I guess we’re EdTech’ing wrong?

I’m new here — to Medium— but depending on who you ask, I’m not so new to EdTech which is apparently ready for a political and financial boost thanks to Betsy Devos?

Of course EdTech isn’t new, I went through primary school when libraries started switching out card catalogues for computers and substitute teachers wheeled in cathode ray tube televisions strapped to metal wheeled carts with a VCR on the bottom shelf. I even experienced the future when technically adept teachers brought in the LaserDisk. They still used transparencies, though. Always the transparencies. That’s EdTech for you and we’re all apparently doing it wrong.

Full disclosure, I’m on the product side of things at newrow_ and I’ve been with newrow_ well before it was newrow_ (shoutout to Watchitoo).

A quick reference point…newrow_ is a browser-based video collaboration platform built for educators, trainers and coaches. What’s that really mean? At the end of the day, newrow_ is a platform that enables teachers to teach and learners to learn effectively online.

We’re passionate about education technology. I’m passionate about education technology. Why? EdTech aspires to improve learning by utilizing technological innovation that:

  • Extends the reach of quality education: Empowering educators and educational institutions to serve underserved students.
  • Makes teaching more effective: Evolving how we teach and how we learn to yield more opportunity and greater success.
  • Lessens the cost of learning: US student loan debt has reached an estimated $1.2 trillion. Checkout Wendover Productions’ Why College is So Expensive video on YouTube for an interesting breakdown on those not so hidden costs.

By now, most of us have seen MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) go from the next big thing to the not so big previous thing. That’s not to say that MOOC’s are dead, they’re not and they’re great, but the pitfalls are clear. Retention. According to a 2013 Allen & Seaman study, nearly 75% of academic leaders see retention as an important or very important barrier to the growth of online education. Of course! We sign up for online courses like we make our new year’s resolutions — drunk with the possibilities of bettering ourselves and wholly unprepared or unwilling to see it through.

MOOC’s, valiant, well-meaning, and useful as they are, are not a replacement for the magic of the classroom. I’m not sure anything is. Face-to-face time with educators and live interaction with peers is the driving factor in a student’s ability to succeed because it offers full engagement with course material and personalizes the student’s educational experience. It builds personal accountability into the process of learning.

Video classrooms are not attempting to replace the classroom. They’re attempting to recreate the magic of the classroom online. Today they are utilized to provide more learners greater opportunities to a quality education. Those students that register for live, online courses, are able to work with their peers through in-class breakout sessions, study in dedicated study rooms after class and engage directly with their instructors in class or during live, online office hours.

Again video classrooms are not replacing the classroom, but with advancements in browser-based streaming technology such as WebRTC and interactive web-based online tools, video classrooms are accessible, affordable and a true, viable option to improve learning.

If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that I know nothing about politics and very little about how the world works. That being said, regardless of a Secretary of Education favorable to EdTech or not, I’m excited about the world of education technology. There are many brilliant minds doing amazing things and 2017 is proving that.