Digital Learning and Beyond – BW Education

Technology promises greater access to education without location constraints and continuity of learning in times of crisis

A common topic of discussion among teachers has been the changing role of technology in education. Is edtech the future or is edtech a bubble? Does edtech empower teachers or replace teachers? Does it make lesson plans future-proof or just help reach more students at a lower cost? According to a market forecast by Grand View Research, the global investment in the Edtech sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.5%, while in the APAC region it is expected to grow by 19% from 2022 to 2030. growth is driven by three main promises.

The three promises of technology in education

Technology promises greater access to education without location constraints and continuity of learning during a crisis. This has been highlighted during the pandemic and is currently being seen in Ukrainian war zones, where millions of students are displaced.

The technology promises efficiency – “you don’t need to invest in physical infrastructure in terms of buildings” and “you can use the best teachers from anywhere without the corresponding costs”.

Technology promises learning efficiency. Modern techniques attempt to combine audio, video, interactive modules, simulations, adaptive algorithms and performance monitoring to achieve the holy grail of learning outcomes.

However, each of these promises has only been fulfilled to a limited extent.

To access? Yes, we have seen the example of the crisis, and this is true even when one wants to be part of a global university without travelling. But in several cases where technology is increasingly used, you might as well have taken the course physically. Moreover, the underfunded segments of society, where this access could make the biggest difference, have still not benefited much from this boom, given the gaps in connectivity, devices and solution delivery. at low cost – Foundation philanthropic organizations are working to change that.

Efficiency? Again, the cost savings are obvious, but the less visible customer acquisition costs seem to more than eat up those savings. Because you are now in competition with everyone unlike physical establishments which have a natural catchment area. So it’s no surprise to see even the biggest of edtechs launching physical tuition centers with natural watersheds.

Efficiency? While the “jazz” factor of technology is creating engagement for a while and maybe less now, after the overdose of the pandemic, real change in learning outcomes through technology still hasn’t. been proven for much of education. It is true that positive evidence emerges quickly for certain aspects.

So, is digital learning not working?

Far from there! Technology-enhanced digital learning is a necessary tool for education. Centuries ago, the printing press transformed the way information is transmitted and learning takes place. Technology plays a similar transformational role today. However, just as the printing press was a “tool” rather than the “engine” of learning, technology today is a powerful tool. And like any tool, it can be used well, misused and everything in between.

What does it mean to use technology powerfully in learning?

There are no easy answers, but here are four ideas backed by data (and a quick reminder before we get to the ideas – learning with technology doesn’t have to be “online “):

First, clarity on what parts of learning really benefit from technology: Harvard Business School uses business simulations so students can quickly experience decision-making when various parameters change in a business – which is very difficult to see even in a real stage. Closer to home, Ei Mindspark by Educational Initiatives raises different questions based on student understanding – almost impossible without technology. MyCENTA, the largest teacher platform in India, recommends teachers daily learning nuggets based on their interests, skills and research – again very physically challenging.

More importantly, this “clarity” cannot be a “top-down” recommendation from someone, but can only emerge democratically when every teacher using technology is clear if, why, when and how to use it; and each student votes their feet in the engagement and learning they demonstrate.

Second, harnessing the power of hybrid: hybrid is often interpreted as “half my class decided to be online.” But the real power of the hybrid comes from the “levels of learning”: the expert physics teacher from across the country (or for that matter) clarifies deep doubts about a concept while the teacher in the field uses various constructions of the physical world to introduce the concept in a practical way. and guide students holistically; students get the best of both worlds. Education aside, it’s not a new idea – it’s like a multinational corporation consolidating its research center in one place, or an expert heart surgeon just doing the transplant stage of an operation. bridging with the other steps (equally important but time-consuming) carried out by other doctors.

Third, learner motivation: whether technology leads to better learning does not depend on the concept alone; it also depends on the learner. A student preparing for internships is happy to use peers, teachers, or online resources – anything that can increase their chances. A teacher who wants to clarify a doubt quickly in the morning finds a very useful and private mobile application. A middle school kid who looks forward to his friends at school and the fresh air can sometimes be motivated to use technology and sometimes not.

Fourth, teacher skills: The biggest thing we’ve heard from parents who are increasingly using the Internet is, “I just didn’t realize how much two teachers can use the same technology in such a different way! For each of the above ideas to be implemented – clarity on using technology, using hybrid, understanding learner motivation – it is obvious that a competent teacher makes a big difference. With a growing awareness of this, we find that schools as well as education technology providers want their teachers to be certified, both in their broader skills and in their competency in the use of technology. .

An optimistic outlook

As the dust settles, edtech will thrive and grow. These will be the things that will really drive learning access, efficiency and effectiveness. These will be the elements that will recognize that technology is a powerful tool, with the real drivers being the skills and motivation of teachers on the one hand and the styles and motivation of learners on the other.

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