A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a panel discussion on trends in Education Technology. The panel was comprised of participants from four different companies focused on different aspects of technology-mediated instruction, including one using compression technology to make streaming videos accessible in low-bandwidth areas, one that created a tool to help teachers analyze students’ lecture notes to see what they’ve learned, one retrofitting old hardware with a new operating system to extend the life of classroom-based computers, and, obviously, Voxy, a platform to offer scalable, individualized, needs-based English instruction to learners all over the world.
With such varied perspectives, our conversation covered a lot of ground, but two central themes emerged:
1) The best educational products are designed to solve real problems. Technology for technology’s sake might be cool, but it doesn’t have much of a shelf life. When software or hardware is offered because it can help improve outcomes or access or the overall educational experience, it is far more likely to succeed. Teachers and students both want to use tools that will help them, and they are quick to abandon products that are difficult to use or don’t demonstrate early on that they are helping.
2) Institutions are increasingly focused on outcomes. Developers need to consider how they are going to measure both engagement and learning, and then report those outcomes to their stakeholders. A tool that can’t demonstrate its effectiveness is not a tool that will last long.
If you’d like to see the whole panel discussion, it’s available on YouTube. I hope you enjoy!