When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. With the rise of the pandemic era, there has been a surge of options in the edtech arena. A new wave of edtech companies is reinventing the experience of online education entirely. The Covid-19 crisis has acted as a catalyst in enhancing the teaching learning process and paving way for better educational experiences. From tablets to VR, anything seems possible now.
Educational technology in the post-Covid-19 era will differ from the past in keyways.
The old model of edtech focused on online curriculum which narrowly fixated on academic subject matter which was entirely instructor dependent using an easily replicable curriculum using the ‘1: many’ model of lectures. The new and evolved model on the other hand has an online curriculum which is based on analytics; is personalised and has a progress tracking system using AI based feedback. The curriculum is based on cultural collaborations, which amalgamate YouTube, social media and gaming models; thus focusing on continuous engagement.
A few decades ago, the biggest advances in educational technology were computers in the classroom. EdTech was largely concentrated on in-school content distribution with a focus on tools and resources for schools which were supplementary to teachers. The past was marked by pre-recorded content and static onscreen lectures whereas the future will be exceedingly interactive, engaging, driven by a global pool of teachers and peers.
Kids can now interact with teachers through choose-your-own-adventure-style lessons. This element of personal agency helps hold kids’ attention and makes them feel like they are part of the journey. In addition, live group educational experiences featuring cartoon characters and comic strip style graphic interactivity are on the rise.
At the outset, edtech was dominated by free online courses with lectures by educators from leading universities which anyone could enroll in and learn at their own pace. The new wave has brought in tools inspired from gaming and entertainment curating high quality live educational experiences. Working up from pre-recorded content and tools to various After-School and Homeschooling platforms, many parents are taking an increasingly pronounced role in the academic experience, and thus the popularity of platforms for supplemental education and homeschooling are ever on the rise.
The realisation and acceptance of Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences which accentuates that every student learns differently has led to EdTech companies moving towards blended learning thus offering a more personalised experience. With this the rise of APIs (Application Programming Interface) which are drastically influencing the way learning takes place. APIs are designed to bring necessary applications and programs together in a more streamlined way. Learning Management Systems (LMS) that have been widely adopted, allow students and teachers to access everything they need via cloud, without installing lots of extra software or logging on from a particular location. Better integration of APIs could allow students to pick and choose their own modules, learn the relevant material using standardised apps, and take tests composed of different elements that “snap together” to create truly customized degrees.
Increased connectivity is also set to have a profound effect on innovation in edtech. Internet of Things devices are seemingly taking over the world, so it should not be a surprise that they’re also changing the face of edtech.
In addition, edtech companies are also venturing into areas that have often been overlooked such as the arts, sports, study abroad opportunities, technology literacy, and vocational skills.
The important question however is whether teachers will merely be content providers, or if they’ll have a much larger role to play in the future of education. Undeniably, for innovation in edtech, the curation of content is incredibly important. Apparently, the teacher’s role will increasingly be to help students navigate the vast sea of open-source knowledge, ensuring it is both understandable and relevant thus creating an approach that puts this new world into context.
Edtech is definitely the key to unlocking wider prospects thus improving the economy, yet too little has been done so far. Entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers are starting to recognise this and will indeed lead to major improvements in remote learning very soon.
Views are personal. The author is founder, Birla Brainiacs.