According to a recent news release, the fast-paced growth of education technology industry is expected to further flourish at a rate of 17% per annum, amounting to a whopping 252 billion dollars by 2020. The past decade witnessed an overhaul in the education industry with the introduction and growth of blended learning, which, as a pedagogical technique, combines in-class activities in an actual classroom with online engagement with students.
However, despite such estimation and an evidential increase in adoption of technologies in the field of education at every level, the industry still faces significant challenges. Here is a glimpse of the challenges the Education Technology (EdTech) industry is gearing up to face in 2018.
Challenges confronting EdTech industry in 2018
- Lack of universal accessibility
In today’s technologically advanced and more-than-ever-connected world wherein the global user internet penetration is expected to grow to 53.7 percent in 2021 from 46.8 percent in 2017, we still lack absolute internet connectivity, especially in remote areas. An uninterrupted 24*7 internet access stands as a prerequisite to impart knowledge to students at their pace and comfort, and additionally, to make online learning delivery easier. Given the lack of seamless and uniform internet facilities across the globe, it is difficult to seek universal accessibility of education via technology. This challenge still haunts the EdTech industry in 2018.
- Absence of uniform content
Another aspect of EdTech that troubles the educators is the concept of responsive content. Technology-based education is predominated by the uniformity and responsiveness of the content across all internet-enabled devices.
This leads to a more customized and personalized educational encounter for the students. Achieving this content uniformity across devices and platforms to enhance a user-friendly experience requires a dedicated team of designers and developers. Educators unaware of this aspect of EdTech may falter in approach and opt for a service provider that does not offer the IT capabilities, thus putting in jeopardy the interest and participation of their students.
- Dearth of technology training
What puts new technology on a back foot is the lack of preparatory training. According to an EdTech survey, 54% respondents including teachers and staff complained of inadequate professional training to deliver online learning. Lack of training is the second greatest hurdle facing the EdTech industry, coupled with the lack of information technology staffing support.
Such difficulty to access the means to simplify the end puts both educators and learners in a technological dilemma.
- Lower adoption rate
Findings of a study by the Centre for Digital Education shows that 73% educators teaching via blended learning observed a rise in student participation. However, another recent survey establishes that 41.4% teachers are resistant to adapt to new, unfamiliar technological changes. This resistance can be attributed to lack of internet availability or exposure or adherence to the traditional, more ‘comfortable’ mode of classroom-based teaching and learning.
According to a recent study, the teacher-support or self-study mode of online learning is yet to influence a hesitant audience to lead to more digital conversions since only 59% teachers reported being able to motivate students through the online learning method.
- Cost crunch
Investing in the latest, most advanced technology comes at a price, and the recurrent need for technological advancements in the education sector is no different. One of the daunting-most challenges education providers and facilitators come across is financing the infrastructure required for online or blended learning.
Even if educators make the initial investment to get aboard the EdTech train, recurrent updates and bug fixes necessary for smooth running of the adopted technology to facilitate knowledge delivery would require further financing. This adds to the difficulty faced by institutions to adapt to, or/and maintain technical apparatus for the changing educational needs.
- Too many platforms to choose from
The EdTech sector is not new, and the industry has a lot of vendors offering different permutations and combinations of features required to run a successful online learning program. The problem arises when the educational institutions and organizations set out to choose among the service providers.
The requirements of each educational institution vary, depending upon factors molded by geographical location, technology budgeting, and the required bandwidth. Settling with the most appropriate service provider always depends on what an educator seeks to deliver to its final audience – the students. This clarity is hard to come by without a solid market research, which is difficult as EdTech market is still in its nascent stage.
Overcoming these challenges and steering through the tumultuous initial phase of converting to and settling in the EdTech industry depends upon the choice an educator makes regarding the service provider. Here are the 2018 Edtech trends the educational institutions and organizations should be looking forward to.
