Innovations in IT: Education Edition
Since the dawn of the information age, we’ve witnessed exponential progress in digital technologies. These technologies have reshaped our lives and redefined our realities. But we are not only living differently, we are teaching differently too.
The global EdTech industry is projected to grow from a $125.3 billion industry in 2022 to $232.9 billion by 2027. This growth is driven by EdTech innovations which have the power to change the way we educate students forever.
However, the change is incremental. According to Shantani Sinha, VP of Google for Education, “the future of education will be shaped by a complex, nuanced process rather than a single wave of change.” Nevertheless, the shifting tides can be witnessed today.
Here’s an examination of IT innovations in education and the learning environments which spur them.
Classrooms Go Smart
COVID has not only revolutionized the world of work, but also the landscape of learning. Pedagogy – steeped in images of chalk and pencils – is going digital. EdTech innovations were catalyzed by the new and immediate demands of educators and students as COVID required remote learning. And like the office, the classroom isn’t turning backwards.
A UNESCO report, titled Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education, claims this: “[W]e need to transform education. Classrooms are essential, but they need to be constructed and experienced differently. Education must build skills needed in 21st century workplaces, taking into account the changing nature of work.”
Smart Classrooms are a re-imagining of the sacred institution of learning for the modern age.
Digital transformation is a budget focus across the various IT verticals, but education has specific and unique needs from these services. For instance, collaboration is a top concern. Collaboration is essential to the learning process and can be facilitated by well-designed EdTech.
However, you need the infrastructure to operate powerful software and seamlessly access cloud-based applications. This is why comprehensive digital transformation is necessary, but realistically won’t happen all at once.
The Path to Virtualization in the Classroom
IT Innovations in education are necessary. Turning the classroom or the lecture hall into a virtualized environment requires both physical and digital products. Here’s what educators and administrators are seeking to fulfill their teaching goals:
- Learning mediated by physical tools like laptops or tablets and powered by digital workspaces. They want mobile technology, nothing plugged into a wall.
- Software to support teachers in assigning and managing assignments, administering and grading assessments, and taking attendance in distant learning settings.
- EdTech that enables remote collaboration and transforms in-classroom experiences.
- IT infrastructure to back their tools: high-speed internet, powerful servers, and endpoint protection.
The IT Innovations Powering Pedagogy
IT holds new and unseen opportunities to improve the way people teach. As labor becomes more and more intertwined with the tech that enables it, education is adapting to accommodate these emerging professional skills.
Education is pivoting toward the future by leveraging applications that encourage students to create and engage with content, like videos and podcasts, or take game-based assessments. Through inventive cloud-based applications like these, learning is becoming more engaging and relevant.
And there’s benefits for teachers too.
The obvious is that it makes teaching more lightweight, in every sense of the word. Technology lightens the administrative load on teachers and professors, as well the physical load. No longer do they need to lug around heavy stacks of papers and books – everything resides in the cloud. This is an overlooked selling point with huge impact on educators day-to-day.
But teachers need guidance. Many educators struggle with technology and internet literacy themselves. Librarians can help, but IT teams are uniquely positioned to offer deployment and training services for educators.
Jennifer Hall, educational technology specialist for Atlanta Public Schools, had this to say:
“Teachers who were not as tech-savvy had to figure out different ways to do tasks they would normally do with paper and pencil. A lot of teachers are still trying to incorporate those things.”
IT should not only just sell schools and universities the technologies they need, but also consider how they can support educators in the implementation of their investments.
Ultimately, IT businesses should help these customers navigate the marketplace in selecting smart devices, software, and services they need to maximize teaching, including recommending cutting-edge EdTech they may have never heard of.
Examples of IT Innovations in Education
So what IT innovations in education are leading the charge and fulfilling the steps on path to virtualization, exactly? Here are a few.
Learning management platforms simplify the process of creating, disseminating, and evaluating lessons. These are nothing new and have been used in for years in higher education, which has moved away from textbooks and toward pdfs. Blackboard, for example, was launched in the late 90s; however, the systems capabilities are much more advanced now. The goal of these platforms is to not only simplify teaching, but to also empower students at various levels of learning. For schools interested in digital transformation, this is a comprehensive first step.
Internet safety is a top concern for schools and universities, especially for the K-12 students who are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. For remote learners and in-class activities, Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) is an innovative solution. RBI host browsing a remote server, rather than directly on a device, allowing educators and students to circumvent malicious sites and data exposure.
Meanwhile, AI promises to automate time-consuming tasks, giving educators more time to focus on the one-on-one interactions. AI generated assignments, personalized to students’ individual needs, will be a slam dunk for teachers everywhere. And currently, machine learning models are predicating enrollment figures, identifying high risk students, and attracting ideal students for their institution(s). As more data is collected, developers will have information to drive the production of unprecedented EdTech products.
Cloud based applications are another primary example of where innovations in EdTech are happening.
Popular cloud-based applications include:
- Communication tools: Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams
- Gamifying education: Kahoot, Minecraft for Education, Gimkit,
- Digital whiteboard: Miro
- Digital bulletin board: Padlet
- Google for Education products, like Google Classroom
- Creative expression and art: Abode Creative Cloud and Canva
- Video discussion tool: Flipgrid
- Interactive slide decks and assessments: Pear Deck and Nearpod
- Digital flashcards: Quizlet
- Content Organization: Wakelet
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