Innovation in educational technology or edtech is massive. As we reported a short while ago here on Getting Smart, many investors are trying to cash in on the $6 billion dollars a year industry. And with good reason as any educational company isn’t just making money, they are burnishing their credentials, building towards a better future and developing brand loyalty among young learns.
No wonder so much change is coming at us as quickly as it is! The question is: What will go under and what will be widely adopted? It’s not an easy question to answer, but a vital one. After all, how else will we know where to look in the years ahead? So, though we have no crystal ball, we’re going to make an effort at seeing what will matter and what won’t in the years to come.
In his book Smarter, Faster, Better Charles Duhigg explains how data rooms revolutionized teaching in South Avondale Elementary School, taking it from one of the worst schools in Cincinnati to one of the highest performers. So what is this powerful tool called ‘the data room’? You guessed it, data was indeed kept there. But if you pictured shiny computers, smart boards, ipads and high powered projectors, then you pictured wrong. Instead, data is presented on butcher paper and index cards – in effect making it harder for teachers to engage with it.
The thinking behind this is that by forcing the teachers to commit to at least 30 minutes a week in the data room they – rather than just scanning through the numbers, spreadsheets and infographics – instead got to grips with and came to understand the numbers and the students behind them.
Only when that had happened was it possible for them to take actions to improve their classes, with them realizing what lesson plans weren’t working, which students were struggling and even why. The result? In the year that the data room was introduced students in one class went from scoring 38 percent in the state’s reading task to 72 percent in the space of one year.
In other words, big data is not enough, you’ve got to understand what it means for it to make sense and there will be an ever-greater drive to increasing data fluency. Now, this could be through data rooms (which are now being rolled out across the US) or some other system. But that it will happen is certain.
Yes, it’s an obvious one, but it still deserves to get mentioned as Gamification might well be the tool to draw the lagging gender back up to par. Gamification offers the opportunity for boys to once again become engaged and motivated in classes. And that this happen can’t be denied. A teacher polled their class and found that 85% said they were more likely to come to school on days they had his gamified class, 92% of students said they would rather learn in a gamified class and 100% said they enjoyed coming to class. Those are impressive numbers.
Note that this does not mean that Gamification will take over the class – teachers will still need to teach. What it does mean, though, is that there the group of young men without an education and without any opportunity will hopefully stop growing before it serves to destabilize the entire Western value system.
Though Trump’s nomination might indicate that we’re too late in that regard.
Flipped Learning Technology
This is another great idea, where the lectures and the homework assignments have been switched around so that students can watch the lectures at home as videos and do the homework in school with the teacher. And that makes sense, as in this way the more passive part of the school day can be done while stretched out on the bed, while the active part can be done when we’ve got the energy and interest to actually take part.
The result? The actual learning part is far more interactive and educational. Add to that that weaker students will be in a much better position to get the help you need and you can see the attraction. It’s getting less work for essay writing services because writing essays and making researches becomes actually fun for students. That’s why this is frequently mentioned as one of the recently launched educational technologies that are going to make a difference.
From there it will then be a matter of adapting the homework to better fit the classroom environment.
Innovation and adaptation
We’d like to list a lot more technologies here. The thing is, however, we can’t be certain if they’ll be making an entry into the teaching sphere anywhere soon. After all, it’s not just about innovation, as many of the edtechs seem to think. It’s also about adaptation. And in this regard, many teachers are lagging. Many, as the Data Room example shows, simply do not have the time to come to grip with new technologies and new ideas.
For that to happen, teachers have to spend less time in front of the class and more time learning how to use the tools and use them in a classroom setting. As long as that doesn’t happen the tech revolution will only take over the classrooms as quickly as the less tech-friendly old guard retire and a newer, more technologically literate group of teachers enters the workforce. And you can’t really call that a revolution – more like accommodation.
About the author:
Rick Riddle is a marketing consultant and an up-and-coming blogger whose articles aim to help people with entrepreneurship, career, e-learning, digital marketing and blogging. Feel free to follow @rickrddl on twitter.