Upcoming Trends Set to Disrupt the EdTech Space in 2018
The constant up-gradation in the world of EdTech innovation can be attributed to the renewed trends. Such trends provide an insight into the minds of learners and help fix the challenges previously faced by both, students and educators. Here is a list of five most disruptive trends that would hit the EdTech space in 2018.
- Mobile learning solution
When the world changed sides from a complete reliance on computers and laptops to a more convenient and handy smartphone era, technology-based learning and teaching took a new shape. A Flurry Data report suggests a 69% increase in in-app time in 2016. This metamorphosis in the EdTech industry led to an increased reliance on mobile-learning, empowering students to adapt to advanced educational technology cutting across socio-economic and geographical boundaries.
The phase of cybercafés and immobile, infrastructure-based learning has given way to a more student-paced m-learning that solves the problem of not only inaccessibility but also higher costs. Educators can make a switch to m-learning and create responsive content for more uniform educational content. An m-learning app enables educators to deliver live classes directly to the end users’ smartphones. Other advantages of a mobile learning solution include the provision of keeping track of upcoming events you design for your students, easy access to your courseware at all time, and improved engagement with fellow students. These features of m-learning offer increased student interaction, making your online teaching success.
- Advanced learning management systems
Since online learning delivery constantly requires appropriate tools to train and teach students, partners or customers, the worldwide LMS industry is expected to see an exponential growth at a CAGR of 24.7% by 2021. Availability of features like online tutoring, MOOC designing, delivering course modules on-the-go, training customers and partners using custom-branded learning portals or live classes, and customizing logos, banners, URL, etc. to match your brand is beneficial for an educator.
An advanced LMS software also enables education providers a platform to generate revenue by creating and selling online courses that can be consumed by learners at their own pace. Another advantage of an LMS is the convenience of teaching and learning that is guaranteed through a flexible LMS software, that promises upward and downward scalability depending on the required bandwidth. Cloud-based learning management systems also help educators expand their reach and scale-up their operations.
- Virtual reality (VR)
Breaking the shackles of space and time, virtual reality is a promising alternative to enable learners to engage in educational activities outside the physical boundaries of a tangible classroom. By creating a virtual environment for students to interact with the educator and fellow learners, spatial barriers could be overcome for a more unified learning experience.
Higher education colleges like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. have already started giving virtual reality tours to their potential students to increase enrollments. With the advent of VR in the education sector, educators would be empowered to engage with their learners at a more personalized level via increased learner engagement, by offering them an immersive experience.
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is the most intriguing of technological advancements of our time. From creating advanced data-collecting algorithms to providing detailed and customized student feedback, AI shines as the most competent EdTech trend in 2018. Perpetual virtual assistance by self-learning machines is sure to leave a mark on the EdTech industry by creating a more personalized learning experience.
- Internet of things (IoT)
The ultimate web of wirelessly interconnected devices exchanging real-time data to produce predictive Big Data is the world of Internet of Things. Basis an ABI research, the number of wirelessly connected devices is expected to reach 40.9 billion in 2020. For the education sector, IoT offers a seamless connection between learners and technology, permitting increasingly personalized education content for improved online learning delivery. The concept of Internet of Things can also be applied by college administration to build connected-campuses.
Such innovation is bound to enhance and secure the shared data, providing real-time actionable insight into the students’ engagement with the offered course module, help educators optimize their activities, and alter the modules accordingly for improved educational outcomes.
- eLearning analytics
A deep analysis of big data is a useful means to assess students’ performance and usage of the online learning delivery platforms. Educators can improve instructor effectiveness, learner retention, and ROI of their online teaching activities with a diligent use of data sets to develop behavior-model algorithms.
eLearning algorithms help develop personalized training paths catering to the needs of the individual student, which further enhances the detailed insights on online content consumption by learners.
With technological innovation to improve the education sector for a seamless, more connected learning system, the use of state-of-the-art technologies benefit both, students and educators. The expanding horizon of effective technology integration is sure to leave an indelible mark on the education sector in the coming years.
 http://www.hmhco.com/~/media/sites/home/Teachers/Files/HMH-CDE_Issue Brief_Blended Learning.PDF