As one of the oldest industries in the world, the education sector is often regarded as one rooted in tradition; faith is placed strongly in tried and tested methods of teaching and learning. However, technological developments within the past decade have pushed the industry into its’ most transformative state yet.
Edtech has been on the rise between 2010 – 2019, but the arrival of the COVID19 pandemic has since supercharged the growth of the edtech industry.
- According to HolonIQ, the edtech industry is growing at 16.3% and will continue to grow at 2.5x from 2019 to 2025, reaching a global expenditure of USD404b in total.1
- Investments in edtech within our home region of Southeast Asia has seen nearly USD480b in venture capital over the last five years.2
While we know that the education sector has been racing to adopt newer methods and solutions, why is there such an urgency to adopt these solutions so quickly and what is the effect of edtech on how we teach and learn?
Attitudes towards learning are changing
“The school of today hardly fits with digital natives. Its organization, its management, the pedagogy, the evaluation as it is carried out, as well as the relationship it establishes between students, teachers, and knowledge – they are at odds with the new students.”
-Bernard Cornu, UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education3
Traditional learning systems operate based on hierarchical and structured learning, where teachers play a central role in disseminating information and knowledge. However, growing up with the internet has hugely impacted the way digital natives consume and access information. Information is now disseminated in networks, with several paths to arrive at a point of information. A students’ access to information is no longer bound by location, schedules and resources. With students’ now having unlimited access to information and unlimited ways to understand information, the teachers’ roles switch to being the mediator and interpreter between points of information and applicable knowledge or wisdom. With a smartphone in hand, educators now need to accommodate the students’ propensity to learn “when I want, where I want”.
This is where edtech comes in.
Edtech transforms learning environments to accommodate students’ new attitudes to learning
- Enabling 24/7 access to school
The advent of connected classrooms through the usage of IoT and open access to learning management systems (LMS) allows students to have full access to the digital classroom wherever they are; thus, fulfilling students’ new propensity to learn “when I want, where I want”. Development of edtech apps and platforms opens access and also brings down barriers in communication between students and teachers, providing guidance and resources whenever required and therefore transforms the learning experience into an “anytime, anywhere” environment
- Creating personalized learning experiences
Opening up access to learning materials allow for consumption which is best suited to each individual students’ preference and capability to learn. By breaking traditional classroom settings with teachers employing the same teaching method to all students, edtech creates avenues for multiple formats of education that can accommodate different interests, skills and strengths.
- Learning through collaboration and creativity
While edtech plays a role in delivering learning materials that can be consumed in students’ own time, it also enables innovation within classroom time. Features that allow gamification and interactivity (such as quizzes, chat and video functions, etc) help foster an environment of collaboration, rather than learning in siloes. Learning platforms also have features which remove barriers to communication, such as direct and on-demand access to teachers for immediate queries and encourages openness.
In short, from a students’ point of view, edtech plays a vital role in delivering a learning experience that is friendlier to individual capabilities, while creating an environment where students are able to consume knowledge in ways that are much better suited to their digital nativity.
Edtech supports teachers’ new roles in becoming mediators of knowledge
While newer attitudes to learning are leaning towards openness, creativity and collaboration, the application of knowledge still requires an element of structure and security. Thus, the role of teachers now requires to strike a balance in fostering collaborative learning while helping students interpret information in an organized and realistic manner.
Thus, from the teacher’s point of view, edtech plays a role in finding that needed balance and structure while accommodating newer attitudes of collaborative, open learning.
- Eliminating guesswork in understanding student capabilities
Through digital classrooms, teachers now have access to real-time data and assessments for individual students’ progress and in turn, helps quickly identify strengths and weaknesses within the classroom. In turn, edtech allows teachers act much faster and in more targeted manners in addressing individual student needs, further enabling personalized approaches to learning.
- Automating admin to leave more time for the real teaching process
Many members of teaching bodies might attest to how much time is taken up by administrative tasks. The integration of AI into LMS automates several tasks such as grading, tracking assignments and attendance monitoring. Through the automation of specific tasks using effective forms of edtech, teachers are then more available for interactions with students and have better bandwidth for developing more effective teaching materials.
While transforming education may seem like a daunting task, especially in a sector so rooted in tradition, the advent of edtech evidently opens up huge possibilities and opportunities. In the era of digitalization, edtech has become an unmatched and valuable tool for both educators and students in creating learning environments built on collaboration, accessibility and creative exchange which, in turn, transforms the future of education.
 Holon IQ, Sizing the Global Edtech Market 2021 https://www.holoniq.com/notes/sizing-the-global-edtech-market/
 Holon IQ, Southeast Asia Edtech 50 2020 https://www.holoniq.com/notes/holoniq-southeast-asia-edtech-50/
 Cornu, B. (2011). Digital natives: How do they learn? How to teach them. UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education: Moscow, Russia, 52, 2-11.