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An Introduction to Edtech
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Edtech
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An Introduction to Edtech

 

edtech

 

What does Edtech mean?

 

edtech-wordcloud.jpgEdtech – short for Education Technology, uses computing hardware or software to revolutionise pedagogy. The tradition of teachers using physical  textbooks, supplemented with handwritten homework is becoming a thing of the past as pupils learn to access course materials, fulfil homework, take exams and receive feedback without leaving their digital environment.

 

This digital transformation has meant that complete sectors are now slowly shifting online, such as in banking and finance. Whilst no-one would want to see wholescale change such as this occur in schools, it is inevitable that the sector will look vastly different in 10 years time than how we see it today.

 

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.”

-Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder

 

 


What is driving this shift?

 

Change in schools often occurs in line with the cost, ease of implementation and behavioural inertia involved. There are already large parts of education which, will relatively little change can be switched to a digital tool.

 

Database systems are often the first to change, where the important thing is making it easy to accurately record and access information. For example in schools registration, school record keeping, pupil attainments and timetabling have all quickly moved to a digital solution. This has helped make them repeatable and verifiable and cut down on the need for paper records.

 

School analytics is often the next step as once this data is captured and accessible it is then much easier to gain insight from it. For example pupil’s academic records to see where there are shortfalls in knowledge and therefore identifying where more instruction is needed.

 

interactive screen tablet mirroringClassroom technologies have proven one of the most popular ways to introduce Edtech into schools. The classic example of this was the introduction of smart whiteboards and later, touchscreens into the classroom. More recent innovation are augmented and virtual reality solutions as well as 3D printers. All of these solutions can be applied to multiple subjects which makes them much better value for money.

 

Collaboration technologies, some might say, is the heart of Edtech because it allows feedback, disagreement and peer-to-peer learning which are all proven to have huge impacts on the learning outcomes of children.

 

Curriculum-specific technologies are some of the hardest The more complicated areas of change are where there is a need for wholesale replacement of a curriculum, or part of a curriculum. This is doubly the case in the UK where the national curriculum is often changing year on year, making repetition more difficult.

 

 

It is hard to argue that both classroom technology and curriculum technology make for a more stimulating and exciting learning environment. When this excitement is channeled by a teacher into real interest in a subject, it is proven that learning results go through the roof.

 

The speed of change which a school can achieve is a combination of budgetary constraints, teamwork, process efficiency and luck

 

Personalisation

 

Often the watchword in Edtech, ‘personalisation’ is the aim to use data about a student’s past results to help inform how a technology tries to engrain that learning and introduce new concepts. Examples of this are tools which ‘learn’ or ‘adapt’ automatically to a pupil’s work and those which allow teachers to manually identify each pupil’s learning outcomes and adjust their work accordingly.

 


Edtech as a tool in Continued Professional Development

 

Education is no longer something which is neglected once we leave school. Edtech offers two opportunities in this respect. Firstly Edtech is a tool which can be used by teachers and schools to actively drive and measure Continued Professional Development (CPD) in their staff. Secondly it is something which introduces manageable change into a teacher’s’ work life. By reacting, learning about and implementing this change, teachers can earn CPD credits for implementing Edtech.

 

Examples of CPD Edtech include interactive training videos and deconstucted online training courses. These courses break larger CPD objectives down into more manageable chunks for time-poor teachers. Technology can be used to both deliver these courses or just make them more accessable to the wider teacher community.

 


Cost-effective Edtech

 

Any change within a school has a cost associated with it. The cost of purchasing the new textbooks, eLearning solution or computer is the most obvious. The opportunity cost of not using other solutions, the cost of training existing staff or hiring new staff to manage it. The time-cost of taking teachers or staff away from other duties for training. Lastly, the ongoing cost of maintenance or subscription costs.

 

These costs are gradually receding as we move from the early adopter stage through to the early majority stage. Part of our mission at Wonderhub is to help Tech Enthusiasts and Visionaries to pass on their knowledge and experience to those joining later on

 


Edtech Adoption in Schools

 

 

Costs are also incurred due to this constant progression of technology. Digital publishers need to constantly adapt their solutions to new hardware as well as respond to changes in the curriculum and political agendas. Conventionally these changes could be made over long periods in which schools used the same course materials.

 

edtech product adoption curve

The curve demonstrates the average rate of uptake of new technologies by a whole population. Innovators are small in number, reaping the benefits for much longer, in exchange for trying technologies which are potentially immature

 

A shift-change is occurring for schools and Edtech suppliers

 

Procurement within schools has never been a stable thing but the whole landscape has changed since 2010, with austerity hitting schools hard and the buying power of local authorities curtailed or stopped.

 

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and it is fair to say that there is a fair amount of innovation occurring in response to these changes. Schools are being forced to become more commercial. School business managers are becoming ubiquitous, with schools trying to think like businesses to reduce costs and create commercial opportunities such as event hiring and property leasing.

 

Edtech suppliers are responding by creating more commercial and flexible solutions. Packaged solutions help take away from of the purchasing headache by wrapping everything up for a school that they will need. Technology-loans help budget poor schools get their hands on Edtech when they need it. Group purchasing and framework solutions help reduce the cost of Edtech for schools by reducing the cost of selling to them.

 


 

The future of Edtech

 

Just as with any technology revolution it is hard to see what changes will prove sustainable and which will just never take off. We were meant to be going around in driverless cars by now and we can’t be the only person still waiting for their hoverboard.

 

We inherently understand that tangible things are more memorable and have a better learning impact than intangible numbers. The first gamification of education is arguably the first time someone asked a child to add 2 apples to 3 apples instead of giving them the formula 2+3. Every progress down this path, from using images to video to smartboards and now virtual reality has the same objective, to further engrain the lesson being taught.

 

Innovation happens when someone takes two abstract ideas and combines them to create something new. So many of the latest Edtech tools are exciting on their own but game-changing when you think of their future applications.

 

VR in the classroom

 

For an example, we have virtual teachers who can help you learn a language from the other side of the planet. At the same time we have VR headsets which can help you believe that you are on the other side of the planet. How long until synergistic ideas like this start to become possible and the walls of the classroom truly start to come down?

 

Peer-to-peer learning is proven to have a hugely beneficial effect on both the student-teacher and the student-learner. Perhaps tools that match pupils with complementary learning objectives can help harness this in the classroom. Perhaps the further introduction of VR as above means that we’re not even limited to pupils in the same school, town or country.

 

 

The Evolution of Edtech

 

For an example, we have virtual teachers who can help you learn a language from the other side of the planet. At the same time we have VR headsets which can help you believe that you are on the other side of the planet. How long until synergistic ideas like this start to become possible and the walls of the classroom truly start to come down?

 

Peer-to-peer learning is proven to have a hugely beneficial effect on both the student-teacher and the student-learner. Perhaps tools that match pupils with complementary learning objectives can help harness this in the classroom. Perhaps the further introduction of VR as above means that we’re not even limited to pupils in the same school, town or country.

evolution of man tech

 

Watch this space…

Wonderhub’s new eBook ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Edtech’ will be available for download soon!

 

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