By Anna Tavis, Latam Business School Faculty Member
If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.
John Dewey, philosopher and educational reformer
The Rise of Edtech
If investment dollars are any indication of a particular trend emerging or going away, we are beginning to track Edtech’s rising tide on the investors’ longer term horizon. In dollar terms, the educational marketplace is priced at a close to $4.5 to $5 trillion per year — added to the fact that education and learning technology sector contributes jobs and billions of dollars into the economy. As David Bainbridge, the founder of Knowledgemotion, writes in TechCrunch that it is possible that Edtech is the future Fintech in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution we are now going through. (https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/13/edtech-is-the-next-fintech/)
From foundational curricula to emotional intelligence and higher learning, education has begun redefining itself through the lens of technology. Technology is deconstructing the concept of a “classical” classroom education and the walls of the ivy league institutions are coming down as innovators and entrepreneurs develop new ways to access knowledge and train our brains. The business of education and development itself is being reimagined and there is much more to come.
Why Change is Slow
Clearly, there are reasons why the change in education has not been as disruptive as it might have been in other sectors. Resistance is coming from all corners of the educational establishment and cannot be explained away by generational gap or digital divide alone. There are traditional teachers, traditional administrators and traditional students who may insist that technology gadgets in the classroom might not improve learning. Additionally, there are academic procedures that are due for a revision. The rapid rise of the EdTech sector is telling us a much more optimistic story of change.
Even though some may argue that students today are no more than young consumers in the classroom and should be treated as such. Others may say that it is all about the ubiquity of digital technology and there is no opting out of it. Personally, I am convinced that technology in the classroom is helping us be better human learners and that is what will ultimately guarantee a sustained change. I am reminded of Amber Case’s TED Talk, “We Are All Cyborgs Now,” and the conclusion that “… it’s not the machines that are taking over. It’s that they’re helping us to be more human, helping us to connect with each other. “
The change that is happening in education is happening fast and yet it is moving reasonably slow. It is OK for Fintech to outpace education in disrupting finance’s current model. Edtech market commands a slower paced approach. Ed tech investors are telling us that the most interesting businesses to them are the ones that can work around the existing systems and processes rather than those looking to completely reinvent them” (Michael Jackson, an investor and former COO of Skype.) Investors, I argue, do get it right.
Endless Opportunities for EdTech
I see technology as an enabler in my own teaching. My students convene in a virtual classroom across different time zones and across vastly different cultural systems. The only complaint I hear from them is about how we need more and better technology, not less.
The changes we have seen so far are only the tip of the iceberg. The opportunities for Edtech are endless and as Bainbridge suggests “EdTech is poised to be the biggest and possibly (the) most profitable digitalized sector yet.”