Digital Transformation in the Education Sector – A Guide to Education Technology
Gouldian Finch | April 29, 2019
Can you think of an aspect of life that has not yet been influenced by digital transformation and technology?
Chances are high that the answer is no!
This is especially true in the education sector, which finds varying degrees of digital transformation happening all time.
In that regard, from interactive whiteboards to front-facing projectors, the digital transformation in the education sector has yielded its own technological industry – EdTech.
Since much of the digital transformation in the education sector is rather new, many are still unaware of EdTech and how it has changed the face of education forever.
With that in mind, we figured that a guide to education technology, as well as to the digital transformation in the education sector, would be prudent.
What is EdTech and what role does it play in the digital transformation of the education sector?
Short for educational technology, EdTech refers to a branch of technology that is used to enhance classroom learning. This may seem like a broad definition, but EdTech really is just that. From digital whiteboards to online curriculum management systems and specialized tablets, EdTech covers the gamut of products and philosophies to bring education practices into the 21st century.
This is where the digital transformation of the education sector comes into play. Remember, the EdTech revolution isn’t simply the purchase of a few products on the part of a single teacher, but rather a large investment, both in size and scope, made by a school or school district.
Case in point, think back to your own education. Chances are that chalkboards, overhead projectors, and bulky books were all present. Conversely, thanks to the overall digital transformation of the education sector, the chalkboards have been replaced with digital whiteboards, the overhead projectors with interactive front-of-classroom displays, and the bulky books with digital tablet-based versions. The difference, frankly, is palpable, and is entirely facilitated by these EdTech devices.
4 points in favor of digital transformation in the Education Sector
As is the case with any sector-level transformation, whether it be industrial, political, or academic, there are those that have opinions. Everyone has one, and they are usually binary between ‘good’ and ‘bad’. With that mind, in the context of digital transformation in the education sector, those in favor usually point towards the prospect for increased experimentation, resources, efficiency, and life skill development.
1. Experimentation & Feedback
On-the-fly quizzes & up-to-date lesson content are 2 factors in which EdTech is more dynamic than the ways of old. The fact is, considering EdTech’s always-connected status, teachers have been given the tools for infinite experimentation and near-instantaneous feedback. What to test out a new learning tool? No problem. Want to ensure that your students are understanding new material? Give them a quiz. Realize that your lesson material is slightly out-of-date? Update it seamlessly! The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to the digital transformation of the education sector, you can experiment whenever you please and can act on the results however you see fit.
2. A dearth of resources
When it comes to EdTech, teachers will never have to worry about resource limitations ever again! When an interactive whiteboard’s native software, as well as its internet-connectivity, is taken into account, resources are practically infinite. These may range from media integration to live annotation and gamification, but honestly, the only limitation is the teacher’s creativity and technological literacy.
3. Automation and Efficiency
The development of young and not-so-young minds may be the goal of education, but unfortunately, it’s not always the reality. The truth is that, even when in the classroom, the act of teachers is filled with unfortunately necessary byproducts that ultimately distract from the goal at hand. The include grading and attendance verification.
Luckily, EdTech and, therefore, the digital transformation of the education sector, is here to help! Considering the trend present in nearly all industry-level technology upgrades, increased automation and efficiency often arise out of the transformation. Education is no exception. Now, teachers can delegate those administrative distractions to their newly-acquired EdTech tools. As a result, those properly using EdTech devices may find that their day-to-day teaching experiences are much more efficient.
4. Life Skill Development
No matter how you feel about technology’s presence in our modern world, it’s here to stay. Whether you’re looking for a job or trying to communicate with a friend on the other side of the world, the use of technology has gone from a quirky hobby to a necessity in a matter of years. That’s where Edtech and the education sector’s digital transformation plays a large role. By exposing students, especially the younger ones, to this technology, they will be set for life. In practice, manifestations include source literacy and digital presentation creation. As such, by considering technology use a life school, there’s no better time to learn than when brains are still developing.
