Digital transformation is disrupting every industry, and education is no exception. Global investment in edtech companies is increasing rapidly, with some reports predicting a total of $252 billion in investments by 2020. Investors aren't the only people recognizing the importance of technology for education. Educators and students are flocking to solutions that enhance their experience while reducing the high price associated with higher ed.
In fact, research shows that 70% of students want their universities to update their digital options, with 44% of the same group saying they'd be happier with their university experience if they could engage with more digital resources. With an obvious demand from students for better digital solutions, organizations that don't engage with the latest in technology may struggle to engage with new students and grow.
The following are some of the top ways educators and institutions can make quick changes to improve their edtech strategy and better connect with a new generation of highly discerning digital natives.
While some people thought that eBooks would drive traditional textbooks out of universities, they are still the primary information resource for college classes. One reason digital has failed to overtake print is that early entrants failed to consider the needs of professors and teachers. "We see the educator continuing to be the catalyst or accelerant at the heart of that process. So, technology should focus on helping the instructor, leveraging their knowledge, skill, and dedication, rather than simply seeking to automate them away." shared Alastair Adam, Co-CEO of digital textbook publisher FlatWorld. That's why a number of innovative companies are working to bridge the gap between the publishing world and the classroom.
Despite the fact that textbooks are still prevalent in most classrooms, publishers have been offering fewer titles and regularly increasing the price of new editions. A new approach is necessary to help make textbooks affordable, especially when education costs are rising everywhere else. Adam explains, "Trying to solve the problem of high priced textbooks by focusing only on new technology is the equivalent of trying to solve the problem of expensive airfares by putting all your resources into developing flying cars. We think the better approach is to break down the price barrier to make textbooks accessible to all students." Cheaper and more digitally integrated textbooks will result in an increase in student success.
MOOC's Making Waves
The advent of massive open online courses, commonly known as MOOCs, represents a major shift in thinking for institutions. In the past information regarding technical expertise and industry knowledge was treated as exclusive and proprietary to the institution.
More and more universities, however, are recognizing that access to information is no longer their main value proposition. Instead, they give away information freely and emphasize the importance of their expertise. The guidance they can provide in the learning process remains their main competitive advantage. That's why the biggest and most popular MOOC's originate at traditional universities like Harvard and MIT. It is an indication that they are unlikely to replace these institutions, but rather become a part of their overall service offerings.
A study conducted by Hanover Research found that 87% of surveyed college students said analytics on their performance had a positive influence on their learning. Giving students access to real performance data that goes deeper than a grade can help them self-diagnose gaps in knowledge and seek out the right resources and support to close them.
Similarly, educators can recognize problems sooner, and partner students with learning tools that can help them avoid falling behind. Analytics like this are dependent on integrated systems that can compile data from varied sources like homework and tests. 'Online grading' solutions, while helpful for automating, fall short of providing helpful data insights for students. Institutions will need to take partners with organizations that offer full-service analytics to increase student performance.
Driving Change for Education
It should be noted that no education technology has demonstrated the ability to completely change the market. Though the industry has undergone a significant amount of change due to technology, it remains largely the same as it has been for decades. Companies wanting to drive real change in the industry should consider how to partner with educators to providing sensible solutions rather than attempting to reinvent existing norms.
When it comes to assessing return on investment, it's important to look at student outcomes and benefits to the institution. For example, 45% of students who have access to good digital tools said they'd be more willing to recommend their university to others. Engaging with digital tools can help universities stay competitive, and they can also upgrade the performance of each student, which should be the ultimate goal of any edtech solution.