Through evolution comes challenges.
GUEST COLUMN | by Jazz Gandhum
People always ask me, “why don’t you develop a course that teaches this, or teaches that because there would be a huge demand for it?” I always respond by making them understand that there is no such thing as “small-time” in this field.
We have now entered an education world unlike no other. The truth is, nobody knows how we will really learn in 20 or 50 years from now, but the race is on to understand how education will evolve and continue to depend on technology as a vehicle for delivery.
In edtech, we need to remember that learners are there ready and waiting through technology – the skill lies in how we market and engage with them.
With this evolution comes a number of challenges that we within the edtech sector have and will continue to face – with the most prominent being: the evolving digital landscape, the value of mass education and the growing skills gap.
Evolving Digital Landscape
With the evolving digital landscape comes a whole host of challenges: From ensuring we remain agile and dynamic, incorporating the latest technologies into the world of education, so we can continue to engage with a mass audience – to persuading larger corporations and educational institutions to invest in different types of technology, so that they can improve the accessibility of educational opportunities and pathways for their students.
Interestingly, my company recently undertook some research to assess the value placed on adult or continuous learning. A key statistic revealed that only 8.5 percent of individuals closest to school leaving age [18-24] advised they preferred classroom based learning, with the majority confirming they felt most engaged through e-learning via technological devices.
This in itself confirms just how engaged individuals are with technology, and how this now plays such a vital role in our day-to-day lives. In edtech, we need to remember that learners are there ready and waiting through technology – the skill lies in how we market and engage with them.
Education to the Masses
Although its lessened over the years, a stigma still surrounds the concept of ‘mass production’ – suggesting that the quality isn’t as high or as carefully constructed as individual or ‘bespoke’ products or services.
Yet, in education excellent course content is excellent course content – no matter how many times it is read through or produced. Providing education to the masses through e-learning does not compromise a learning experience, but rather helps hundreds and thousands of individuals learn something new, useful and meaningful that could help them improve their skillset, start a new job role and even develop a new business. Getting individuals and learners to understand and engage with this concept is vital.
Education is not devalued through technology, instead it is only through technology that education is more accessible and affordable, with learners able to engage with course content at a convenient time or place to suit – whether on a computer during working hours or during their own time via a mobile device.
EdTech and Career Development
With the introduction and evolution of digital platforms, has come the requirement for individuals to upskill and take on new responsibilities. In most cases, these individuals will often learn on the job, without any official training and development and the expectation to adapt and evolve with technology.
For many this is possible, but for some they require more help and assistance – which is where edtech comes into a world of its own – offering individuals all the time they need to understand something new through an accessible platform that they are readily engaged with. The issue? Ensuring employers understand that one size does not fit all – and that e-learning can open the door to new opportunities that can not only fill the skill gap, but can also help build the capabilities of an existing workforce.
I believe technology and certain types of education must go hand in hand to ensure future human evolution. We now live in a world where there are more smart phone subscriptions than people, where the average attention span when searching a new website is 30 seconds, and where there is a constant hunger for pursuing the next best thing.
For edtech providers, this world presents real opportunity: to reach a readily engaged mass audience, to help others learn something new, and, most importantly, the opportunity to change the lives of those who would otherwise struggle to access some form of higher education.
“Technology in the hands of teachers has the power to change the world.”
—The World Literacy Foundation
Jazz Gandhum is CEO and Managing Director of e-Careers Limited, a UK-based edtech firm combining technology, education, and marketing to deliver affordable and accessible e-learning courses to some 7,000 students worldwide on a monthly basis. www.e-careers.com