There is a lot of discussion about how technology has the capacity to “disrupt” many practices that are inefficient or expensive in many ways. It is true; we have seen disruptions in many fields due to technology ranging from how we shop to how government services are provided. Now, we may be able to see how technology can disrupt the current models in education.
Advocates of reform have long sought how to incorporate technological breakthroughs to make education more effective. Some developments that have come from this include the growing popularity of massively open online courses (MOOCS). MOOCS are beginning to revolutionize higher education because they allow students to attend courses that are taught by professors with live video stream or recorded for later use. For many students and universities, this has helped lower the cost for of pursuing a degree.
But the trick has been how to incorporate technology into primary education to better teach important concepts like math and science in a more effective and tailored manner. It is well documented that the United States is trailing behind in many areas of achievement, especially math and science. Many educators are hoping that the use of technology can bridge that gap and put the U.S. back in the lead again.
Education technology, or Edtech, is a catch-all term that is generating a lot of buzz. These technologies range from anything like language learning software to apps that track progress on homework assignments and quizzes so that a teacher knows where to put more focus on. There is a lot of confidence by educators and industry leaders that Edtech has the capacity to tailor the educational experience to fit the needs of individual students. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, existing evidence on the impact of technology on student achievement is positive.
There are some signs that new tech products will soon enter primary school classrooms. First, there is a very high interest by many companies to develop tech products and services to be used by students and teachers. In 2012, about $600 million was invested into Edtech startups. Just in the second quarter of 2014, the Edtech industry raised just under $327 million in venture capital investments.
Part of the reason for increased interest and investment in Edtech is that the Common Core standards have created a single market that products can be sold to, rather than having to tailor a product to the educational standards of 50 different states. Moreover, baby boomers are retiring and are being replaced by millennials that prefer to utilize technology to teach their students.
This is a large and growing field, and it is only a matter of time before innovators find a way to truly transform the classroom experience in a positive way.