This year has been a year of a complete tectonic shift in the field of education. The pandemic has contributed majorly to a transition from traditional classroom-based learning to hybrid learning and in many cases even full-service online learning. This trend is not only seen from a learner’s point of view but also in the mindset of employers and companies and is expected to continually grow stronger. What this will also bring is new product interventions and new technology-based solutions to solve newer challenges and lead to greater inclusivity in higher education. We recently heard about the word Edtech almost everywhere. So what really is Edtech?
What is Edtech?
Eduction technology, or “Edtech”, refers to the fusion of technology with education practices to deliver, facilitate, and enhance learning. The classrooms of the future will look remarkably different than today due to the integration of advanced ed-tech tools which will enable a more engaging, effective, inclusive, and personalized learning experience for all students, as rapidly changing circumstances during COVID have shown. Edtech will have far-reaching consequences as in addition to transforming the online teaching (and learning) experience, ed tech can also play a decisive role in ensuring that students gain the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the digital age.
The past, present, and the future of Edtech
Edtech industry is not new to India. In fact, it had been developing years before the first signs of the pandemic, which only led to all those efforts culminate into massive growth and recognition of the online teaching industry. There are some really good Ed-tech companies presently like Teachmint, that cater to specific needs and growing challenges in this field. Online teaching through mobile is no more a hassle, thanks to such amazing apps. To truly fathom the high demand for quality online teaching apps, we must critically examine both, the growth of the Edtech industry in India till now and the projections for growth in the future. The year 2020 saw India’s ed-tech startups raise over $2.2 billion in funding, with a single company alone accounting for $1.35billion. It became the world’s most valued ed-tech startup. As the ed-tech startups saw more and more funding flow, their valuation jumped by leaps and bounds. But, it wasn’t just the investors’ faith that led to growth in ed-tech; the money also flew in as the online teaching companies reported huge growth in the number of users.
Digital content is anything but only a start to how education technology is changing the landscape of the education sector. Many ed-tech facilitated changes are on the cusp of inclusion into the mainstream education industry, including Virtual Reality (VR), gamification, and more personalized online learning opportunities. Some new technology-enabled practices like robotic kits to teach coding, the use of online testing over standard offline testing frameworks; and crowdsourced tutoring or “micro-tutoring” will continue to provide online teaching a necessary boost. In an article, eFaqt.com founder Christiaan Henny predicts nine things that will shape the future of education over the next two decades or so. These include opportunities for learning in different places and times; more personalized learning; free-choice; project-based learning; field experience; data interpretation; exams will be reinvented to reflect capabilities instead of competency; student ownership; and an increased focus on mentoring. Each of these will in some way be propelled by the use of technology.
Why Edtech matter to teachers?
Online teaching is still in its nascent stages and is deemed to be future technology. Much too often, we think of its impact in terms of the student experience, however, it also has transformative potential for teachers. But there are some obstacles to overcome.
While great tech minds might be responsible for creating new technologies, they lack the critical perspective offered by teachers. Conversely, strong educators aren’t necessarily quipped or inclined to deal with all the technology tools available to them and to develop ways to apply them to their discipline. They will be the first o complain that there are enough obstacles in their day-to-day work without asking them to become IT experts, as well.
So, the development of truly effective solutions hinges on achieving the balance between understanding both, the needs of the education sector, as well as how to optimize the said technology once it’s available. Teachers who know the whys and wherefores of new technology are uniquely qualified to bridge this gap.
Thus, the ed-tech sector and the practice of online teaching have and will continue to see exponential growth in the coming future but as with progress in any field, a unique set of challenges will need to be addressed in the field of online teaching as well.