What is EdTech and Why Should It Matter to You?
Education Technology (also known as “EdTech”) refers to an area of technology devoted to the development and application of tools (including software, hardware, and processes) intended to promote education.
Although this developing field may sound like a specialized niche, its potential implications are far-reaching and affect many segments of the population. Read on to find out if you’re among those most likely to benefit from the advancement of EdTech, and how you can contribute to its growth.
For Educators and Educational Institutions…
Caleb Clark, educator and EdTech expert, summarizes the importance of EdTech this way: “Geeks can’t teach, and teachers can’t geek.” What exactly does he mean by that?
The great tech minds tasked with creating the data-driven processes and applications that facilitate learning may understand solution-implementation–but they can’t stand in for educators when it comes to disseminating knowledge.
Conversely, strong educators aren’t necessarily equipped or inclined to deal with all the technology available to them and develop ways to apply it to their discipline. They will be the first to tell you that there are enough challenges in their day-to-day work without our asking them to become IT experts, as well.
Services like Alma and Engrade provide one-stop solutions for teachers and schools, while illustrating just how far EdTech can take us. If developed and applied correctly, educational technology has the potential to become truly industry-changing for educators–streamlining time-consuming processes (like lesson planning, reporting, and record-keeping) and simplifying communication–with even farther-reaching implications for educational institutions themselves.
EdTech Magazine cites the capacity of this technology for providing institutions with “a very clear understanding of any number of points of reference — student progress, budget performance, alumni snapshots; the list of possibilities and insights truly is limitless.”
For this reason, the future of education relies on an ongoing dialogue between educators and educational institutions, and professionals in the tech world.
For Technologists and Designers…
For tech professionals, this means a growing and ongoing need for development in the area that is able to scale as evolving devices and technology multiply avenues for information delivery. And that’s a tall order in a landscape where these elements are developing almost more quickly than they can be understood and applied to the field of education.
Not surprisingly, the current rate of EdTech development is leaving gaps. The recent Software & Information Industry Association’s 2014 K-20 vision surveyrevealed a “high desire for more technology integration–and need for more support–at all educational levels.”
The annual survey, which polls nearly 1,000 educators across every tier of K-20 education, was released in June during the International Society for Technology in Education’s 2014 expo and indicated that “the ideal level of technology integration is significantly higher than current levels.” EdTech Magazine highlighted several findings from the report, including the following pain points:
- The majority of K-12 respondents do not feel “highly prepared” for online, summative assessments: 42 percent say they have adequate bandwidth, and 36 percent say they have enough devices and other hardware for students.
- Three-quarters of K-12 respondents say technology integration is highly important, but their current levels and ideal levels of integration do not align: Only 22 percent say their schools are already highly integrated.
These findings signal a need for technological and professional development on every level of EdTech, and the presence of unique career development opportunities.
For Career Seekers…
While a number of job-seekers wish to find work that is simultaneously fulfilling and profitable, the two don’t always seem to go hand in hand (just ask a teacher).
However, the dramatic increase of venture capital investment in Education Technology promises just that.
Forbes remarks, “Whereas teachers generally top out at around $80,000 (and only if they get masters/doctoral degrees), education entrepreneurs have shown that making money and doing good are not always misaligned.”
Whether you’re embarking on a new career or seeking career guidance, the promise of the growing educational technology field delivers enticing opportunities to apply your skills in an environment with true global impact.
For Everyone Else…
At the risk of over-evangelizing the importance of Education Technology, it can be said that the successful development of these tools will impact every aspect of our future. Accessible, effective solutions for superior education empower students and teachers to focus on the task of learning. They can do more with the resources they have, improving the quality of education available to young people around the globe, and better-equipping them for the future.
These are our imminent engineers, architects, and doctors–the leaders of social and political movements to come. Making sure they have the best means available in order to prepare them for these roles ensures a brighter future for all living creatures, and for the planet itself. The next generation faces no shortage of challenges–it’s our job to see that they face no shortage of support in order to overcome them.
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