November 27, 2022
More than 2 years after the pandemic forced school closures worldwide, countries are still striving to ensure education continuity as new coronavirus variants emerge at frighteningly regular intervals. In the absence of a widespread vaccine protocol for children, full-scale face-to-face learning is still a distant reality.
In this uncertain climate, the only thing that remains certain is that technological innovations will be at the heart of education systems worldwide. Technology-led remote learning is here to stay, and it holds promise for addressing inequality and building skills to ensure a better future for today’s students.
In India, EdTech startups have raised over $3 billion since the start of the pandemic, and this is set to increase in the coming years. The government has also shown its commitment to supporting the EdTech sector through initiatives such as the National Education Policy 2020.
The question now is how EdTech providers worldwide respond to the needs of students and educators in building products that drive change. It is important to identify the underlying trends in the market, given that many past efforts to transform the education system have failed. Globally, learners cannot afford to be let down by their technology partners any longer.
With the shift to remote learning, there has been a strong inclination from learners to complete their modules and submit projects at their own pace. Asynchronous learning is on-trend, allowing students greater freedom and flexibility in learning.
Technology’s most significant impact has been the creation of personalized learning pathways. Students have shown keenness for individual attention from instructors, who can tap into real-time data to track their problems and learning progress. Data-rich models can help students develop holistically.
There is a growing global demand for tools that empower learners to learn for themselves in collaborative and flexible ways. EdTech companies will also need to deliver engaging content to learners that show positive learning outcomes. Researchers have highlighted that when learners have greater autonomy over their learning, they are more engaged, show greater signs of well-being and satisfaction with their educational environments.
In the past, DEI efforts for EdTech platforms meant content delivery to differently-abled beneficiaries. Today, along with accessibility, digital learning platforms must provide tools and content that make learning possible for learners of all socioeconomic classes. It is particularly important since Covid-19 has demonstrated a huge digital divide. According to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, just 3% of rural Indian households have access to the internet, compared to 38% of urban households. This digital divide has profound implications for education, as learnerss from rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing online resources and distance learning opportunities. While some initiatives have been launched to close the gap, such as providing free Wi-Fi in public places, much more needs to be done to ensure that all beneficiaries have equitable access to the internet and the educational opportunities it can provide.
Moreover, repeated nationwide school closures and limited resource availability for learners, families, and educators, have wiped out years of learning progress in education. All of this builds a strong case for learning platforms to offer offline content. As a society, and particularly as the younger generation becomes more invested in issues like DEI( Diversity, Equality & Inclusion) and environmental protection, EdTech platforms will need to pay attention to these factors to increase brand value and adoption.
With the advent of the internet and the rise of online commerce, an understanding of digital technologies is essential for both individuals and businesses. While some progress has been made in recent years, the reality is that much of India remains largely offline. This is not only a hindrance to economic development, but it also puts individuals at a disadvantage. In a world where so much information is available online, those who are not able to access and use it are at a significant disadvantage.
Apart from learning loss, it is important to remember the disastrous consequences of the pandemic for many students, who might have suffered the loss of loved ones. Supporting students’ SEL is important to support their mental well-being, catch up on learning loss, return to school, and adapt to new circumstances. SEL has specific benefits for disadvantaged learners, who didn’t have much support during institutions closures. Technology can support various strategies to address such inequalities.
Also, there is now increased stress on other aspects of pupils development beyond numeracy and literacy. Multilingual content can make students from different cultures and emotional backgrounds feel valued. It can teach kids about the importance of diversity. Soft skills like communication, listening, problem-solving and more are important for learners to succeed in the future. Thus, incorporating assessments and curriculum for SEL, or creating and distributing a separate SEL curriculum is the need of the hour for schools, districts, and educators.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be harnessed to provide more personalized and interactive learning experiences. While changes have already begun to take shape in many state curriculums for personalization, AI has the potential to enable hyper-personalized journeys.
Research suggests that the gross value of Augmented Reality (AR) in education could reach $5.3 billion by 2023 and it might touch $640 million for head-mounted Virtual Reality (VR) tools used in education. Unfortunately, most skilling organisations and collges are having a difficult time implementing this technology. Thus, it becomes important to address this issue and maximize its benefits in the coming years.
Lastly, technology has to adopt a laser focus on improving the instructional core. Despite technological advancements in the recent past, educators continue to remain the most important element in the learning process for students. Authentic student engagement, high-quality instructional materials, and technology tools are imperative for positive learning outcomes. In a blended learning approach, various content formats like videos, audios, eBooks, translators, and dynamic assessments will make their jobs easier.
EdTech firms must ensure that tools are easy-to-use, and that content authoring solutions power content creators to develop accessible and inclusive learning materials.
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