When the COVID19 pandemic forced schools to close in 2020, there was a concern about how online learning and classroom teaching could be brought to the masses.
This was the year that technology became an incredible enabler of learning as teachers took to Google classroom and Zoom to deliver virtual class lessons, and apps such as Class Dojo became household names for managing the delivery of schoolwork for primary school children.
EdTech, however, is so much more than just this though, and innovation has continued far beyond the delivery of virtual learning.
We thought that it would be useful to look at where EdTech has evolved from and what are the latest trends for 2021 and onwards.
What is EdTech?
Edutech or EdTech is a shortening of the phrase “educational technology” which is associated with the practice of combining IT tools with educational practices aimed at facilitating learning with enhanced technologies.
This can include hardware such as PCs and Smartboards or any media that can deliver text, audio, images or animation alongside associated networking hardware to the apps available to deliver an entire virtual classroom – many of which we have all become familiar with over the last 12 months.
These technological tools can either be used to deliver learning in real-time where face to face lessons are delivered live by a teacher, or with apps such as ClassDojo where the learning is self-paced for the student allowing them to complete exercises in their own time at their own pace, independent of teaching staff or other pupils, which is difficult to do when face with the traditional classroom environment.
More than often over the last 12 months, a blend of both has been used by teaching staff and pupils.
EdTech doesn’t need to be about teacher/pupil learning
Many people just assume Education Technology is about teacher/pupil interfaces. Certainly, in this day and age, it is easy to assume that this is about the technology around teaching staff to be able to deliver teaching to the national curriculum, but it is also so much more than that.
With a huge demand for pupils to understand more about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), the need for EdTech both inside and outside the classroom is greater than ever before.
Interactive games, fun coding programmes, apps that help with maths and learning spellings are all part of the growing technology offerings that can be used outside the classroom to help develop skills and curiosity whilst providing fun and motivating teaching aids that can be enjoyed by children of all ages keeping them focussed and engaged.
What is next for EdTech?
Since 2016, the EdTech usage has grown from 42% to over 85%; this has been driven in part by the COVID pandemic that created a seismic shift towards online learning following the closure of schools. However, long before that, classrooms were moving to technology-based learning with the use of tablets and interactive whiteboards and this trend is set to continue when schools reopen.
The biggest leap forwards for EdTech will come as connectivity is improved, and more schools and classrooms have access to laptops and tablets – this will truly help to close the gaps in classroom connectivity.
There is also growing investment in the EdTech sector. 2020 alone saw a 15% growth in investment into an industry now worth over $7Bn – this investment will only improve the technology advancements helping in both software and hardware improvements and enhancing the learning experiences for pupils.
Ultimately, it’s fair to say that most children know technology better than many adults. They are digital natives because technology is part of their everyday lives, so it is only natural that this technology migrates to the classroom and into everyday educational learning.