A different way of teaching and learning: the EdTech revolution is here
Chalkboards, paper textbooks and written exams are making way for EdTech, a revolutionary method aimed at transforming education systems from top to bottom. What is it and what are the benefits of educational technology?
The digital revolution that has been in full swing since the turn of the century has transformed almost every corner of our lives. From our finances to the way we engage with our friends and family. However, the truth is that not all sectors have advanced or been transformed at the same pace. One such sector is education. Although, at the height of the pandemic, new technologies changed the way students accessed academic content or communicated with teachers, there is still much to be done.
Enter EdTech or educational technology: the array of tools and solutions that make it possible to study and review learning processes from a technological perspective. Students and teachers have increasing access to technological resources and processes for learning and teaching.
In practice, EdTech equips users with a range of digital applications, software or other technological resources to support learning, making it more personalised. In other words, the aim is to broaden the range of resources available through new technologies so that students can best tailor it to their specific type of intelligence, personality and individual circumstances. And this includes using different channels, ranging from webinars, artificial intelligence, VR games, to harnessing big data to gauge students’ progress and determine what works best for them, etc.
So EdTech clearly has multiple benefits, especially in the current context. Notable among them is the possibility of adapting the content to a diverse range of learning styles.
Experts have pinpointed some other benefits of EdTech: greater teacher-student and student-student interaction, development of technological skills, a personalised educational experience, process accessibility or automation.
Investment idea and opportunity
According to figures published by PitchBook, annual venture capital investment in EdTech start-ups has increased significantly since 2019. In that year, funding for the sector amounted to $5.4 billion. This increased almost threefold in 2020, reaching $14 billion, culminating in record investment of $16.8 billion in 2021.
Furthermore, the interest in investing in these platforms was also evidenced by the increase in their market value. According to the global research report E-Learning Market Trends 2020-2026, this market’s capitalisation exceeded $144 billion in 2019, and is expected to grow by more than 8% annually through 2026.
EdTech in public education: the Swiss experience
One of the countries leading the way in EdTech is Switzerland, where the Swiss National EdTech Testbed Program was launched in autumn of 2022. Public schools taking part in this initiative can choose from a total of eight EdTech solutions to be tested according to their interests and needs, and the list is continuously updated with additional solutions. A real-world testbed that will be very useful for observing the results and impact. This is certainly a development that could lead to some very interesting findings giving additional impetus to technology applied to education.
There are a few specific players driving this revolution in learning, such as Coursera, BlackBoard, Chegg, EdX, Platzi and Coderhouse. Each of these companies has opted for revolutionary formulas that could completely transform the education sector. For example, BlackBoard, in addition to offering online courses, has opted to set up student communities for students to interact with each other and open discussion forums to improve their learning.
Another disruptive player is Chegg, which offers a tool designed specifically for preparing exams more dynamically, with the additional benefit of simply explaining complex concepts. The idea is that students not only learn by rote, but actually understand what they are studying. EdX, meanwhile, makes courses from universities such as Harvard available to students anywhere in the world. Platzi, another of the most disruptive players, has opted to create a large community in which to share knowledge, mixing audiovisual content with practical tools for testing students’ knowledge.
All of them are easily accessible platforms for all levels of education, with a wide variety of courses and myriad resources to make learning easier. They include webinars, chats with peers or direct channels with teachers. And they also offer live classes, simpler and more didactic exam preparation and a specialist branch for companies to help their employees. Particularly positive is that most courses are certified by some of the world’s leading educational institutions.