Technology and education have been the prototypical pairing for a while. Every technological innovation has made its way into education. From calculators to computers, to EdTech solutions, technology has incorporated itself into the education system slowly, and surely, over time. This immersion took on a steady, gradual path until circumstances beyond any individual control forced technology to be completely immersed with education. The Covid-19 pandemic, and how lockdowns and safety protocols meant that traditional learning systems could not operate, paving the way for a complete immersion in an e-learning platform and e-learning online.
The majority of individuals and parties involved in education and technology agree that the combination of the two -via EdTech solutions- is beneficial for the overall learning support and final product.
However, it was when the extreme application of technology immersion with education became a reality, that concerns were raised, and doubts arose. There is a consensus that education immersed with technology is the future, but to what extent, and at what cost? Should education be completely immersed with technology? Or should we establish a beneficial outcome that balances between the two?
The Role Technology Can Play in Education
EdTech solutions have been beneficial and pivotal for delivering educational services when they mattered most. For instance, we saw how during the Covid-19 pandemic, e-learning platforms stepped in and provided learning support, and sustainability for the entire education system across the world. With e-learning tools and an e-learning platform, students weren’t in real jeopardy of not receiving any sort of education.
However, EdTech solutions have been more than just a substitute teacher for traditional education. They have also complimented traditional education, and in instances enhanced it dramatically.
Personalized learning is a method of learning that offers custom programs that fit the student’s needs, replacing traditional textbooks. Artificial intelligence is replacing traditional tutoring.
For instance, when considering education and learning, the principle of the Desired Difficulty comes to mind. A Harvard Business Review explains this principle by stating that students learn best when challenged, not so much that they get frustrated and not so little that they are bored. Instead, a balance between the two, known as the “Goldilocks Spot.”
Reaching the Goldilocks Spot means that we motivate students to pay attention and process as much as they can, therefore enhancing the amount of education. However, reaching such a precise point with our educational content can be difficult. With so many variables, how can one create content that satisfies the Goldilocks Spot for so many students? Technology can be used to collect data and performance metrics. Then you can rely on that data to craft content.
Another EdTech solution would be peer-to-peer learning, where students gather online, in groups, for additional learning support. Peer-to-peer learning platforms offer a unique space where students can gather beyond school hours and receive learning support through an e-learning platform like Peer Square. Active learning exercises such as these have proven repeatedly to be an effective way to learn, in part because it induces the principle of Desired Difficulty.
Today, the best e-learning platform is considered to be peer-to-peer learning platforms because of not only the educational aspect but the social one as well. Peer-to-peer learning provides an educational product but also allows for social networking, growth, and relationship building. Peer Square is a prime example of this trinity between technology, education, and relationships. A blueprint of EdTech solutions that need to be applied more often across other e-learning platforms.
Areas of Improvement
Of course, there are areas EdTech solutions that need improvement. In fact, a certain negative aspect of technology is the fact that not enough thought is given to the social, or human, aspect of education. According to a research article by Sciendo and the University of Zayed in the UAE, one-way technology negatively changed education through isolation.
This solidifies peer-to-peer learning platforms like Peer Square are essential. Peer Square has succeeded in establishing a collaborative classroom environment on its e-learning platform and keeping the sense of collectivism through peer-to-peer learning support.
Peer Square also combats what the study states as a dehumanizing effect of technology, which argues that the over-reliance on technology from all parties, the teacher and the students, means less time to interact or impact with one another and develop sound relationships.
Private Versus Public Sector
It is obvious that technology immersed in education opens up huge opportunities to use science for learning support and learning in new ways. However, we still need to take advantage of these opportunities by having clear learning outcomes, and measurable progress en route to achieving those outcomes. Also, there needs to be a shift to a focus on active learning, technological immersion, and peer-to-peer learning.
According to a report for the European University Association, the main goal and objective of the European Higher Education Area, for all 48 counties, is to make use of digital learning for enhancing traditional learning, and not have the former completely replace the latter. Right now, Germany's e-learning market is growing 8.5% every year, while the German economy is growing at around 1.9%.
But morer investment and devotion are needed from the government level.
The private sector is making up much of the ground lost by the public sector. Private start-ups and businesses like Peer Square are prime examples of that. HolonIQ states that the first half of 2020 was the second largest half-year for Global EdTech Venture Capital, reconfirming their expectations that a surplus of $87 billion will eventually be invested in EdTech over the next 10 years, tripling the amount invested in the prior decade.
The Future is Promising
Jason Palmer, partner at New Markets Venture Partners, a leading education-focused venture capital firm, states that “many top universities have committed to decade-long, multi-million dollar contracts and joint ventures with education online program managers in the core, critical academic areas.”
These agreements and partnerships, if carried out correctly, can enable universities to finally take that digital leap forward. A promising pattern and push towards the right direction.
Through steps, partnerships, joint ventures, and measures, we will be paving a way for technology and education to complement and complete each other, enhancing a holistic, yet safe, immersion of technology and education. Where we provide better education and future for our students, without sacrificing the history and traditions that have gotten us here today.