Edtech is a relatively new term, but technology within education has been ever-present, albeit, a very different experience depending on which decade you grew up in.
For me, edtech would have been the beige and blocky BBC Micro computer (and there was absolutely nothing ‘micro’ about it). For students today, edtech couldn’t be more different; powerful mobile technology, cloud computing, cross-campus networking, and so much more.
Your school’s IT prowess would have varied wildly depending on your age and perhaps even the kind of school you went to, but the fundamental aim was very much the same – engaging students with the kind of technologies they would expect to use as they get older. But I certainly couldn’t have predicted that just a few years after leaving my school, that I would have relatively usable mobile internet on a flip phone in my pocket.
Because of this rapid acceleration, I don’t think I can confidently say that the technology that my school prepared me for a career in tech or even gave me an understanding of what’s possible with technology. So are modern day classrooms better equipped? Does classroom technology today better reflect what is out there in the real world? I think ‘yes’, and ‘yes’.
92% of teachers believe that tech is going to have a major impact on the way they educate their pupils in the near future.
Here are some of the benefits of a curriculum strong in technology:
- Collaboration. Aided not only by cloud connectivity but also mobile computing, students are no longer bound to individual workstations – projects can be shared and worked on by dozens at a time.
- Regular access to materials. Students can take a more flexible approach to studying because the materials and resources such as lectures or learning apps can be accessed at any time and from anywhere.
- Encouraging creativity. The traditional classroom (for me at least) was to ‘sit down and listen’. Edtech tools rethink this method and allow groups and individuals to become self-learners and self-starters.
- Personalised learning. Not everyone learns in the same way. Not everyone is gifted with the same abilities. Edtech not only means that educators can offer more personalised learning for students, but it becomes far easier for them to re-sit a lecture, or refactor a piece of work that they’re struggling with.
- Tools for teachers. They get to have some fun too. It’s now easier than ever to create content-rich teaching plans, materials and lectures. In a generation of shorter attention spans and ‘always on’ attitudes, education needs to be innovative and in some cases, gamified, to cut through the noise and keep students engaged.
- Tools for schools. Believe it or not, AI is helping schools automate and manage much of the admin-heavy tasks that used to bog down staff. With a shift to smart grading, digital coursework tools and paperless classrooms, education establishments are getting back valuable time, money and resources.
The importance of edtech during a pandemic
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education for many, from primary schools to universities. In an ideal world, establishments could easily continue to deliver coursework, learning and classes via digital channels, but the reality is that much of the sector isn’t (or at least wasn’t) quite there yet.
Lack of resources had meant that many schools’ approach to edtech has been deprioritised or even defunded. But a sudden shift to homeschooling has meant that many have had to adopt digital learning almost overnight. In the same way that our workplaces have learned hard and fast that remote work and Zoom meetings are ‘the new norm’, schools have had to accelerate their uptake of online solutions. Whilst this is a welcome shift, only 28% of American schools provided real-time interactive learning, and only 5% provided devices to students. 72% of schools provided digital resources in a more traditional ‘login and learn’ approach.
“The pandemic has exposed the inflexibility of our education system,” he says. “Students face countless threats to learning: illness, poverty, the passing of loved ones and, indeed, pandemics; let’s not assume COVID is the last. Flexibility must be ingrained in education systems. Learning must be resilient to the inevitable disruptions faced by students in an increasingly volatile world.”
Dr Junaid Mubeen, Director of Education, Whizz Education
What does edtech mean to us at AndAnotherDay?
Whilst some of the AAD team are born in entirely different decades to others, we all share a common view that the technology we were exposed to throughout our early education wasn’t anything to write home about. Which is a shame, because we all love working in tech. But we’d like to see more and more people taking their first steps into web development, software engineering or computer programming, and with the rise of edtech solutions in schools, colleges and universities, this is a really exciting time for anyone considering studying a STEM subject.
Today, the UK has a strong reputation for higher education in STEM, with students from all over the world coming here to study and ultimately secure a job in the tech industry. Whilst some of us grew up knowing that was a clear passion for us, others weren’t so sure. And that is the role of edtech – to spark an interest or a desire in an individual, enough so that they may want to explore technology beyond school, college or university, and turn their passion into a brilliant, life-saving application, a beautiful multiplatform game, or a solution to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.
Sponsoring the Story Cube Sprint
We’re chuffed to be sponsoring Story Cube’s Edtech Sprint, in partnership with Jisc. It’s an online programme that covers strategy, sales and storytelling in a way that is designed to help edtech entrepreneurs inspire others, pitch their ideas and sell their products with ease.
Think of it like a mini accelerator programme, helping establish stronger strategies across many parts of a business, such as team motivation, a better equipped sales force or stronger collaboration with creatives.
Run by Michael Murdoch and Robbin Dale, two highly experienced Brand Strategists, these programmes consist of online courses, expert coaching and a supportive community.
You can read more about this programme here, and be sure to check out what else Story Cube have to offer.
How was your edtech experience throughout your formative years? Technologically tantalising or universally underwhelming? Let us know in the comments below.