What do you think “EdTech” actually means?
Take a moment and reflect on this.
The most common response you will get is on the lines of “use of technology to impart knowledge“. Whilst it is not entirely wrong but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Technology is a powerful weapon and as educators/entrepreneurs it is our responsibility to ensure that we wield it to the advantage of the society. Children today live in a very different world than we did growing up. If we think about it, what exactly are we doing in classrooms, what is the objective of sending our young ones to an institution for knowledge?
Rote models of education are no more adequate and technology is not a replacement for the classroom entirely, but its value-add is access to quality learning. We are at the forefront of this rapidly changing landscape. Learning is an individualized process and throwing technology into the education landscape whilst many are doing it, is not the solution. World is made of change makers and technology has to play exactly that role in our education system. Entrepreneurs in the EdTech space have to ask themselves are they connected to the cause?
We must begin to think outside the classroom. Transforming a book into a digital one is not the game changer. Transforming a class into a video monologue is not the game changer. Process of deconstruction is critical rather than just consuming what is served else we have failed our children and all we have achieved is digitizing “glorifying” rote learning. Education reform has to be about innovation; innovation on how we use technology to enable our young with the 21st century skills; innovation on how technology as a tool enables them to think independently, analyse and take sound decisions.
Digitization enables flexibility and adaptability when there is clarity on its intended purpose, how to use it and strategically integrated with other tools. With personalization of learning for each individual student coming to the forefront, students are rapidly gravitating towards digital tools that the landscape is flooded with. With increased digitization and constant improvement of technology, an individual’s learning has moved mountains irrespective of where they are geographically, how they fit in the socio-economic stratosphere and what their learning pace is.
In my view, technology has just started to imprint education sector; whether it is as simple as internet access in the class, digital content being played over a projector, online classes and assessments or something more such as proliferation of data-driven instruction and intervention. Embracing technology to transform teaching and learning is not about the tech at all, but about the learner. The future is wide open and the emerging trends clearly visible are:
Learning Analytics: use of student data as a way of optimizing learning. Big Data is a crucial component in the journey of moving away from rote to analytical learning. Only when we collect and analyse student data can we get insights on what problems the student is facing, predict patterns and tracking it real-time will power effective decision-making.
Adaptive Learning: enables personalizing the learning process. Student-driven learning is no longer an idea rather its imperative for the 21st century child.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: whilst new in EdTech space, they are the most talked about and promising at that. The potential for simulating real-life scenarios to develop certain skills are limitless. Adding virtual objects to the real world is augmented reality and an immersive experience of seeing a digital environment is what virtual reality is all about. Use of augmented and virtual reality is growing at light speed and can already be seen making its impact in various fields of science.
Mobile Apps: gamification of content to connect with the individual is on the rise. Mobile apps are already changing the learning process; making digital content for learning readily available to the user in the comfort of their hands has helped move the needle by a mile against the battle with illiteracy.
Digital Content: oldest trend but still here to stay. Online courses is the classic flag bearer of this. The main premise here is that the learner and the teacher do not have to be in the same room. Knowledge can be shared anytime anywhere.
With all that is going on in the EdTech space, entrepreneurs must think beyond the classroom so that we do not replicate the “Idiot box” but rather prepare children to be bold, confident to tackle the “real-world” problems which is in stark contrast to what traditional classroom currently project. In changing the traditional architecture of education, EdTech has the power to create efficiencies, cut costs and enable new levels of standardization and democratized access.
The question is no longer if technology enhances learning, but rather how do we improve our use of technology to enhance learning?
*published CIO Review India magazine – November 2018