The Surge – and Growing Pains – of Digital Education
Edtech isn’t new. Though it’s undeniably more relevant than ever, it’s actually been on the rise for decades; thanks in part to continued global health challenges.
EU-startups explains, “The H1N1 pandemic drove the growth of edtech in Mexico in 2009, as SARS did in China in 2003, setting the pattern for change.” Adoption rates saw another major spike in 2020. “That the global edtech market grew 22% in Q1 of 2020 is no surprise,” they continue, “but with a buoyant 19.9% CAGR forecast through 2027, that growth is here to stay.”
The question now is how to turn edtech’s growing pains into learning opportunities.
Create more complete learning management systems.
The surging demand for edtech has created something of a gold rush among software developers. What we need are educational solutions that focus on holistically expanding young minds, not just corporate balance sheets.
With thousands of learning management tools to choose from, it can also be difficult for schools to zero in on the perfect platform. Even when they do make a decision, the proliferation of incomplete platforms can put them at a disadvantage.
At present, there’s no uniform protocol for edtech providers. Some offer little more than basic video conferencing features.
Until this fragmented industry evolves beyond these early stages, administrators can focus on selecting solutions that use data aggregation and adaptive learning tech. They’re the best resources available to filter internet content at large.
The goal is to give students inclusive access to educational content that’s been vetted and proven safe (not just turn them loose onto the internet). The platform should also support diverse class time configurations including, hybrid or blended environments, flipped classroom models, as well as synchronous and asynchronous learning activities.
By supporting only the more reputable options, it raises the bar for LMS competitors to level up or fade out.
Address teacher burnout and democratize access.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic rattled education, global teacher shortages were impacting schools systems. Now, UNESCO estimates the world’s teacher shortfall has risen to nearly 69 million.
The big reason: burnout.
- According to one teacher burnout assessment, “65% of teachers responding identified signs they were burning out in their jobs. 85% were diagnosed as working ‘unsustainably’ .. with significantly increased risks to their health as a result.”
With quality teachers in short supply, administrators are looking to learning platforms to help in two ways:
- By connecting students with educators and tutors in other locales, particularly those in under-resourced or underserved communities.
- Better supporting teachers in their day-to-day by automating a portion of their workloads (grading, attendance, etc.) so they can focus on higher level teaching tasks.
Optimize training and support suites to help students upskill.
Though automation may have a place in streamlining teacher tasks, it’s also the very thing educators need to prepare students for.
There’s some conjecture about whether the number of jobs will increase or decrease as automation takes hold. The World Economic Forum, for example, predicts automation will result in a net increase of 58 million jobs. Other reports predict some 50% of all work could be automated by the year 2055.
In either case, the future of work is changing.
Educators can use LMS systems to help learners quickly re-skill or upskill in real-time by using the technology to filter for and push specialized training content.
But before they can effectively maximize a new platform’s capacity, teachers themselves need to be trained and debriefed on its capabilities.
With a focus on better teacher training tools and support systems, these edtech solutions can better address resistance to change and more organically integrate into the classroom.
Challenges are nothing new to teachers. With an opportunity mindset and a bit of motivation to try something new, they can help leverage quality learning management systems to help students excel.