What is edtech?
EdTech is the combination of hardware, such as interactive projection screens, and software, e.g., classroom management systems, aimed to improve both teaching and learning processes, and educational outcomes, respectfully. Although educational technology is relatively new - it originated in the early 40-ies and was represented by first flight simulators, it has already demonstrated excellent results and looks extremely promising both to end-users and investors. Many educational solutions are cloud-based and exploit various research data to create algorithms for enhancing learners’ results by making the process of acquiring knowledge more interactive, providing personalized content for people with different types of sensory perception, and learning pace, improving assessment methods, etc.
Technology-driven education also creates huge value for educational institutions by helping them to be more cost-efficient, organize, and handle student data on a new level. For instance, face recognition systems help monitor attendance.
Apparently, the labor market of the future will be different from what it is now - more competitive, dynamic, requiring a new set of skills - and edtech will shape the new generation of workforce. In this article, we overview the main trends in the industry.
Trends in educational technology
1. Distance learning
Distance learning is not a new trend, but due to the Coronavirus epidemic the number of learners has skyrocketed. It has many advantages, such as greater flexibility, easy access and, in many cases, affordability. Education is not a luxury anymore - it is a basic need. It is not for young people only, either. The huge popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs) Skillshare, Udacity, MasterClass, Udemy, Futurelearn, Edx, Coursera, etc., highlight the need for life-long learning. You don't have to get a loan to enter a university - just enroll for the course of your interest for a fraction of the cost. Here are some recent statistics on MOOCs according to Classcentral:
Top MOOCs providers
There are different formats of distance learning, and, respectively, tools and apps to support them.
- 1) videoconferencing - one-on-one or group
- 2) fixed-time online events with a defined virtual location, e.g. webinars
- 3) computer-based fixed-time lessons
- 1) when students process the learning materials on their own and get tasks with deadlines;
- 2) open-schedule with no deadlines - perfect for learners who have unpredictable workload
Hybrid - combining the elements of the two above mentioned formats
2. Immersive education
Both augmented and virtual reality tools are becoming affordable enough and tailored for educational purposes. VR headsets are used in the classroom by teachers to explain complex notions or make content more engaging and fun. For instance, going to a conventional museum might be boring, but complemented with augmented reality, it is way more entertaining for children of all ages. BBC AR application The Civilization provides learners with the ability to view various historical artifacts, e.g., one can look inside an Egyptian mummy.
The technology is also widely used for adult learners across industries - retail, air force, customer service, etc., and has many valuable benefits, such as the using the acquired knowledge in practice immediately:
- Preparation for real-life scenarios. A vivid example is the virtual reality simulation program for paramedics
- Improved engagement, e.g. NASA’s simulated space environments for astronauts
- Training of skills application, like Walmart's employees
- VR on Oculus for Business takes professional training to a new level leveraging spatial memory and contextual experiences.
3. Big data and AI
AI-based apps can be students' best friend and teachers' personal assistant, and provide answers to any curriculum-related questions 24/7, as well as awarding grades, etc. Artificial intelligence systems are also used to analyze data from learners on multiple devices on how information is consumed, whether educational tools are effective or not, explore learning habits and create deeply personalized content. On an organization level, data-driven approach helps detect bottlenecks and design training programs for employees to avoid them in the future.
4. Education accessibility through digitalization and mobile tech
Access to education is critical for emerging economies. A mobile phone may be the only possibility for disadvantaged children to get knowledge necessary to stand a chance for a better life - anytime, anywhere, even in the most remote areas of the world.
Digitalization of learning materials is another step towards a much wider accessibility. Digital textbooks are cheap, much easier to modify and update. Besides, with collaborative efforts, they can be very quickly translated in any language.
Accessibility issues are also related to people with physical or learning disabilities, and this a large target group for tech solutions that can make a huge difference and bring hope.
In the developed countries, many top universities and other educational institutions tap into the mobile app potential. For instance, in 2016, the University of Salford (Manchester, UK) created a very successful and award-winning Tinder-like application ‘Match Made in Salford ‘to help potential students choose the best matching course. 5G internet connection will make mobile tech even more powerful, and Blockchain is what will guarantee high security of students' personal data.
Everybody is different with their own talents and abilities. With deeper personalization, educational institutions will not impose the same content on all learners. Most people get frustrated if they are offered materials irrelevant to their interests. As we have already mentioned, big data technologies will help achieve a high level of customization - create an individual learning journey for maximum satisfaction and thus efficiency. There are already several platforms that provide content personalization opportunities for educators, such as Seesaw, WeVideo, and Code, but, without a doubt, there will be many more in the future.
Games are a very natural and fun way to learn something new with a high level of engagement. Boredom is a real motivation killer and the reason why many students hate school and demonstrate low performance. Competition and rewards are another factor that makes game-based learning attractive. It's common knowledge that gaming is addictive, and triggers the release of the hormone dopamine into blood, so why not develop an addiction to learning? Team games help practice collaboration skills and build strategies.
Leif Sorensen, the CEO and Founder of Relation Technologies , a company that designs educational games for organizational development, believes that 70% of all knowledge is acquired through practicing, and the gamification tools are the best way to provide employee training.
Make a breakthrough in edtech with Blackthorn Vision
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, said Nelson Mandela. Over a decade, we have been designing web and mobile solutions for many industries, for different purposes, but education technology is the area that is rewarding not only on a business but on a human level, it is a future investment with many returns. Do you have an idea that will revolutionize teaching or learning? We will gladly become your reliable software development partner. Let's get in touch!