We are obsessed with creating new concepts. Concepts that allow us to have a better understanding of our current reality.
Tools such as smartphones, wifi and USB drives are concepts that a few years ago we didn’t understand but that today we use without a second thought.
We have also created new concepts in the education sector. The one that has been used the most in recent years is Edtech. A term that, little by little, we are adopting and adapting to.
But what does Edtech mean?
Let’s take it step by step.
Edtech is the abbreviation of “Educational technology”.
In Education Technology, the term “Edtech” has two definitions which are relevant to the way we use it.
Edtech as an academic discipline: people study, analyse and solve problems related to teaching, learning and social organisation from a technological perspective.
Edtech as a practice: any form of teaching or learning which makes use of technology. In other words, the use of technological apps, tools or services to improve learning. This definition is the one that is the most widely used in the education sector and the one we refer to in this article.
The aim of Edtech is to improve education
No more, no less. By using technology we seek to improve teaching and learning processes and therefore improve the performance of the education system.
It’s important to keep this aim in mind when choosing computer programmes, apps or devices for the classroom.
If introducing or using a new programme or device in the classroom is tedious and adapting to using it takes a long time, then perhaps we haven’t found the best solution. In this case, rather than facilitating teaching and learning, it actually makes it more difficult.
The question we should all ask when choosing an Edtech product or service is:
Is this technology simple to introduce/adopt and does it facilitate learning and improve students’ performance?
If the answer is yes, then we have found a product or service that fulfils the aim of educational technology.
What is Edtech NOT?
Edtech is not a substitute for the work of teachers and educators. Quite the opposite. With Edtech, teachers have more tools for employing strategies which focus on the use of the resources and information available.
The use of multimedia to impart knowledge. While certainly part of it, defining Edtech as using videos alone is a very limited way of looking at things. It’s like saying that maths is no more than additions and subtractions. And that’s where the definition ends.
Now let’s answer some more questions about Edtech.
Why is Edtech important? Why is there so much interest in it?
The answer is simple. We only have to look at the labour market.
Digital skills will be required by companies. And those people who don’t have these skills will find it more difficult to access the labour market.
An interesting fact which sums up this trend is that by 2021 it is expected that the United Kingdom will need 2.3 million people with digital skills.
Are we preparing future generations for the labour market?
If we look at the education system, we can say that the answer is no.
The current experience of students and teachers in the large majority of classrooms can be summarised as follows:
A class with students sitting down and a teacher standing up. The students have books on their desks and the teacher explains concepts.
It has been this way for 100 years.
Over the past 100 years, most educational models, especially in children’s education, have not changed.
But the reality outside of the classroom is different. Just look around. We all use technology in one form or other. In our free time, to plan lessons, watch videos and communicate with friends.
And for digital natives the use of technology is even greater.
Did you know that young Spanish people spend a whopping 6.8 hours using their mobile phones every day?
Young people are exposed to technology every day. And when they enter the classroom, they take a step backwards in the way they live and work. Listening to a teacher telling them what they have to write down is very outdated.
If students are not exposed to technology in the classroom, to enrich their experience of learning and teach them another way of using technology, the difference between those with digital skills and those without is going to be huge.
Ultimately, Edtech not only aims to improve teaching, but it also equips students with skills that are necessary for the future.