Education has remained largely the same for hundreds of years. Technology is changing that and at a rapid pace. So what exactly is Education Technology or “EdTech” as it is commonly termed?
What is the definition of EdTech?
EdTech includes everything from using computers or tablets in classrooms, to the submission of homework online, online class discussions, entire online degrees, mobile learning applications, data analytics or gamification.
However, EdTech is not just about reformatting books and training materials, or even about the individual technologies themselves. It is about applying digital technology to deliver a new form of learning. A personalized architecture that delivers individualized learning and training that can automatically adjust to an individual’s learning proficiency and that uses big data analysis to understand the most effective ways for learners to improve.
In changing the traditional architecture of education, EdTech has the power to create efficiencies, cut costs, enable new levels of standardization and unparalleled access. It is set to transform the future of how education is sourced, taught, consumed and, ultimately, the results that it can then yield – both for the individual and for society as a whole as we continue to build the knowledge economy.
A crisis in English language learning education
Leaders in both developing and developed nations recognize that education is critical as a means of improving earning power and bringing more skills-based incomes to their national economies. However, in an overwhelming number of instances, there is a lack of qualified teachers to teach English, which makes widespread English education a very difficult task.
For example, in Colombia a 2013 report revealed that a depressing 75 per cent of English teachers cannot speak the language to the European B2, or “Upper Intermediate” standard. Even more worrying, 14 per cent struggle to pass the A1, or “Beginner” level.
With the immense worldwide demand for learning English far outpacing the amount of skilled teachers available (or lack thereof), there is a crisis in English language learning education.
EdTech is disruptive
Jay Walker explains why two billion people around the world are trying to learn English. He shares photos and spine-tingling audio of Chinese students rehearsing English — “the world’s second language” — by the thousands.
Harvard’s Clayton Christensen’s explains how EdTech is disrupting the education system at the university and college level: he recently predicted that 15 years from now, half of the universities and colleges in the US may be insolvent.
Education: a tradition-bound industry with industrial-era processes = seems ready for the kind of radical transformation that often makes money for investors (VCs). Over $500 million of investors’ money was poured into US and Canadian education startups in 2012 and that number has grown steadily over the past four years.
The impact of EdTech on Costs
Traditional education systems are inherently inefficient.
Worldwide, the combined education and training industries account for spending of more than $4 trillion, representing an 84% increase since 2000. Despite this, literacy and math scores have remained stagnant in the US, while it is estimated that 85 percent of every dollar spent on education is spent delivering it – teaching staff, support staff, physical buildings and facilities, etc.
The correlation between rising education expenditure and educational performance is therefore weak, and improving efficiencies and/or reducing the costs associated with traditional education delivery is a clear opportunity for EdTech and EdTech investors.
This is particularly true for e-learning, which allow for the delivery of one-to-one or one-to-many on a completely new cost basis. Furthermore, the adoption of other technologies like the Cloud have facilitated policies like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in schools, allowing students to use their own equipment. As a result, less money is spent on hardware for schools – which currently makes up about 60 percent of IT budgets in the education space.
Improved user engagement and learning outcomes
By implementing EdTech initiatives in the classroom to augment traditional learning methodology and to create a blended learning environment, more money can then be allocated to educational elements such as smart learning software which provides personalized lesson plans, or innovative digital content such as engaging interactive materials which will improve learning outcomes.
Undeniably, user experience and engagement is fast becoming the main differentiator among the ever-growing field of education technology options.
The integration of multi-media, gamification, and mobile to Lingo Media’s ELL Technologies’ digital product suite makes its content increasingly immersive; designed to not only attract students but also keep them engaged. These learning solutions have been able to accelerate the learning process and have proven to be attractive and results orientedfor users.
EdTech is also creating a stronger link between what happens in the classroom and outside the classroom (at home, in transit, etc.), making teacher-endorsed digital educational resources available at all times. This has shown to be particularly efficacious in developing nations where learning resources have historically been quite limited. By allowing students access to assignments and study materials beyond the classroom, this creates a continuum of touch points in the learning experience for students (and their parents, educators, etc.).
This is changing the way learners are consuming education in the same way Cloud technology has changed the way we consume music (i.e. iTunes or Spotify) and television (i.e. Netflix).
The benefits of big data and adaptive learning
The growth of EdTech has also provided teachers, assessors and parents with far greater access to data on individual strengths, weaknesses, achievements and overall progress.
The arrival of data analytics in education has driven adaptive learning, where data is fed back into the system to influence learning materials. Personalized learning programs are therefore able to be identified and created, bridging previous knowledge gaps that might have previously existed.
Unparalleled access to education
The importance of EdTech is also about the way in which it can equalize standards and enable access for all, resulting in the democratization of education where inequalities of latitude and longitude no longer matter.
Online platforms, mobile applications and new learning formats have drastically improved access to education, as well as enhancing the learning process itself. Immersive learning through gamification has proven to yield extremely successful results.
Now, an unfunded rural school can receive the same standard and depth of content as a well-funded one in a wealthier urbanized area. And this is true not just on a school by school or country by country basis, but globally; offering developing nations access to developed educational institutions, both in an academic and professional learning setting.
Reforming the world through education
The knowledge economy that we invest in for our children via the education system, right through to higher education and on-going, professional development and training is a fundamental support to the rest of our economic lives.
Without it we lose our ability to develop skilled workers, build competitive advantages as nations and generate growth.
To keep developing the knowledge economy we need to ensure, as with other sectors, that we maintain a level of innovation to improve the efficacy and efficiency of our learning systems and methodologies.
This is the importance of EdTech.
Please visit us on our website at www.lingomedia.com to learn even more about investing in EdTech where 2015 was actually a record-setting year for EdTech investment. Investment analyst firm CB Insights wrote this that “the period from 2010 to 2014 saw more than a 503% growth in investment dollars.” Don’t be left behind with this opportunity and be sure to stay tuned to the remaining installments of this miniseries