Education technology (edtech) describes a ‘marriage’ of technology and education. The ‘future’ has blessed this seemingly odd union, which unlike many marriages, is destined to last, as it links the latest technology with the age-old art of teaching. Its main goal is to ease the way people learn both traditional subjects and technical skills. Edtech’s potential to improve the way people learn and retain new information could revolutionise the events and conferences industry. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the spread and development of edtech, but it’s hardly a tool system exclusive to remote education settings. Its impact is universal, whether interactions are live or at arm’s length.
‘Training can’t be stopped’
If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught businesses, perhaps even more than schools, it’s that training can’t be stopped. Companies, whether in or out of lockdowns, would have shut down permanently without the ability to give their employees the tools they needed to continue working. After a short hiatus and amid much confusion, conferences and events proceeded – even if many participants were forced to substitute the pleasures of camaraderie, networking with industry bigwigs and a fine buffet breakfast at a fine resort with ‘attending’ presentations via Zoom or Skype for Business. These are certainly technologies and solutions that fall within the edtech space, and they allowed events to continue despite the whims of the coronavirus spike proteins, transforming corporate training through digitisation.
“Edtech’s potential to improve the way people learn and retain new information could revolutionise the events and conferences industry”
But edtech can do much more than allow a gold mining executive in Timbuktu to watch and hear noted precious metals investing expert Jim Rogers deliver a keynote address from his home in Singapore; edtech’s ultimate value is in its ability to combine hardware, software with the latest cognitive theories and practices, whose main purpose is to ease learning. Surely, the pandemic has forced companies to allow employees to work remotely. Some businesses have moved completely online. Similarly, digital corporate training – once subordinated to more traditional forms of training – has come to the fore.
Edtech does much more. Whether remotely or in a conference room overlooking the Rockies at the Banff Springs Hotel, these tools engage participants to interact more; for example, through games. More specifically, event participants can use Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) to allow for self-learning after the event. LXPs are intuitive platforms, which use artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms that track the preferences and habits of individual users, to increase the engagement of students by allowing for easy discovery of the most relevant content and recommended activities based on their interests. Such a platform avoids top-down training, which causes most adults to compare memories of some events to their last visit at the dentist’s office.
The value of analytics
Still, edtech also offers employers something special: learning analytics. Learning analytics maximise the training goals of the conference, event or overall strategy. These tools generally perform four broad analytical functions: they allow for training managers, or trainees themselves, to monitor such aspects as the number of participants attending a given event; how long they stayed/participated; what activities they completed; and what scores they may have obtained in tests or other evaluation methods. Quite simply, such tools allow managers to track and review a company’s progress in their training efforts.
Those same managers can learn the reasons and any critical issues with a given training program or event. For example, if an outside course or conference attracts few willing participants (and without the benefits of physical presence and nice settings, this problem is only destined to increase) while new hires find it useful, diagnostic tools can help identify the reasons for the poor appeal of the event. The reasons may include anything from the inadequate contents to overly specific material. The point is that edtech diagnostic tools can help make content more engaging for all concerned. And these also make it possible to predict which courses or conferences might be most suitable for a given employee to attend. The AI component’s main benefit is that after producing and evaluating the response data from event participants, the learning experience can be improved for the next round.
AI allows managers and event participants to analyse event data and get feedback in real-time. AI can create an event that best suits the interests, abilities and idiosyncrasies of participants, which leads to a personalised learning experience. In the same way, participants can review areas they did not understand, while managers can measure their ROI.
And what better way to advertise a conference or training program than to be able to sell that kind of experience?
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