if not thousands of sheets of paper to be distributed to each student in the classroom. The weight of having to carry boxes filled with assignments and tests is no longer burdened on teachers thanks to EdTech while promoting overall greener policies in the classroom.
Teachers and educators are always assessing how to improve the skills of their students which can sometimes take countless hours. EdTech now has the ability to harness the tools and data platforms to constantly assess individual students’ learning style and needs that can be relayed to the teacher. This can be important to identify a student’s strengths, weaknesses and even learning disabilities from an early stage so teachers can put forth a proactive learning plan as early as possible
THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY AND BUILDING THE INNOVATION ECONOMY
Educational institutions (schools, colleges, universities) have long been following traditional methods of learning, that is, having face-to-face lectures in a classroom. In recent years, ‘eLearning’, or learning through computer or digital interfaces, has been implemented along with classroom lectures with what is known as Blended Learning.
Blended learning has been used as a form of strategy within the learning process which utilizes existing resources (educators, curriculum) while creating new learning experiences for students. Among educators however, this new shift in using technology is not yet fully embraced by educators though this sentiment may soon change. Pilot studies are showing that through personalized blended learning, that students show better outcomes.
EdTech has the potential to create efficiencies across the curriculum - it can take off some of the workload off educators; cutting costs, increasing student engagement, and improving digital skills and literacy such as coding in which they will need for 21st-Century careers. Most importantly, the notion of online learning and EdTech’s role has allowed students to still be engaged in the learning process amidst the COVID-19 crisis while protecting students, educators and parents.
In the end, the amount of knowledge and skills we dedicate and invest towards the next generation of students, whether it be through the school system, technology in higher education, and other learning resources, is ultimately going to benefit the world economically.
Failing to invest in new technologies and innovation that can better improve student learning will we lose our ability to develop skilled workers, imaginative thinking and creativity that will hinder our ability to grow and innovate across various sectors and industries.
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Therefore, in order to develop the innovation economy requires investment towards new skills, teaching, resources and innovation within the educational sector in an effort to improve our learning systems that will allow students to unleash their ‘creative destruction’, of which new opportunities of the future arise. And EdTech is one of the main drivers towards this new type of economic thinking.
In our next month's article, we will delve deeper into how EdTech is applied beyond the educational sector, highlighting current and future trends, and examples of the some of the major EdTech companies that are making a name for themselves.
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