The Changing Landscape of Ed Tech

August 14, 2020 • Shannon Flynn

When designed carefully and with intention, improved technology can completely transform how educators teach their students.

Right now, education is experiencing massive shifts as rapid advancements in technology — like the rapid proliferation of smart devices and the rise of AI and VR — are being adapted for use in schools.

Many of these new developments are impressive — and if leveraged correctly, could radically improve education. However, better ed tech doesn’t guarantee improved teaching. School staff will need to adapt in certain ways if they want to see ed tech reach its full transformative potential.

New Frontiers in Ed Tech

Big tech developments of the past few years are now beginning to be adapted to education. 

Personalized learning systems, powered by artificial intelligence and new data collection and analysis techniques, can track student progress and help teachers understand how each of their students learn. In some cases, these can even provide one-on-one support in classrooms where teachers can’t spend time tutoring every student.

Virtual and augmented reality systems use computer headsets or overlaid computer-generated imagery to help students learn. Some of these programs help teachers stage virtual field trips, while others can be used as teaching aids when explaining complex concepts — like how atoms are structured, or how they combine to form molecules.

New technologies, like video lessons and remote teaching systems, can also make classrooms more accessible — connecting guest speakers or teachers with specialized training to students that live in rural areas, or are otherwise difficult to reach. These technologies could also strengthen teacher lessons by providing additional information and visual explanations that might help visual learners better digest complicated topics or unfamiliar material.

However, as impressive as these new pieces of ed tech can be, they don’t guarantee better learning. For new technology to be effective, teachers and administrators will need to buy-in and commit to adjusting how they approach the classroom — and possibly education altogether.

How Teachers and Administrators Will Need to Adapt

Educators wanting to get the most out of ed tech may also need to learn new teaching approaches. 

Research has shown that new ed tech works best when used in teaching methods that encourage creativity and play — rather than when used to improve the efficiency of the “drill and kill” teaching approach, which is often used to prepare students for standardized tests. Teachers accustomed to using just one teaching approach — especially if their approach is focused on learning by reception — may struggle to incorporate ed tech effectively and need additional training or administrative supervision.

Administrators may also have to work with teachers who are skeptical of the usefulness of new ed tech — or are afraid that the new technology is designed to replace them.

Teachers who don’t buy in to the potential of new ed tech will be less likely to learn how to apply it to their lesson plans and teaching styles. If administrators want to smoothly integrate new technology into their schools, they’ll need to be prepared to support teachers who are unprepared or less willing to learn how to adapt to these new developments.

Administrators will also need to be prepared for new challenges presented by tech — especially in schools that adopt systems that store student data on the cloud, where it can be particularly vulnerable to hackers. At these schools, admins will need to become tech-savvy enough to defend their students’ data — or risk the consequences.

Adjusting to Education’s New Landscape

New technologies are being adapted to the classroom — and they might just change how we approach teaching and education. The latest ed tech can be used to stage virtual field trips, strengthen teaching techniques, provide better lessons for visual or kinetic learners and even use student to data to provide adaptive one-on-one computer tutoring.

However, tech alone won’t be enough. Educators and administrators will both need to work towards integrating new ed tech into the classroom while also preparing themselves for the new challenges posed by advancing technology.

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