We are all aware of the importance of education: it nourishes and enhances lives, enriches societies, and changes the world for the better.  By 2035, there are expected to be 2.7 billion students worldwide, meaning that at least two universities need to be built every day to accommodate the growing population.  As demand for education rises steadily, technological resources are playing a key role in transforming and enhancing the education process for students and teachers alike.  In this article, we explore what’s happening in the revolutionary EdTech sector, and what it could mean for the future of pedagogy.

What is EdTech?

Educational technology, simplified as EdTech, is the use of technological resources in the forms of products, apps, and tools in an effort to improve educational institutions. From eBooks to online courses, we’ve all witnessed the meteoric ascent of digital learning platforms.  Yet aside from these mainstream developments, technology is being used in subtle and fascinating ways to revamp the classroom environment.  The notion of using innovative technology to refine how we learn and obtain skills has attracted record amounts of venture capital funding.  Since 1997, $37.8 billion has been invested in educational technology companies, with a striking 62% of that figure invested between 2015 and 2017.  With the EdTech sector garnering massive interest, traditional, “talk and chalk” learning techniques are growing more and more outdated.

What are some recent EdTech developments?

EdTech has already made a profound impact on the quality of education.  In 2017, the US EdTech company receiving more funding than any other ($190 million) was EverFi.  EverFi is an education network that provides innovative and scalable digital learning resources to a wide variety of learners.  Supplying “real world” knowledge, EverFi operates in off-curriculum, but highly valuable content areas such as financial literacy, student loan management, digital literacy, STEM readiness, health and wellness, and more.  With a 16 million+ user base, EverFi has proven to be an effective education tool and resource for 21st century individuals seeking to acquire the key life skills that can be difficult to glean elsewhere.

Hero K12 was another company that sparked a lot of attention last year, raking in $150 million in funding.  With a focus on student behavior management, Hero K12 developed Hero, an in-browser web platform as well as a mobile app that captures and tracks school-wide behavior data.  In this way, instructors can observe incidents and behavior on campus and reinforce the good while managing the bad.  Hero K12 is therefore an immensely impactful tool—dedicated to making students safer, smarter, and more successful.

Other beneficial and massively popular EdTech tools include Duolingo, Grammarly, and Turnitin.  These platforms further facilitate our access to knowledge and learning. Helping users ensure that their papers, emails, and other important documents are accurately proof-read, Grammarly’s free online grammar checker is trusted by millions of students and professionals everyday. Duolingo’s free language-learning website and app functions as both an easy and science-based method to pick up on a foreign language and boasts 200 million users worldwide. Lastly, Turnitin serves as an online plagiarism-checker, enforcing the values of academic integrity, originality, and honesty in the classroom.

With great developments in EdTech so far, analysts are making lofty predictions. With 813 EdTech companies funded in 2017, the highest record since 2015, Meetari’s Chief Researcher Sam Adkins remarks: “The industry is in a period of profound innovation and transformation.”

 What can we look forward to?

While technology can easily be added to a classroom, the difficulty lies in making that technology an integral part of the classroom’s ecosystem.  In an earlier post this year, we discussed how Internet of Things (IoT) is on the rise and is a top tech trend to watch in 2018.

The spur of recent IoT developments demonstrates how interconnected devices are more frequently being used to facilitate our daily lives.  We imagine that integrated technologies will foster more collaborative and effective learning environments.  For example, wireless collaboration software can enable a student to share information from a personal-device to a classroom display in seconds.  Cloud-based school networks might also allow students to easily refer to online resources and share notes and thinking points.

EdTech also has massive, influential potential to be a force for good. We envision that advancements in EdTech will continue to fight key issues facing the education sector—like cyberbullying and absenteeism.

Despite significant efforts to discourage cyberbullying and its harmful effects, the number of occurrences continues to grow with 87% of youth having witnessed cyberbullying.  To combat the cyberbullying epidemic, one high school student invented an app called Sit With Us.  Functioning like a social media platform, students download the app and can then register as “ambassadors.”  During lunch time, ambassadors open up their lunch tables to anyone keen on joining.  Sit With Us aims to promote friendly and inclusive educational environments, and we predict that future EdTech tools will follow suit.

Absenteeism is a chronic issue that educational institutions face, affecting students, teachers, and the quality of schools in general. Aside from the obvious negative impact absenteeism has on a student’s academic success and well-being, schools with more absenteeism receive less national funding.  For instance, Los Angeles Unified School District’s attendance task force found that if each of its students attended one more day of school in 2017, the district would have received an additional $30 million in funding. Technology might therefore be used to help educators spot and monitor students that may be at-risk of absenteeism.  Furthermore, through fostering more positive and inclusive learning environments, technological tools may have the effect of reducing absenteeism rates.

Overall, Capital IBIS and EdTechXGlobal predict that the EdTech market could be worth $252 billion by 2020.  The expanding horizon of effective technology integration is sure to leave an indelible mark on the education sector in the coming years.  We’re excited to witness how these new innovations will facilitate the learning process and hopefully benefit society as a whole.

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