Technology has effectively infiltrated every industry, and education is no exception. Laptops and tablet computers have become essential tools for students in classrooms; online learning through digital education platforms is not only widely accessible but widely accepted by employers around the country. This is the era of EdTech, or education technology, and it is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs.
EdTech is a broad industry that encompasses every application of technology within education. From a child using a computer game to learn math to entire university degree programs that take place over the web, every instance of tech-assisted learning falls under the umbrella of EdTech. After reviewing the substantial disruption technology provided other industries, including the media, marketing, and more, it is obvious that the further development of EdTech will benefit educators and entrepreneurs alike.
EdTech in Schools
Despite the near-ubiquity of technology within university settings, as yet technology remains remarkably absent in K-12 classrooms. Though students might take a computer basics class once or twice during their early educations, few school curricula facilitate the use of various technologies in learning, largely due to low funding and tight budgets.
Still, many teachers are eager for opportunities to use emerging EdTech. One of the most popular EdTech developments is gamification, which translates essential educational lessons into a fun and engaging game for students. By transforming learning from a grueling process to a seemingly effortless form of entertainment, teachers feel less pressure and push-back from students. Plus, a significant number of gamified EdTech is free or cheap to download online, including education games for math (e.g. KnowRe) and foreign language (DuoLingo). EdTech developers have even gamified classroom behavior with games such as ClassDojo, which rewards positive behavior with instant, in-game feedback. Because gamification can be available on all sorts of devices inside and outside the classroom, it is an ideal example of the power and flexibility of EdTech; however, most importantly, EdTech can be affordable.
Despite increases in funding for education, U.S. math and reading scores have stagnated since the 1970s. Many experts believe the reason for this is the extreme cost of maintaining schools: The buildings, the teachers, and tools like whiteboards and pencils consume about 85 percent of funding allocated to education. This presents entrepreneurs with the opportunity to revolutionize education delivery with technological innovations – but first those innovations must be developed.
Though EdTech has its roots in a Stanford University experiment on teaching math through computer programs, there is relatively little active study on the impact of technology on academic performance. Though a handful of universities have launched degree programs in the field of education technology, the research and development of EdTech is only just beginning.
On one hand, that means entrepreneurs have few experienced EdTech developers to employ in profitable endeavors; on the other hand, it means the market is not yet saturated with EdTech options, so smart, fast-moving entrepreneurs can still get in on the ground floor of this quickly expanding industry.
Though gamification is popular today, what educators are most clamoring for are better platforms for tech-abetted education. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have exploded in popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons, including their low cost, schedule flexibility, and self-guided nature.
For-profit MOOCs are appearing around the web and gaining followers faster than many social networks. In many cases, MOOCs are destabilizing traditional methods of education, especially community colleges, which are now scrambling to advance technologically. Entrepreneurs can join either side of the fight to find profits.
The Future of EdTech
Soon enough, EdTech developers will begin manipulating futuristic technologies for use in the classroom. Students will use virtual reality to explore new places and learn new concepts; they will use robotics to obtain 21st-century skills like programming; they will organize their schoolwork through online platforms, ditching three-ring binders entirely.
There is no chance that education will become less affiliated with technology. The benefits of using technology are too great: Tech increases opportunities to learn, boost enjoyment of various subjects, and cuts costs in the long-run. Though schools might have been slow to adopt technology, the changing landscape of the web is forcing traditional institutions to adapt or die, which means the EdTech industry is primed to explode.