3 drawbacks of digital transformation in the Education Sector
Think about it – When has a large-scale transformation ever had unanimous support? Never, that’s when. The digital transformation of the education sector is no different, with its detractors offering very real concerns. These include the potential for in-class distraction, the possibility of unequal access between students, and the lack of digital source oversight. Below, we’ll delve into these drawbacks and determine if they are true dealbreakers.
1. Distractions Abound
We get it – screens are addictive. Are you commuting, laying in bed, using the bathroom, or simply bored? Then it must be time to scroll. Detractors of the education sector’s digital transform look at this societal trend and don’t see it as beneficial for the classroom. From a certain perspective, one can almost see their point – students are already easily distracted, how would the inclusion of ‘fun’ technology not exacerbate things?
The answer, of course, lies in the hands of the teachers. If they’re able to properly communicate boundaries and limitations for device usage, with an emphasis on respect, there’s no reason that this potential pitfall can’t be overcome.
2. Unequal Access
Inequality, in all its variations, is rife in our society. Furthermore, considering the costs associated with modern technology, not every student could possibly afford it. This is why, if Edtech and the overall digital transformation of the education sector are to succeed, then classes need to provide students with all the necessary tools and materials in a universal manner. Conversely, teachers do not necessarily have to implement EdTech on the individual-student-level, but rather can limit it to front-of-classroom tools.
3. Source Reliability
In an era where anyone can publish anything, and the truth has become a matter of opinion, the reliability of online sources can be described as, at best, opaque. Without the literacy that comes with proper education and experience in the matter, deciphering the truth from the biased falsehoods contained within internet sources can be very difficult. That’s why, although young people may appear to be innate technological gurus, there’s no replacement for old-school research instruction and guidance.
Implementing a digital transformation strategy – 4 points to bear in mind
Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, the digital transformation of the education sector is happening. As is necessary when it comes to this sort of thing, you should have an implementation plan ready to go. This is true for both the administrators who will have to plan this transformation and the teachers who must enact it and be taught to use the EdTech products. Focusing on the latter group, we think that proper strategic implementation must involve consideration of the students themselves, the still-important lesson plan, the continued use of non-digital resources, and the so-call educational triangle. Intrigued? Let’s dive in!
1. The Educational Triangle
The modern era, education contains three major tenets – teaching, learning, and technology. Forming a sort of ‘educational triangle’, it’s important that no one tenet outweigh the others. This can go for teachers that see the introduction of technology as an ‘easy out’ from putting in the hard work. When it comes down to it, the ideal scenario comes the three come together in unison, when teaching is augmented with technology and makes the learning process to efficient and effective.
2. Know your audience
Education has never been a ‘one-size-fits-all’ institution. What works for one student or classroom at one time may not work for other students or classrooms at other times. The goes double for the integration of EdTech in the classroom. A feature that works incredibly well for detailed lecture-based learning, for instance, may not be as effective when dealing with younger students that require a more engrossing approach.
3. Lesson Planning is not obsolete
The digital transformation of the education sector, although indicative of the modern age, has not fully eliminated the ways of old. Importantly, lesson planning has remained just as important is it was in decades past. Flashy EdTech tools and visual aids mean nothing in the face of an improperly planned lesson. At the end of the day, remember that these tools are meant to enhance your lesson rather than to replace it.
4. The use of things
Just because it is exciting to use the brand new EdTech tools, don’t forget that the old resources are still present, effective, tried, and true. Paper, scissors, and glue, for example, may not be the pinnacle of high tech, but there’s always a lesson to be taught about building something with one’s own hands. In short, there are plenty of ‘things’ one could use in conjunction with EdTech, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. Who knows, their effect may be surprising.
Understanding your Educational Digital DNA
Before starting any major EdTech projects your school should start by clearly understanding your current educational digital DNA. ViewSonic offers a free 5-minute online quiz to start you on your journey. Start today!
Learn more about Digital DNA by downloading our Whitepaper.
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