The modern digital economy has led to a greater demand for well-educated professionals. Nevertheless, many modern businesses, non-profits, governments, and aid agencies are finding it difficult to locate enough qualified professionals to fulfill their agendas. This has led to a desperate search for a new talent pool of students that universities and other education institutions can tap into in order to churn out a new, broader, and diverse generation of professionals capable of reshaping the world. That search is increasingly relying upon education technology, or EdTech, to locate and prepare students for their futures.
Tapping into unprivileged populations
Historically speaking, the education level of one’s parents often determined a student’s quality of education. This was true when books were a rare and valuable commodity, and it has remained to an extent today despite needs-based scholarships and diversity initiatives. It has been found that first-generation college students regularly underperform their legacy student counterparts, who come from many generations of university level education.
That could be changing, however, as governments and universities alike are beginning to tap into once left-out populations to bring more students into the classroom. They’re relying on EdTech, which is enabling individuals in geographically remote areas to access learning resources that were previously unavailable to them because of the vast distance keeping them apart.
As the World Bank pointed out, rural and impoverished communities that have historically lacked access to education can now rely on video services, smartphones, and other modern gadgets to access lectures and tutorials on the web. Having realized that there are immense profits to be made by broadening education opportunities, technology providers will proliferate video services and the physical hardware that rural, remote, or otherwise irregular students need to gain access to robust education programs.
Video-based learning may shift the landscape
Video-based learning services are set to expand access to the global education market. Scholars and students were initially skeptical of the approach, but have since come to appreciate the necessity of video learning to reach wider students bases and to allow flexibility in students’ timetables. MIT’s Integrated Learning Initiative also found that there are no indications that students who learn from video services perform worse than those in standard environments. Nevertheless, higher education programs have been hesitant to embrace EdTech, perhaps fearful of the consequences of deviating from traditional methods.
That’s according to the extensive 2019 Horizon Report on educational technology, which discovered that major universities and colleges have been slow to adopt technology in a wide variety of areas. While online learning platforms like Udemy could help thousands of students digitally access learning resources, education decision-makers were unwilling to invest in major innovations like artificial intelligence until the last few years.
This considerable oversight, as many recent innovations can drastically improve educational outcomes across the board. Some entrepreneurs are beginning to create initiatives on their own, realizing the monetary and societal value in expanding education access. Companies like Scholarly, allow foreign students anywhere in the world to access prestigious American universities and their professors through online streaming, will become increasingly common.
Noting that US colleges and universities collect less than 50% of their tuition, Scholarly and System73 lead investor, William Erbey, approaches the issue with a sense of pragmatism and not just altruism. “International students can fill empty classroom seats and pay full tuition generating much needed revenue to defray the cost of a college education for the entire student body,” Erbey says.
Artificial intelligence programs can combine with massive sums of student data to personalize higher education to a previously unimaginable extent, according to a Harvard Business Review analysis. So-called “personalized learning” will become the cornerstone of tomorrow’s educational programs, but many modern administrators are still hesitant to invest in these programs because they lack personal familiarity with the complex innovations being considered.
Educational institutions must do more
There’s no way of arriving at a brighter future where education opportunities are more widely available unless these institutions begin to adopt technology. As McKinseyillustrates, modern universities could drastically optimize their operations by relying on advanced analytics, but they don’t possess the qualified professionals needed to launch and manage analytics operations. Totally unsure of how to incorporate data analysis into their pre-existing educational models, these universities are making poor use of EdTech which could bolster student retention and graduation rates.
Low technology adoption rates are linked to lower budgets and downgraded forecasts. Dealing with lower enrollment rates and skyrocketing student debt figures, university administrators view modern marvels like data analytics and AI-accelerated learning as being frivolously expensive. In reality, however, the initial investments into these innovations will pay for themselves by radically improving educational outcomes and expanding the pool of students universities can draw from.
EdTech is already playing a critical role in the modern world by broadening access to educational experiences. Rural and impoverished students can already rely on digital tools to access lectures, expertise, and internships which were previously far out of reach. Until modern universities begin pumping serious money into EdTech, however, they’re going to be missing out on a myriad of profitable opportunities to help contribute to our long-term economic growth.