EdTech Explained

EdTech, or "educational technology" is the use of tools for the process of learning. These tools can include the numerous types of media that are used to deliver text and written messages, audio recordings, visual recordings, images, animations, streaming videos, computer based learning, live over the internet instruction, extranet learning, satellite TV and the use of educational software. EdTech can happen inside of or outside of classrooms, at any time and in any place. The majority of today's EdTech involves the use of a wireless internet connection and an electronic device such as a smartphone, iPad, tablet or a laptop or desktop computer.

EdTech allows for one student or one million to learn and take the same coursework as each other. On the other hand, asynchronous learning is also a part of EdTech and allows for students to pace themselves while learning new information. EdTech encompasses many domains of the educational process. Its basic principles include the creation of collaborative learning environments in which peers help to coach, tutor, explain and encourage one another. Another basic is linear learning, which allows students to progress from beginner level knowledge to intermediate and then advanced learning of subject material. All of these can be used to augment in person teaching with a teacher, professor or another type of instructor. The learning environments in EdTech can be singular or involve multiple learners at the same or different paces throughout a block of content.

EdTech also puts into practice proven teaching principles by using technology. These aspects of education include cognitivism, which uses technology to challenge the memories of students; constructivism, which allows educators to use technology in order to make sure that a student's information, work and assignments are appropriately leveled and include problem based learning; and social constructivism, which is the use of technology that allows students to delve into real world scenarios and test their problem solving skills, team work, communication and collaborating abilities.

All of these tools come together to further the learning process. For example, a student with advanced mathematics skills who attends a rural high school without enough students to offer an in-person calculus class could attend their classes through live audio and recordings. An interactive forum would allow the student to ask the teacher questions. The course's learning management system would allow the student to take quizzes and exams and to turn in homework. The management system would allow the outside teacher as well as the teachers at the student's home school to see progress and to provide instant feedback and assessment of the student's progress.

EdTech is not a new innovation. For thousands of years, teachers have been devising ways to get their students to understand concepts through other means than just words. From the first rolls of papyrus to the abacus, dice, electronic calculators, personal computers and today's powerful handheld tablets and other electronic devices, EdTech has been with us over millennia. Only the name "EdTech" is new.

EdTech through History

Throughout history, many different tools and technologies have been used to enhance and further the education of students. In the earliest days, simple objects were used for counting and performing mathematics. Once rolls of papyrus were created in ancient Egypt, educators and students were able to record information and preserve it for future reference, creating the first libraries and storage depots of information. The abacus was also developed as a tool for counting and performing more complex mathematical operations.

The discovery of chalk and the creation of paints that allow the markings to easily be seen, applied and removed allowed teachers to educate a group of students all at once and gave students the opportunity to practice their skills and coach one another. The electronic age brought with it the use of slides, projectors and magnifiers to show the happenings of cells under a microscope or for the attachment of graphing calculators so that students could see math happening in real time.

All of these tools have allowed for successes to take place in the education of students. People with disabilities can use technology such as text to voice software that allows them to type words as the machine reads them aloud. Large touch screens allow students with mobility difficulties to draw, point and click with a computer mouse. Adult students with families or full time employment can use EdTech to further their education and gain new skills on their own schedules. An adult who left high school to raise a family and never thought that a college education would be possible can use EdTech to achieve those dreams.

EdTech Today

Today's EdTech makes use of new technologies as they are released. The incorporation of gamification, the use of big data and personalization of the experience are what EdTech is trending toward today. Technology continues to play a vital role in facilitating learning and teaching. From m-learning, or mobile learning, to e-learning, or electronic learning, technology is at the center of EdTech. Distance e-learning programs allow students to participate in an educational program from afar, without ever being in the same physical location as the other students or the instructor.

Blended e-learning programs offer a mixture of in-class learning and independent learning outside of the classroom, with occasional tutoring, discussions and peer to peer interactions. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, have inspired a new generation of learners who might not have otherwise reengaged with the educational system. Large universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford have developed popular courses that are free to the public, require no application and can be accessed at any time. Nearly any sort of electronic device and media can be used in EdTech teaching and learning.

K to 12 schools, colleges, universities and corporations may use smart boards, LCD projection screens, and smart pens for group courses while handing out iPads or smart watches for individual learning. Students, parents and teachers can keep up with their learning at home, while taking a summer road trip or on a tour of the world. So long as there is an internet connection, learning and educating can take place.

EdTech is suitable for every facet of the educational experience and system. This is true for learners and educators alike. Many communities and educational systems have gotten on board by providing free WiFi so that anyone can learn at any time.

Libraries encourage patrons to come in and use the computers for learning activities. K to 12, schools and universities are handing out iPads already outfitted with fantastic learning apps and bookmarked educational websites. Learning can continue at home and at work with all of these handy devices. Even preschools and senior citizens' centers are making use of EdTech to keep young and older minds alike active and fresh with ideas.

Reading this entire guide about EdTech will help you to gain a greater understanding of what this educational development is all about. After reading the material, you will realize how EdTech is already a part of your life and the lives of your children, family, colleagues, employers, friends and neighbors. You will gain an insight about how your child's educational experience is changing and how it is different compared to the schooling that you experienced.

By reading the guide as a whole, you will see how all the different facets of EdTech and its varied groups of users are growing and benefiting from its use. You will also see how the entire process fits together and covers the entire spectrum of education and learning.