At first, it was a natural evolution in an increasingly technology-oriented world. But over the last year and a half, EdTech quickly became an indispensable tool without which millions of students, from grade school to college, could not have continued their education.
Today, more than 92% of teachers believe that technology will have a major impact on the way they teach in the near future. Students, of course, have grown up with technology, and increasingly require technology-based resources in and around the classroom to continue being effective.
So what, exactly, is EdTech, and how has it evolved in the last few years? Where can we see examples of it in education today, and where will it go within the next few years? Join us on an exploration of this increasingly crucial part of the education system and processes.
What is EdTech?
Put simply, Education Technology (short EdTech) is the process of using technology to promote, enhance, and deliver education at all levels. It means using IT platforms to create more inclusive learning experiences, easier access to vital information, and improved student onboarding.
In other words, it’s about using technology to enhance student success. That sounds specialized, but has become an increasingly central part of the modern education experience. In fact, the global EdTech industry is expected to top $400 billion by 2025. In summer 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 93% of US educators reported teaching at least one class remotely using technology.
How EdTech is changing the modern education landscape?
These statistics leave little doubt: over the last few years, ed tech has evolved from a relatively niche industry focused entirely on online learning to a wide-ranging field that is beginning to change the modern education industry. The basis of it, of course, is still in remote learning, as some examples of EdTech solutions exemplify:
- Canvas, a learning management system that distributes assignments, grades, and faculty support along with facilitating collaboration.
- GoBoard, a free online tool combining video conferencing with other collaborative features.
- Labster, which provides access to a virtual lab experience to perform experiments and practice their skills.
- Loop, empowering students to provide feedback that improves the instructor’s teaching over time.
- Lucid for Education, which allows for diagramming and designs that help students gain vital digital skills.
- READY, a student experience platform with built-in machine learning that helps students find events, services, courses, and more.
- Texthelp, which helps students with literacy disabilities or dyslexia more easily transition from high school to college.
- ThingLink, an easy way to customize videos and images while also allowing for the creation of anything from audio recordings to course assignments.
- Wakelet, which allows for the creation of anything from instructor newsletters to student portfolios.
Though they can all help to improve the educational experience for online students, none of these tools are reserved exclusively for online learning. Others, like automated plagiarism checkers and video annotation software, are just as helpful for students in the classroom as they are for computer-based learners.
And that, ultimately, is the core evolution of education technology over the past decade. In today’s environment, technology has become inevitable. Forward-thinking educational institutions have learned to embrace it, leveraging its advantages for all of their students rather than reserving its use only for those who absolutely need it due to a lack of face-to-face instruction.
The broad scope of EdTech available today.
Perhaps the best way to explain the power and promise of EdTech in today’s environment is through examples that go beyond the remote learning options today. Capacity’s educational integrations, for instance, have expanded to include a number of technology-based options to improve the student and faculty experience.
First, student onboarding (from orientation through the end of the first semester) is widely acknowledged as a crucial piece of long-term retention, and a leading indicator for graduation rates. An AI-powered chatbot allows new students to find anything they need, from billing dates to the library’s opening hours, with a simple question. Self-optimized learning capabilities improve the experience over time.
This type of chatbot, of course, is not just beneficial for incoming students. Current students might want to know about anything from how to get a copy of their transcript to their registration window for the next term. Especially at large institutions where no single office can possibly have all the answer, the chatbot turns into a go-to resource for students over time.
In the classroom, an AI-driven virtual teaching assistant allows students to manage and adjust their expectations, even when classes move from brick and mortar to online education. It allows students to ask questions on their own time, while still receiving the answers they need to succeed.
Some student needs are complex, and will always require human touches to satisfy. Others, like transcript requests, can easily be automated. Workflow software like Capacity can create these automated steps, minimizing the manual work and allowing student-facing offices to focus on more high-touch situations and resolutions for their constituents.
Finally, faculty and staff are among the most crucial resources that educational institutions have today. They are what can make a student’s experience a success or failure. The right solution allows internal audiences to get the information they need to help students, from quickly finding FAFSA dates to questions about policies and procedures.
Creating a better educational experience through AI.
We are still only scratching the surface of what EdTech can accomplish in improving the education of millions of students at all levels of the systems. AI-enabled technology in education, though, promises to be especially beneficial. By automating a personalized experience that can help with anything from tutoring to improving access for students with disabilities, it can play a key role for schools and universities fulfilling their educational mission.