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Carolyn Savage, Head of International Education at Winter’s International School Finder

The changing landscape of edtech

What role will technology play in the future of education? 

Posted by Hannah Oakman | November 17, 2016 | Business

By Carolyn Savage, Head of International Education at Winter’s International School Finder.

Technology is constantly evolving and changing and as such society is drastically different from what it was only 30 years ago. While coding, robotics, web design, 3D printing and green screens were once the ingredients of the next science fiction blockbuster, they are now part of the changing landscape of technology in education.

In recent years, the education sector has focused heavily on integrating technology into everyday teaching methods, so-much-so that according to data by CB Insights, education technology funding rose by 64% in 2015 to more than $3.1bn.

Education technology, commonly referred to as ‘edtech’, has soared in demand as schools, colleges and universities adapt to meet the demands of an increasingly digitally-focused world. Data from the World Economic Forum has shown that demand for technology skills will continue to grow by 20% by 2025 and new technologies will create more than two million jobs in just under five years’ time. 

Edtech is now implemented across the globe. In the Middle East for instance, Abu Dhabi’s education council recently introduced Google Computer Science First into its curriculums for 450,000 students, as well as introducing 3D printers into more than 90 schools. This change was made in a bid for students to learn how to create programmes, applications, games and robotics.

It is now increasingly common for coding to be introduced into curriculums across the globe

When I was living and working as an expat in Cambodia I had first-hand experience of the benefits of edtech. Many of the international schools there were teaching children as young as six years old how to code. It is now increasingly common for coding to be introduced into curriculums across the globe. For example, in the United Kingdom, the new computer science GCSE was introduced two years ago and has coding at its core, while US President Barack Obama rolled out ‘Computer Science for All’ in the United States, an initiative that aims to teach programming skills to every pupil, from nursery to secondary school.

Just recently, it was announced that the micro:bit mini-computer, a circuit board that can be programmed for a variety of creative tasks, including robotics, music and sports activities, is to be sold and used in schools across the world. In mid-October, for example, a 10-week micro:bit challenge was announced in schools across The Netherlands, during which classes will be set a new challenge each week, such as Build your own electric guitar. This is a key advancement in education technology as this comes after one million of the coding devices were given away for free to UK-based schoolchildren earlier this year, in order to encourage coding in schools and prepare students for the digital economy.

Amongst the most significant innovations that is emerging in edtech today are virtual and augmented reality headsets, artificial intelligence, real time collaborations, and wearable technology. These new innovations are already being implemented in traditional classrooms today. 

For instance, a virtual reality app for biology students which explores the inner workings of the human body in 3D is being launched, while artificial intelligence is already playing a role in learning analytics. Recently, a robot from Cornell University - PR2 - learnt various tasks which it then taught to another robot at Brown University in the United States.

Despite these impressive and innovative tech tools being introduced to schools globally, it’s important that education systems take care to carefully integrate edtech into the learner journey

Despite these impressive and innovative tech tools being introduced to schools globally, it’s important that education systems take care to carefully integrate edtech into the learner journey, otherwise, young learners are at risk of the negative health effects of inactivity, combined with the loss of vital social skills needed to develop and succeed in life. One lesson to teach young learners today, is that technology is best used to assist lives as opposed to ruling them.

About the author

As Head of International Education at Winter’s International School Finder, Carolyn is passionate about education and has spent 15 years working with children from all around the world. She is a third culture kid, whose understanding of the changing face of international education runs deep and she’s keen to help parents find the right schools for their children.

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