How EdTech is transforming the classroom

Using EdTech to enhance learning experiences

With schoolchildren back in the classrooms, and students able to attend lectures once again, how has EdTech for schools and higher education supported learning during the pandemic? And if EdTech is the future of education, what does this mean for traditional learning methods?

  • 29 June 2022

EdTech and COVID-19

Before COVID-19 swept across the world forcing us to rethink our education models, Educational Technology (EdTech) was already a rapidly growing industry, with 2019 global investment up almost 14% on the previous year to a staggering £13.75bn ($18.66bn). But what is EdTech, and why is it so popular among teachers and students? Put simply: EdTech is an amalgamation of hardware, software, and learning disciplines, brought together to achieve the best outcomes for pupils, and alleviate the burden on teachers. The techniques and technologies involved are varied, but often include: video conferencing software, virtual reality tools, and online learning platforms.

When schools were closed due to the pandemic, much of the global focus was understandably on the facilitation of remote learning via EdTech. However, there are many other lessons to be learned about the value of EdTech to the education sector, both nationally and globally.

The future of learning

The beginning of national lockdowns saw educational institutions rushing to get their courses online so pupils and students could access learning materials remotely. Providing this access in a secure manner presents some challenges, as the materials need to be available via the pupils' or students' own devices, as well as those provided by the schools.

The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an organisation parented by Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), advises on a number of best practices to mitigate against users accidentally introducing malware to the remote learning resources via their devices, or accessing sensitive data they should not have permissions to view. Such practices include: the enforcement of two-factor authentication for administrator accounts; the enforcement of appropriate password policies; and setting up a single sign-on system, like LDAP, so users don't need to enter multiple credentials to access different resources.

Once security and access paths have been addressed, educational organisations are also faced with the challenge of making the right content available to the right people. This can sometimes involve uploading thousands of hours of lectures in video formats, thousands of pages of text, and numerous other resources. Data projects on this scale need to be conducted rigorously, with appropriate testing undertaken to ensure no information is lost or corrupted, as the impact on pupils or students unable to access the learning materials they need could be significant. Provisions should also be introduced to ensure that learning materials can continue to made available by educators to their pupils or students on an ongoing basis, ideally without the need for intervention by IT departments.

Extending the digital learning environment

Often, access to learning materials will not be enough to facilitate a pupil's or a student's complete learning experience. Enrolment on courses, and the processes that enable this, may be necessary to include on online learning platforms. Access to study groups, tutors, and automated assessment may also be valuable. Enabling users to track their progress, and awarding them appropriately upon completion of study milestones will provide a richer learning experience and promote success. This means that user profiles will need to go beyond simply permitting or denying access to learning materials.

Educators will also have requirements regarding online learning experiences. It will be necessary for them to monitor learners' progress, assess work submitted, provide critical feedback, and give awards. Tools that enable course and lesson planning, and appropriate dissemination will also be valuable as the digital learning environment continues to evolve.

As learners and educators increasingly use digital spaces for their academic pursuits, their expectations of these spaces will also grow. It will be important for educational organisations to ensure they keep up with learner demands, and continue to improve and refine the online learning experience, both in terms of the availability of content, and the supporting functionality that provides a complete learning experience.

If you work in the education sector and would like to find out how we can help ensure you are offering students, pupils, and educators the best online experiences, get in touch today, or call us on +44 (0) 8456 808 805.

EdTech is an amalgamation of hardware, software, and learning disciplines, brought together to achieve the best outcomes for pupils, and alleviate the burden on teachers.
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