We are used to the idea of using technology in education. It helps us access learning materials and carry out online research. However, educational technology, also called edtech, is more than a tool to find information. It has grown to become a unique phenomenon that responds to social circumstances. In this article, we will examine the potential of edtech to meet social demands.
What Is the Role of Educational Technology?
Technology is everywhere. It has already transformed our homes and workplace. But what about education? Today, the global expenditure on digitalization is only 3.6% in the education sector. It means that people have yet to discover the full potential of technology to enhance learning and teaching. However, projections are rather inspiring. The educational technology sphere is likely to get significant investment in the next 5 years.
What makes edtech a buzzword in the education sector? Many people believe that educational technology is the only tool that can prepare people for 21st-century careers. Indeed, edtech allows people to keep pace with the rapid advancement of technology. It shows us the different sides and features it has to offer. This preparation empowers people in their decision-making.
Edtech tools and approaches evolve education. They increase its productivity and efficiency, but that is only what we see on the surface. Leveraging educational technology helps to develop a special learning mindset that promotes growth and progress. In the long run, it benefits society in a number of different ways, including:
- better learning outcomes;
- increased retention rates;
- better teaching methods and approaches;
- reduced cost of education;
- equal access to quality education.
How to Make Most of Educational Technology?
Using technology for the sake of using technology is, just like it sounds, nonsense. The success of educational technology is not in its blind promotion. It is all about innovation and the search for effective practices that can serve the needs of society. It also involves research and evaluation of learning methods based on practical evidence.
Edtech can only be effective if approached with a clear vision and strategy. Its ideological side is as important as the practical one. It affects the essence and value of the educational process. For example, in the article “The Rise of Educational Technology as a Sociocultural and Ideological Phenomenon,” George Veletsianos and Rolin Moe discuss leveraging technology in education in relation to market and government supervision.
As education gets more support from the free market, it creates more space for innovation and development. This suggests viewing education as a product. A market economy helps it to develop and improve its quality thanks to competition. Additionally, these circumstances will also influence its cost, making education more affordable. Yet, this is possible only if the government limits its control over educational institutions in terms of tuition, accreditation, etc.
However, market-oriented funding is not without its flaws. One of the biggest issues is that it does not offer protection of socially relevant programs. Therefore, it is vital to preserve the best features of traditional education and enhance them with advanced edtech tools. This requires the joint effort of developers, researchers, educators, industry stakeholders, and, of course, students.
How Does Educational Technology Help to Meet Social Demands?
Now that we know the benefits of educational technology, it is crucial to understand what features of edtech help to achieve them. There are four main components that make educational technology effective. These are a rich learning environment, affordability, personalization, and automatization.
Rich Educational Environment
Edtech has the most evident impact on the educational environment. It benefits everyone involved in it. Teachers and administration get countless resources, planning help, and assessment tools. The advantages for students are even more diverse, from the availability of a research paper writing service like EssayService to the possibility of self-paced learning. For them, educational technology:
- provides tools for collaboration;
- connects them with their teachers and classmates;
- diversifies learning environment;
- creates materials for people of different learning styles;
- magnifies engagement;
- ensures flexibility and diversity.
Edtech inspires learner-driven exploration and develops the unique capabilities and traits of each student. It helps learners to think, evaluate information, and seek educational opportunities.
Educational technology makes the whole learning and teaching process more automated. It becomes easier to share and deliver knowledge to students. Edtech can serve thousands of learners at a time without class size or resource limitations. Add to it automated testing and recorded lectures, and the cost of education becomes significantly lower or even free.
An example of educational automatization is massive open online courses (MOOCs). Platforms like EdX, Khan Academy, Coursera, Canvas, Udemy, and many others offer affordable online education and career development. Many of their programs are created in collaboration with leading colleges and universities. They help learners to earn credits and entire degrees in a comfortable online format.
Educational technology becomes a solution that allows people to gain substantial knowledge without large financial investments. This feature is especially appealing to people. For example, according to the PISA assessment, Khan Academy has seen a 250 percent increase in traffic in 2019. Today education requires technological support even more due to the pandemic.
Efforts to automatize education are aimed to provide training to a large number of people. Yet, making educational content available is only half of the task. To make sure it is effective, people need quality instruction. This is what provokes debate. Can online courses offer the same quality of education as traditional institutions? The question remains open.
Automatization of content delivery does not mean a lack of personalization. Edtech provides an ample choice of learning materials and individual programs. They are based on detailed learning analytics which allows tailoring the educational process to the needs of each particular student. Such a format is more comfortable because courses have a narrow and specific focus on relevant learning objectives.
Besides, edtech makes learning more flexible. It supports asynchronous teaching and learning. Students can develop their own schedule of study sessions and balance learning with work and family time. Educational technology fosters self-regulation and the ability to guide one’s own learning process. For instance, students can seek extra resources or browse NoCramming for essay service review and rating before delegating some tasks if they find themselves struggling with a certain subject. It motivates people to be self-directed learners. In the long run, they become life-long learners who continue their education throughout life without outside help or guidance.
Getting formal education is expensive, especially in post-secondary institutions. According to FRED, student loans in the US reached the point of $1.7 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2020. As student debt grows each year, more and more people start to question the assertion that higher education is worth its cost.
The response to this problem is the emergence of MOOCs and online degrees. Today students can get higher education without the need to invest a lot of money with no granted financial returns. They can spend less on tuition and get an online alternative to traditional education.
Technologies are making it easier to spread information and create new educational content. This can potentially eliminate inequality in access to quality education. An unfavorable social background will no longer be an obstacle for those who want to learn. With free courses, anyone can learn from the best lecturers. All that is necessary to access materials is a smartphone or internet connection. This is a significant step toward equality in access to education as anyone can enroll and have a chance to improve skills.
To Sum Up
Today, we can notice a rapid growth of edtech. This trend helps educational systems to keep pace with technological development. Yet, the implementation and use of edtech require teachers, administration, developers, researchers, and students to work together and determine effective strategies. A balanced introduction of edtech learning opportunities will help to respond to the social challenges and demands of the 21st century.