Remote working and remote education are the two topics at the forefront of public discourse right now, along with the obvious candidate, healthcare. While no one is in the position to predict how the exact future will look like, one thing is sure, remote working & learning are both going to be the areas where probably maximum focus will be in the coming future. It seems so far that the virus is going to stay here, although its effects may diminish. And hence, the need for social distancing is going to remain to a great extent. And therefore, remote working and education are going to stay here.
It’s not that the focus on EdTech is the result of Covid19. A lot of people and organizations were using EdTech for a broad spectrum of services, including for public education to professional upskilling efforts. For example, the Georgia Vision Project, where we have partnered to provide a wide array of technology services, has already rolled out virtual classes, and over 21000 students benefitted with it through its Spark initiative. On the other hand, MOOC platforms like Coursera, EdX, Khan Academy, and Udemy have already become an integral part of professional studies. Another EdTech platform where we have been involved is Achieve3000, which has been enabling remote learning for over 20 years now.
Technology had already entered into classrooms via smart boards and smart devices, and into the administrative offices through school management applications.
But despite the spread, all this was complementary. The core of the education still meant going to classrooms in person. Remote learning was never a primary choice. It was either in addition to what was being taught in the classes, or for upskilling. Some also looked at it as a cost-saving measure. It was useful in situations where the infrastructures and teachers were not available or accessible. Now, it has changed. It is now the only mode of education. While we will go back to traditional ways of learning at least partially once the effects of Coronavirus start to subside, but the current experience is irrevocably going to change the face of education. The new phase will be powered by technology, and we will discuss a few facets of these changes from the technology perspective.
The collaboration will be a crucial ingredient.
The second issue with the current EdTech eco-system is that it is too passive and reactive. On the one hand, it provides flexibility to the students, but it doesn’t propel them towards better learning. It also has a very primitive manner of evaluation, and there are minimal ways in which the feedback is given to the students. The lack of immediate feedback and corrective action leads to an inferior experience. Even with live classes through video conferencing applications, there is an attention deficit since the teacher cannot pay attention to everybody. This situation means there is a scope of seamless, real-time collaborative features that will allow for a smooth, yet non-intrusive features that make the learning collaborative.
Engagement Is Equally Crucial
Another massive issue from the students’ side is that of engagement. The lack of physical presence leads to attention deficit, which in turn leads to a lack of participation. The problem is more profound for younger children. However, there are already a lot of innovations happening in this space with the help of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Holographic projections. For example, Integem is using Holographic technologies to create immersive experiences, which can enhance learning outcomes. Integrating such creative and innovative advances is going to provide EdTech companies with better acceptance from the customers.
Another aspect of this immersive experience is personalization. The challenge is to personalize the experience where students can progress in their unique ways and at their speed. And yet, there should be a coherent collective progress. While Artificial Intelligence has enabled such personalization to an extent, it is still a long way to go.
The Sector Outlook
However, beyond what happens with how EdTech is delivered, the critical question on everyone’s mind is what will occur from the business perspective. Q1 of 2020 provided a very robust outlook for growth for the EdTech sector. The quarter alone saw a $3B investment, which is 10% of the total expenditure of the entire last decade.
Source: Holon IQ
Of course, this picture will change as the impact of Covid19 financially and on the workforce becomes more apparent. Overall, the workforce is expected to reduce in both education as well as the EdTech sector. The trend is in line with other industries where outsourcing and contingent workforce is going to increase to deliver the promise of the sector. As technology will be the real differentiator, so will the choice of partners to develop and provide that technology.
But despite this impact, the global investments in EdTech are expected to triple over the next decade. And that’s because no matter what happens post Covid19, online education, remote learning, and EdTech are going to play a crucial part in how training will be delivered in the coming years. The opportunities lie in creating solutions that are affordable and impactful, which enables education to reach effectively across the world. Innovation is the key, and so will be the execution, as the world gears for a new dawn.
Want more insights on how the EdTech scenario will play out, and how can you be on the forefront? Get in touch today for a free consultation.