The Rise of Edtech
The other week Techcrunch published an article hailing Edtech as the new Fintech. With uncertainty surrounding the US Presidential election and England bowing out of the European Union, Fintech (Financial Technology) is likely to take a hit, meaning investors are looking to invest in a more stable industry.
“Enter edtech — 2017’s big, untapped and safe investor opportunity.”
Edtech (Educational Technology) is nothing new but there is a new level of interest and investment in edtech. According to Techcrunch, global investment in edtech will reach $252 billion by 2020. Even companies like Amazon are sensing the potential in edtech as they are preparing to launch Amazon Inspire, a free platform for educators to search and share digital educational resources.
There are good reasons behind why edtech is gaining new interest and investors. Firstly, edtech allows for education to become personalized, accessible and cheap. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been the biggest edtech trend recently with companies like Udacity and Coursera offering nanodegrees and partnerships with many major universities. Many of these MOOCs offer free courses or significantly cheaper options that allow people to continue their education or just learn out of pure curiosity.
Secondly, education is a relatively safe investment because it is a huge market that has gone relatively unchanged (and unsaturated) over the last century. While technology has always made it’s way into classrooms, the fundamentals of teaching have not changed greatly to incorporate these new technologies. There is still room for edtech to positively impact the classroom.
Finally, there is also the inevitable behind edtech, students will be expected to use technology in daily life, both for leisure and future careers, so integration should begin in the classrooms. Integration is the reason edtech has failed time and again. For edtech to thrive in any classroom and at any educational level, it needs to come with proper training and integration. In an interview with Edsurge, Alan November perfectly labels technology that is not implemented correctly a “$1000 pencil”. Smartboards have to be the best example of this “$1000 pencil”, they were hyped across schools as the next big thing, promising teachers and administrators an improved teaching and learning experience. After costing schools thousands, many of the hyped features of the smartboards have gone unused leaving schools with nothing but an expensive whiteboard. Lack of proper implementation and training are to blame for smartboards being considered one of edtech’s biggest failures.
“I think the industry has some responsibility for this. They should understand that if you’re selling someone something, you have to be upfront and say, “Look, this is complex and difficult, and we’re going to help you understand how sophisticated this is.” — Alan November
Technology should not be seen as a separate entity from learning, technology can and should be integrated into the learning process. Edtech companies that are looking to be apart of any classroom from kindergarten to university level, should aim to properly train teachers and have their technology fully integrated in the learning process, this is key for edtech fulfilling it’s destiny as the next fintech.
Are you a student or teacher? What have been your experiences with new technology in the classroom?