Why EdTech is So Important

Education is what drives a society. Whether you learn about Plato in an Intro to Philosophy class or study Bayesian machine learning in your bedroom, knowledge is what shapes us as human beings. Leveraging technology to improve learning is a recent trend that will hopefully continue to bring new innovations to the space. I encourage those of you who are passionate about technology, but are lost on what space to work in, to pursue education technology.

My viewpoint, coming from a public school in Oklahoma, is that school is effective how it is — but it could be better. Students from my school were often unmotivated by the curriculum which resulted in them being put off from learning. This is a problem due to self-learning being such a huge requirement in many jobs today. Companies want to see skills that most universities aren’t teaching in the classroom, which — you guessed it — means picking up the skills outside of class. If students are put off from learning, they may get frustrated with new tasks and never take the time to learn in-demand skills. This puts our future labor force at a disadvantage. Low skilled workers != a productive society.

“Our goal is to have all education be personalized. We’re not just talking about the pace at which children learn but how they are learning, how their interests are incorporated, and how different students learn.” — Max Ventilla, Founder and CEO of AltSchool

AltSchool is an elementary school in San Francisco that is redefining education through a more personalized approach. For example, the students choose goals that they wish to accomplish and their teachers work one-on-one with them to strategize on how to achieve said goal.

Goal -> Strategy -> Milestone

While AltSchool keeps the traditional physical building in which a school resides, there are other platforms where learning is completely digitized. Udemy and Coursera are some of the most widely used digital learning platforms. On these websites, students are able to learn user experience design, neuroscience, and anything else they desire. Coursera even features courses from top universities such as Stanford, Penn, and Yale. If you are attending a small state school, like I am, using these tools can help further your education and explore newfound interests. For example, I took a course on Human-Computer Interaction from Stanford on Coursera which helped me to discover the field of user experience — the field that I currently work in.

With online resources, you can always be learning. Of course, people spending all of their time learning is only a pipe dream for those obsessed with education, but it is possible.

My hopes for the future of EdTech

  1. I want to see an AltSchool for high school students. A school focused on entrepreneurship, liberal arts, and hard sciences. Give students the ability to craft their schedules how they want. Foster an open environment that encourages collaboration on building something great, rather than collaboration on a homework assignment they don’t want to be doing.
  2. I want to see more online educational websites with free courses. Udemy and Coursera are great, but no one is trying to spend over $200 on a course that will most likely be outdated in a year. Khan Academy is a fantastic resource for free material, but there needs to be subject matter.
  3. I want to see more students passionate about education. We need some of the bright young minds of this generation to put a foot down and reinvent the future of how our society consumes information.
  4. I want to see more platforms for sharing ideas. Medium is a fantastic place for this, but I believe it could also be effective on a micro-level where the topic is more conversational. Think Twitter, but for sharing innovative ideas.

Let’s make the future of EdTech exceptional. I’m excited for what’s to come.

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