Technology has effectively made its foray into education and is busy transforming classrooms and empowering learners. Hence, it’s not surprising that it has become a hot topic. Around $4 billion have been proposed by the Obama Administration in order to wire US schools. In the meantime, over $600 million in venture capital were invested in EdTech in 2014, which was a 32 per cent rise over 2013.
Adopting Technology In The Classroom
Educators have also gladly accepted and adopted technology, almost universally. A new study reveals that 96 per cent of educators believe that the use of technology is significantly impacting the classroom. Even though there is widespread acceptance and support from teachers, there are both critics and advocates regarding technology in the classroom.
Can EdTech Help Us?
One one side of the debate, there are supporters of of EdTech who believe technology is about to improve and transformed the education scenario, just like it has modified most other aspects of the economy. Education is bound to go through a technology revolution. Proponents of technology in education believe new innovations and efficiencies will be brought by private capital and the market to K-12 as well as post-secondary education systems. This will help in dealing with changing demographics and declining budgets. Adopting technology to improve education is a necessity for them.
Is EdTech A Distraction?
On the other hand, there are people who are less enthusiastic about what educational technology can do for students and teachers. The critic of EdTech believe that education is essentially a different type of establishment and market force cannot influence the sectors like other segments in the economy. They argue that energy we are spending in implementing EdTech shifts focus away from the real issues like limiting class sizes, investing in educators and talk about the huge socio-economic disparity. They consider supporting excellent teaching practices and investing in EdTech as opposing sides. Moreover, security and privacy has also become a serious concern to stop and at least re-think about adopting technology in our classrooms.
Focusing On Outcomes
However, the main point which is missing from this discussion is education outcomes, which is perhaps the most important objective in public education. It does not matter whether we focus on social mobility for boosting economic competitiveness; improving infrastructure; helping gifted and special needs students; or reducing the achievement gap, the most important factor to analyse the importance of technology in education is the academic outcome and achievement of our students.
We need to understand that technology is not a magic pill, it only helps us in boosting outcomes. Recognising the correct role for EdTech is not the job of the private sector alone. We must keep aside perception and politics and focus on motivating our educators to collaborate with entrepreneurs to improve teaching and learning. Teachers can actually help EdTech innovators and entrepreneurs to better understand the needs of education and develop suitable tools and solutions.
The Bottom Line
We are in urgent need of district leaders and educators who will take the initiative to experiment with different EdTech tools and test solutions. We also need investors and developers to take responsibility and be accountable for the impact of technology in education.
As the wheels are in motions and new collaborations are taking place, it seems there is some good news. We must me encouraged by the potential of EdTech and look forward to the desired impact of technology on our educators and learners.
What do you think? Feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts with us and add to the discussion.
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