Harnassing Edtech’s Disruptive Power
It’s time to shake things up in education, and edtech can disrupt traditional learning at every level, from early childhood to university level instruction.
We’ve been saying that for years, so how much disruption has edtech created?
More than nifty gadgets and tools
The first place to look for innovative disruption is in classrooms harboring the latest tech devices. Tablets, interactive robots, and digital voice assistants make up part of the edtech landscape. So do VR goggles, 3D printers, and a host of educational software and apps.
While you might expect to find these devices and programs in STEM classes, where disruption is the order the day, many classes also incorporate the same technology and achieve similar results. The reason is simple: technology engages students in interactive learning in ways that other strategies don’t.
Lectures don’t help students learn. Students must engage with content in hands-on environments where they can practice what they are learning, make adjustments, and hone their skills. Students who learn actively are more likely to internalize and remember what they’ve learned.
Technology facilitates the authentic engagement necessary for deep learning in ways that reading a textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapter will never produce. When students move beyond the novelty that technology brings, and they discover new ways to use edtech as a tool, they are more likely to immerse themselves in study.
MOOCs reach more learners
University class sizes of more than a few hundred once inspired awe; now university classes can increase their class sizes to thousands because of MOOCs, Massive Open Online Classes. Harvard, MIT, and even the University of Oxford offer public MOOCs.
Going off to university isn’t for everyone because of time, cost, and geographical constraints.
Like many institutions of higher learning, University of Oxford MOOC allows students to audit courses for free. In most courses, students can purchase certificates recognizing satisfactory course completion.
The benefits of MOOCs are many. Students have free access to university studies anywhere in the world. More importantly, online classes inspire curiosity and instill a love for learning for adults at any age.
Edtech makes diversification easier
Teachers aren’t the only ones who can provide classroom instruction.
The vast selection of tutoring software available for every subject area makes individualized instruction easier to provide than ever before. Teachers can provide just-in-time help for students who need a concept re-taught, offer more skills practice, or encourage deep learning, all with a few keystrokes.
The right edtech solution in a classroom can free up the teacher to spend more time instructing students and following up, but it won’t replace a teacher. Skilled teachers recognize that their roles are fluid. They know when to be the “guide on the side” or the “sage on a stage.”
To make the most of edtech disruption, administrators must support the teachers willing to push the envelope when incorporating edtech, helping them integrate technology rather than replace their instruction with it. They must also nudge reluctant teachers into using the technology provided. Teachers need ample time to practice with new software and acclimate students to its use.
Disruption doesn’t have to wait. The time is ripe to disrupt and innovate. Schools and higher education institutions should continue looking for ways to disrupt learning now, and students should demand it.