Reading, writing, and arithmetic. No learning is possible without a fundamental basis in the quintessential “three Rs.” Technology, even if rudimentary, has always supported students as they learn to read, write, multiply and divide–and perhaps eventually find a cure for cancer. The extent of modern EdTech in today’s classrooms, homes, offices, and lecture halls provides new ways of learning, teaching, and administering education.
Let’s examine the scope of EdTech in today’s education environment. We’ll first take in a broad overview and then look at ways educators and other interested professionals can utilize technology in their own circumstances and help lead the future of EdTech.
What is EdTech?
In today’s context, EdTech is an umbrella term encompassing the digital technology used to manage, support, and deliver educational classes, courses, and programs. Edtech includes the hardware, software, and processes involved in delivering education.
Examples of EdTech include:
Customer relationship managers are well-established in the business world. Education CRMs are essential platforms for disseminating timely information to parents, students, teachers, and staff. CRMs automate tedious clerical tasks like tracking forms and admissions processes. For example:
Learning Management System (LMS):
Learning management systems enable the administration, documentation, tracking, evaluation, automation, and delivery of courses. Leading LMS platforms for K-12 education include:
Student Information System (SIS):
Student information systems serve as a cloud-based hub helping teachers, school administrators, students, and parents store and manage data. These data consist of test scores, grades, attendance records, behavioral assessments, and more depending on needs and circumstances. Some examples include:
The available EdTech platforms are too numerous to mention here. Many available platforms incorporate a CRM, LMS, and SIS in one seamless package for an integrated education delivery, assessment, and communication experience.
Edtech in the Classroom
The benefits of EdTech extend to all stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
Educational technology offers a creative palette of possibilities for creating engaging and individualized lesson plans. Differentiated learning is a powerful tool made possible through modern Edtech.
One of the hottest EdTech trends is “extended” reality (XR), incorporating augmented and virtual reality. XR makes possible an immersive learning experience. The technology powers virtual labs and other tools that engage students, encourage collaboration, and serve students with a variety of special needs.
Most students today are digital natives, which means they have had exposure to technology since birth. However, we shouldn’t mistake that for digital literacy. The promise and peril of our digitally connected world are evident in the daily news. Digital literacy education provides students the cognitive and technical skills to safely interact in the digital world.
EdTech offers an obvious platform and opportunity to teach principles of digital literacy.
Pathways of Innovation
Digital technology drives today’s EdTech, but education technology predates the computer age. From the abacus, magic lanterns, and chalkboards to B.F Skinner’s early experimentation, technological tools have informed educational methods.
With the digital revolution, education, as with nearly every other economic sector has fueled once-unimagined innovation in education technology and methodologies. Increasing investment dollars drive that innovation.
By 2019, investment in EdTech turned sharply upward, even from a previous historic year.
“The investments made to learning technology companies in 2019 were the highest in the history of the learning technology industry by an extraordinary margin,” reports an analysis by METAARI Advanced Learning Technology. 2019 “blasted past the records set between 2015 and 2017 and far outpaced the historic high in 2018,” says the report.
Education Technology’s Trial by Fire
The infusion of investment dollars proved prescient as the pandemic triggered massive change at breakneck speed. By late March 2020, classrooms were idled for 1.3 billion students globally. If there had been any sluggishness in EdTech’s adoption, it vanished. EdTech suddenly took center stage.
EdTech emerges more diverse, capable, and better funded than ever. The stage is set for a post-pandemic pedagogy.
Across the country, classrooms, school districts, and training organizations, skilled and insightful leaders are needed more than ever as education technologies and methods continue to scale.