The intersection of education and technology is rapidly evolving, offering a remarkable chance to reshape learning and unleash its transformative power. At a first glace, it can seem that Education technology, or EdTech, is just about integrating gadgets and apps into classrooms. However, a closer look reveals it’s a movement that has the potential to create better quality of life, personal empowerment, poverty reduction, and accelerate ‘woke’ culture and social transformation. For all of these, owning and leading EdTech companies means that profitability and social impact walk hand-in-hand.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into how EdTech is changing the way we approach education, society, and innovation. We’ll explore its role in creating sustainable educational experiences, fostering permissionless innovation, and driving both short-term and long-term social change. Join us on a journey to understand the multifaceted impact of EdTech on the world of education and beyond.
Why is EdTech Transformational for Society?
According to experts, missing school equates to about a $30,000 penalty per year missed in terms of future earnings. The Graduation Alliance concludes high school dropouts can expect to lose approximately $260,000 in lifetime earnings. These and other stats were compiled by Invisible People TV, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about homelessness through innovative storytelling, news, and advocacy.
Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to understand EdTech’s transformative potential. It affects society directly through improved accessibility, personalized learning, economic empowerment, and lifelong learning. Additionally, it indirectly empowers teachers, enhances data-driven insights, promotes research and development, and contributes to social transformation.
These impacts can be seen in both the short and long term, shaping the future of education and society as a whole. We can assess this as a matrix:
How EdTech Changes the World
In the short term, EdTech breaks down geographical barriers, making education accessible to a wider audience. This accessibility is especially crucial during unforeseen disruptions, such as pandemics, allowing students to continue learning remotely.
EdTech platforms offer personalized learning experiences. In the short term, this boosts student engagement and understanding by tailoring content to individual needs, learning styles, and paces.
EdTech equips learners with relevant skills, enhancing their employability. This, in the long term, can lead to economic empowerment and upward mobility for individuals, ultimately reducing poverty.
The long-term impact of EdTech includes fostering a culture of lifelong learning. As technology advances, people need to continuously acquire new skills and adapt. EdTech supports this journey.
EdTech can free up teachers’ time by automating administrative tasks and providing data-driven insights. In the short term, this allows educators to focus on more personalized and effective teaching.
Educational institutions can gather and analyze data on student performance and engagement. Short-term benefits include early interventions to assist struggling students and optimizing resources.
|Research and Development
EdTech encourages research into effective teaching methods and educational content. The long-term effect is the continuous improvement of education systems.
Over time, increased access to quality education fosters a more educated and informed society, leading to positive social change and the creation of informed citizens.
How exciting is that?
Getting Specific: In Which (Maybe Unforeseen) Ways do Tech Companies Enable Outstanding Education?
Building on the transformative potential of EdTech and its impact on society, let’s explore how tech companies play a pivotal role in enabling outstanding education. By collaborating with educators and investing in innovative solutions, tech companies have the power to redefine learning.
First, EdTechs spearhead a cultural shift, especially compared to the industrial-age style that is still too frequent in schools around the world. These companies can transform student and educator experiences by
- Holding themselves accountable, especially through Quality Control. That is, ensuring that EdTech tools maintain high educational standards, fostering outstanding learning outcomes.
- Supporting research on how to improve learning outcomes. In other words, collaborating with educational institutions to conduct research on the impact of technology on learning and adapting their products accordingly.
- Investing in Professional Development of its users. A huge part of user adoption and customer success stems from offering training and professional development for educators to maximize the potential of technology in the classroom.
- Incentivizing Community Engagement. EdTech provides the means for fostering communities and networks of educators, students, and parents to share best practices and provide support.
Second, this unfolds into everyday practices that ripple through student’s lives and careers. Let’s delve into some practical examples of how the impact of the use of technology (and the intervention of EdTech companies) unfold:
Example 1: Fostering Engagement and Critical Thinking
Tech companies can develop interactive learning platforms that engage students actively in their education. For instance, consider an AI-driven platform that allows students to solve real-world problems, like designing solutions to environmental challenges. By immersing learners in such hands-on experiences, tech companies enable outstanding education by fostering critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and real-world relevance.
Example 2: Personalizing Learning Pathways
Tech companies often provide tools that adapt to individual student needs. Let’s take the example of an adaptive learning platform used in K-12 education. This technology assesses each student’s proficiency in various subjects and tailors lessons accordingly. It provides additional resources and support where needed, creating personalized learning pathways that lead to deeper understanding and academic excellence.
Example 3: Facilitating Professional Development for Educators
Outstanding education requires outstanding educators. Tech companies can offer professional development opportunities for teachers. For instance, a tech company might provide an online portal with courses and resources on the latest teaching techniques, allowing educators to continually enhance their skills and keep up with educational trends.
Example 4: Promoting Accessible and Inclusive Education
Tech companies have the capacity to make education accessible to all learners. Take, for instance, the development of assistive technology for students with disabilities. By creating screen readers, captioning tools, and adaptive input devices, tech companies empower students with diverse needs, ensuring inclusivity in education.
Example 5: Supporting Research and Innovation
Tech companies can fund research projects that lead to innovations in educational content and methods. For example, a tech company might sponsor a study on the effectiveness of gamification in teaching complex concepts. This research contributes to improved teaching strategies and benefits both educators and students.
