The EdTech, or education technology industry, is learning new lessons for using web applications in the wake of the pandemic. Innovative technologies are pushing the boundaries of learning for universities and businesses.
App-based educational platforms such as Codeacademy and Duolingo, for example, were already widely used before Covid-19. This form of EdTech is typically used in a more leisurely way for learners to pass the time while waiting for a friend or on their way to work.
App-based learning is not necessarily seen as an integral part of the modern education system. But those narrow perceptions are starting to change, according to Nikolas Kairinos, CEO of software company Soffos.
“There has been a slow march towards greater innovation in the education industry for some time. Indeed, Covid-19 restrictions made it more of a necessity than a choice, but it was only a matter of time before e-learning platforms and app-based technology took a toll. more prominent place in traditional educational settings,” he told TechNewsWorld.
A key issue with educational technology today is that without the tools to fully participate and engage with EdTech, disadvantaged children may be negatively affected by the shift to online learning, Kairinos warned. The signs of this happening are already very evident over the past two years.
In an ideal world, every student would have access to a reliable internet connection and an up-to-date laptop or computer. However, too often this is not the case, he noted.
“If a large proportion of students lack appropriate technology, we run the risk of aggravating the current learning gap. As such, EdTech should be accessible to everyone, not just privileged institutions and those who can afford it,” he added.
Blind educators, funding factors
Kairinos, who EdTech Digest recently named one of EdTech’s Top 100 Influencers, has a good idea of what the future holds for the industry.
He has participated as an entrepreneur, investor and advisor in the creation of numerous software startups around the world for over 30 years. In particular, he has a strong passion for artificial intelligence and EdTech solutions that enhance the learning experience.
The implementation of these technologies will be useless if educators do not adopt them. As the shift to online learning in 2020 blindsided many teachers, the quality of teaching they provided suffered as they were ill-equipped to deal with the crisis, Kairinos alleged.
The growth of EdTech learning strategies will require significant investments from government agencies. The results will be an important step towards democratizing education, he predicts.
Few institutions have prepared their staff with sufficient training or knowledge to use new technologies effectively. Some were even reluctant to adopt it in the first place. As such, one of the main challenges in EdTech today is the lack of proper training for educators, Kairinos observed.
“While increasing training can be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking, fortunately most of the products on the market are quite intuitive, so educators should be able to master them in no time,” he said. added.
The associated costs are also worth it, given that certain technologies have the potential to reduce the workload of educators, while simultaneously improving the specificity and quality of teaching offered to students. In many ways, it’s money well spent, he said.
New EdTech solutions
Soffos.ai has launched a new web application, TestMe, which brings study materials to life and helps learners grasp essential concepts in minutes.
The AI-driven EdTech platform’s algorithms read uploaded student notes to create personalized flashcards and quizzes for end users. This provides an engaging gamified experience.
In addition to saving time, TestMe allows learners to delve deeper into content by creating question and answer pairs in minutes. This allows them to spend less time creating review material and more time learning independently.
A unique aspect of TestMe is its use of natural language processing (NLP). This allows learners to talk to TestMe and answer questions in typed natural language so they understand their learning material in their own words.
TestMe helps improve learner engagement when learning at home because it gamifies the experience. Studying for exams isn’t always the most fun. Thus, making learning course content more interactive and enjoyable is a passion of TestMe’s developers, Kairinos noted.
“It is also important to recognize that the sharing functionality will allow teachers to test and measure their students’ knowledge remotely, if necessary,” he added. “It’s this kind of technology that will help the industry strike the right balance between in-person and home-based learning.”
Paradigm shift to EdTech
Other industries have excelled with technology to revolutionize processes and practices. The education sector, however, has long relied on old-fashioned learning approaches, Kairinos lamented. The pandemic has highlighted this and institutions have quickly adapted.
“However, the need for improved reach and flexibility of learning still exists and was there long before we even heard of Covid-19,” he said.
The biggest problem he sees is that schools, colleges, and other institutions generally don’t see EdTech as an integral part of education today. Simply put, EdTech is not just there to provide continuity of education.
“When properly harnessed and integrated into traditional learning contexts, it has the potential to improve teaching and bring education into the modern age,” he noted.
The field of education needs improvement with customization of curriculum for individual learners. Since no two students are the same, implementing a solution that accounts for individual differences can be very difficult in practice without the right technology in place.
“Educators already work long hours and have a lot to do. So, investing in solutions that collect sophisticated data analytics on individual learners and come up with a personalized action plan would solve a huge problem,” he added.
EdTech can help level the playing field for students when individual needs are recognized by their educators and adjust lessons and learning materials accordingly.
If a student has a lack of understanding in literacy, for example, AI technology will help educators identify their needs so that all individuals get the help they deserve, Kairinos explained.
Call of gamified learning
Gamification places game design elements such as earning trophies, progressing to new levels, or earning virtual currencies, into a non-traditional game context. This is a particularly fascinating aspect of app-based educational technology and provides fun and unique ways for students to test their knowledge, according to Kairinos.
The game gives learners the opportunity to progress through increasingly difficult levels. It also improves the ability to compete with friends and colleagues.
This process has been scientifically proven to increase dopamine production, Kairinos noted. Gamification of the learning experience is likely to influence learners to associate feeling good and having fun with their educational endeavors.
“This is something that we have really tried to develop with TestMe. We hope this will be a step in the right direction when it comes to giving people the tools they need to spend more time learning and that they will feel invigorated by the solution, which streamlines the sometimes clumsy process of reviewing hardware,” he concluded.