In recent months educational technology (EdTech) has seen a rise in use and popularity, and not just due to Covid-19. But, what is educational technology? Simply put it’s the use of technology in teaching, via a mix of software, educational theory and computer hardware, in order to enable learning and increase performance.
Education has come on leaps and bounds since the digital age and we are now discovering, and implementing, new ways to learn assisted by technology. Long gone are the days of solely learning by rote or copy, and the era or more methodical learning with technology is on the horizon. Educational technology can range from the simplistic such as interactive online courses for students, to robots able to take lecture notes – the scope of EdTech is wide and far reaching.
At its core the role of EdTech is to improve education via technology, however it has many roles depending on who is applying it and who the audience is. For example, it can play a vital role in helping students with additional needs to show their true potential, unhindered by their needs or disadvantages. In a recent report Candida Dearing, SENCO at City of London Academy, explained the role of EdTech when it comes to students with Dyslexia:
“By using the technology, pupils can show people what they can do, as opposed to what they can’t do. If you have someone who has illegible handwriting or un-decode-able spelling errors etc., all you’re going to see are the errors and not the good work that’s behind them. So using the technology means that you get a truer sense of their underlying ability in the subject”.
In this way EdTech can level the playing field of education by making it easily understandable and accessible to all abilities. In a show of support for the role of EdTech the Department of Education recently pledged £100m to provide devices and internet access for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the UK, as well as ensuring every school has free access to tech support. This commitment and investment from the Department of Education shows just how important the role of EdTech is, and will become over the next few years.
EdTech is important to help students learn new skills, interact with their peers in new ways and to discover new technology to help them build a solid knowledge database. But the importance goes much further than the students; it is extremely important for educators and students’ families too. Parents and guardians are able to have access to their child’s educational records and thus the ability to help with targeted education in the home for areas in which the student may be struggling. Education can be digested anywhere and at any time, meaning learning isn’t just bound by the walls of a school or the presence of a teacher. It means that education can be at a students fingertips whenever and wherever.
A study by the University of Cincinnati found that advancements in technology within classrooms had been beneficial to teachers, with 92% of respondents stating EdTech has had a major impact on how students learn and interact with each other. Research by Harris Interactive & Online Universities.com also found that 86% of teachers think that the use of EdTech is essential, with 92% stating they would like to see the use increased.
With such support and high praise from educators across the globe it’s easy to see why the EdTech industry is very much the talk of the town right now. The educational, time and cost benefits that can be gained from implementing even the smallest of technological changes within the classroom are vast. These benefits can be seen on a multitude of educational forums and social sites since the start of more home based learning due to Covid-19, with many teachers sharing new ways to make distance learning fun and showcasing their results.
The future of learning is technology based and we would be remiss not to embrace this exciting industry and learn with it. The educational possibilities that properly implemented EdTech makes available in classrooms across the globe is inspiring, especially when both educators and students alike are driving those possibilities.
What are your thoughts on technology use in the classroom?