In this ever-evolving educational landscape, tech companies have the unique opportunity to become true partners in driving outstanding education. By creating engaging, personalized learning experiences, facilitating professional development for educators, promoting inclusivity, and investing in research, they can shape the future of learning. Tech companies are more than just providers of tools; they are enablers of innovation and excellence in education.
Arguments for Permissionless Education Innovation
All this said, there’s a need to make EdTech more widely spread. This move toward permissionless education innovation seeks to unlock the full potential of EdTech, providing opportunities for everyone. Importantly, it’s a path that doesn’t compromise the sustainability of EdTech companies but, rather, can enhance their long-term viability. Permissionless education innovation encourages exploration and experimentation in educational technology, offering several compelling arguments:
- Fostering Innovation: Allowing tech companies and innovators to experiment and innovate freely can lead to the discovery of groundbreaking solutions that transform education.
- Open Access: It ensures that educational resources are open and available to all, irrespective of their geographical or economic status.
- Adaptation to Rapid Changes: Permissionless innovation allows for quick adaptation to new needs and challenges, which can be critical in crisis situations like pandemics.
By embracing these principles, EdTech can be sustainable, transformational, and outstanding while fostering permissionless education innovation that leads to exciting breakthroughs.
A Glimpse into the Future of Permissionless EdTech
Permissionless education innovation means breaking down barriers that might restrict the development, deployment, or accessibility of EdTech solutions. This approach aims to ensure that valuable educational tools are not locked behind proprietary restrictions, costly licensing fees, or limited access.
Example 1: Open Educational Resources (OER)
In practice, permissionless EdTech can involve the creation and sharing of open educational resources (OER). OER are freely accessible materials that educators can use, adapt, and distribute. You can draw inspiration from UNESCO’s playlist on the topic, available here:
By encouraging OER, EdTech companies contribute to the collective knowledge and empower educators worldwide. This is especially necessary considered that the public-school student-teacher ratio dropped from 15.9 in fall 2019 to 15.4 in fall 2020, the lowest since 2009. Educators are few, exhausted, and in dire need of resources that make their lives easier.
Example 2: MOOC Platforms and Free Courses
Leading EdTech companies offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with free access to course content. While they may charge for certifications or advanced features, the core educational content remains accessible to anyone. For instance, Coursera and edX provide this option, making high-quality education available to a global audience.
Example 3: Collaboration with Open-Source Communities
Tech companies can collaborate with open-source communities to develop educational software and tools. This cooperative approach facilitates innovation, reduces costs, and makes EdTech solutions freely available. For instance, Moodle, an open-source learning platform, relies on contributions from developers worldwide.
Example 4: Supporting Non-Profit Initiatives
Tech companies can actively support non-profit organizations focused on enhancing education. By donating resources, offering technical expertise, or providing infrastructure, they ensure that innovative educational solutions are available to a broader audience.
Example 5: Accessibility Features for Diverse Needs
EdTech companies can invest in building accessibility features into their software, ensuring that learners with disabilities have equal access to education. This commitment to accessibility broadens the reach of EdTech and emphasizes the importance of making technology available to all.
Permissionless education innovation is not only a moral imperative, but also a strategic move that benefits EdTech companies in the long run. By making education more accessible, fostering open resources, and collaborating with open-source communities, tech companies can grow their potential market to a much larger audience, or find specific niches that can actually boost profit margins. It’s a journey that aligns profitability with social impact, promising a future where education knows no bounds.
Can EdTech-Building Be Even More Sustainable?
As we continue our exploration into EdTech’s multifaceted impact, we arrive at the critical juncture of sustainability. EdTech companies have the potential to go beyond profitability and social impact, striving to achieve the triple bottom-line, as recommended by UNDP’s goals and GRI reporting. These ambitious sustainability objectives can be tailored for early-stage startups, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and enterprise companies, contributing to a more sustainable educational landscape while securing their own future success. EdTech can be more sustainable by:
- Reducing Digital Waste: Building platforms and apps that don’t become obsolete quickly, minimizing the need for constant updates and replacements.
- Eco-Friendly Infrastructure: Utilizing green data centers and adopting sustainable practices in software and hardware development.
- Investing in Lifelong Learning: Promoting continuous learning for students and educators to ensure that technology remains relevant throughout their lives.
Initiating Sustainability for Every Tier of EdTech
Sustainability objectives are not limited to giant corporations. They can be adapted for all EdTech players, from early-stage startups finding their footing to established enterprises with broader influence. Here’s how sustainability goals can be pursued at each tier:
How Inspired Are We?
EdTech’s transformative potential is not confined to innovation and profit; it extends to a much broader mission. EdTech companies of all sizes can uphold profitability, make a meaningful social impact, and champion environmental sustainability. This holistic approach promises to shape a future where education is equitable, accessible, and conscious, while securing a brighter financial future for EdTech as well.
However, these endeavors are only as strong as the team behind them. To succeed in these goals, it’s crucial to bring in mission-aligned team members who share the passion for sustainability and innovation. If your EdTech company is looking to recruit dedicated professionals who are committed to your mission, consider reaching out to Ubiminds. Our team can help you find the talent you need to drive your EdTech initiatives forward, transforming the landscape of education and securing a brighter future for your company and society.
International Marketing Leader, specialized in tech. Proud to have built marketing and business generation structures for some of the fastest-growing SaaS companies on both sides of the Atlantic (UK, DACH, Iberia, LatAm, and NorthAm). Big fan of motherhood, world music, marketing, and backpacking. A little bit nerdy too!