Future of Ed-Tech
How can technology help deliver high-quality education affordably, at scale?
Ed-Tech and online education will not “disrupt” education
- We need to distinguish between the “medium” (e.g. online/offline) and the “pedagogical approach” (e.g. instructional style). “Online” is only a medium and may enhance or be part of the future of the solution — but will not wholesale replace education
- Current MOOCs, for example, have failed because they are generally just platforms for delivering content — and they are not engaging nor personalized.
- Online lectures are often insufficient because many human feedback signals between teacher and learner are missing when online/ not in person
- Education is not a linear model of consumers consuming content — and online lectures miss out on several of those opportunities including serendipity
An interesting disparity was shared: while in K-12 in the US the largest disparity of spending might be 2:1 e.g. $15–20k spending/student/year at the high-end vs. $12k at the low, in higher education the disparity is more like 10:1 e.g. $100k/student/year at the high-end vs. $10k/student/year at the low-end. Those institutions already had challenges and Covid will accelerate those trends.
While institutions may shift and change, the needs for educators likely will not. Education will continue to be “consumed” at high-levels. In agriculture greater quality and efficiency ultimately led to a maximum plateau of demand and a decreasing percentage of the workforce necessary to meet that demand. Education, like healthcare, is not like that. Better quality and more accessible education will actually drive greater consumption and greater needs for human resources.
The role and needs of those educators may evolve from content creators and lecture deliverers — to new models of engagement, inspiration, mentorship, and leadership.
Optimizing for the “Best Education”, Not Necessarily Human-Free
The interesting take-away from this podcast and other reading on trends in ed-tech is not how technology will replace or disrupt education, but how it can be used collaboratively to deliver BEST in class education, affordably and at scale. Language learning, for example, at the Missionary Training Center in the Church of Latter Day Saints can equip young missionaries to be functional in a language in mere weeks…how do we scale such language training affordably?
Opportunity for Technology in Education is to Enhance and Scale
- Innovation in pedagogy and curricula rather than just content. Many institutions create great content but don’t have good, easy ways to scalably and with high quality, package and share. We should leverage and extract great content from where it is being generated, but focus our energies on what education should look like? How should instruction be designed, how best do individuals learn?
- There are opportunities for technology innovation for attempting to scale the in-person dynamics (e.g. how to communicate body language? how to keep students interested? how to understand where they are struggling and meet them where they are? could virtual reality help here?)
- We already know what great education looks like in the offline world and can work towards replicate many of those things online. However many things like engagement, 1–1 interaction, group projects, etc are still human powered and not easily scalable. How to deliver these affordably, with quality and scale? Perhaps we can redirect teachers and educators away from each recreating the same content and lectures and to better leverage their skills in more dynamic roles to facilitate, engage, 1–1 mentor, host group discussions, lead projects, etc.
- Peer-to-peer learning and interaction are important for engagement — even if content is created and disseminated globally — what can be done to assemble students/learners together where they live geographically in unique and creative ways?
If you have feedback or suggestions on other areas of explorations and the future of ed-tech, please share below!