Education-focused and traditional tech companies are investing significant resources into new technologies that will revolutionize education from the way schools are run to the way teachers teach and students learn. These investments will touch every student in every classroom, and it is the responsibility of the edtech industry to provide the same level of innovation and technological advances to the education sector that other industries have enjoyed. Our students and our future depend on it.
"The age of cookie-cutter curricula is close to its end and in the future most children may have access to personalized education strategies"
This topic was at the front of everyone’s minds at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio. Over the course of three days, I had the opportunity to learn about and tryout amazing new tools designed to improve student learning. I saw how edtech can encourage students to code their own games with the help of Sphero. I saw how students can propel their imaginations and practice math skills while building their own fantasy worlds through the work of Cignition. There are so many new, impressive tools available to catalyze learning.
But tools are only as effective as the craftsmen who wield them. While these innovative products and programs engage students’ minds in new and effective ways, educators—and those who listen to them—understand that no machine or program can replace the empathy, creativity, and passion that teachers bring to the classroom every day. That’s why, unlike in some other industries, teachers will always remain at the center of education. Therefore, rather than providing supplemental activities that students can enjoy while a teacher wades through busy-work, technology’s most important role must be to provide a new framework to empower and enhance the efforts of teachers.
We had this imperative in mind when we developed the new, optimized Unified Classroom platform. With this updated solution, we bring teachers, students and parents into the Classroom of Tomorrow. The functionality allows a myriad of formerly time-consuming endeavors to take place in a single seamless system. All of the collaborators in a child’s education can now track performance in real time. Parents can see what topics they can spend time on at home, and teachers can identify the most effective practices to implement for their students.
Nevertheless, the real magic of the Unified Classroom lies in what it makes possible–constant collaboration between all those who are invested in student success to be informed and engaged about a student’s educational journey. If a village raises a child, the Unified Classroom is the town square where all news, positive and challenging, can be shared and acted upon. We believe that the open ecosystem of the Unified Classroom will spark a revolution of sharing innovative lesson plans, cutting-edge educational theories and best parenting practices that will collectively push the global education system to the next level.
So much is already possible on the Unified Classroom platform. It facilitates cooperation between teachers, so that the accumulated knowledge of educational professionals can be brought to bear for all students. Teachers can use other classrooms as data labs, analyzing the best lesson plans and instantly downloading them and introducing them in their own classrooms. Over time, this will mean that every lesson plan is the result of a refined, tailor-made process targeted for its students. The age of cookie-cutter curricula is close to its end and in the future most children may have access to personalized education strategies.
Today, many technologies found in our children’s schools are siloed. Teachers, administrators, and parents work across multiple systems that don’t talk to each other. This makes data entry cumbersome and the insights gleaned from student data are often incomplete or impossible to extract. Paradoxically, as technology has taken an even greater role in our schools and classrooms, it has in some cases become more burdensome. An important element of our solution is simplification, untying the knots that previous education technologies have created so that teachers can work towards positive outcomes.
That means that not only does the best education technology add its own value to the classroom, it also unleashes every teacher’s potential to focus on personalized learning experiences for all their students. Gadgets and games are important parts of the future of education. It is essential that we use these to instill a love of learning in our children. But when technology can free up a teacher’s time to spend on next-level instruction and engaging all stakeholders in a child’s education progress, the impact will last a lifetime and, on a larger scale across millions of children, will change the future.
Advances in artificial intelligence and innovative education technology platforms will expand the possibilities of individual and self-directed learning, but teachers will always be the cornerstone of every successful classroom. That’s why we will continue to add tools to the tool belt, providing products that maximize every teacher’s ability to reach their students and set them on a course for a fulfilling education–and in doing so, open the door to endless possibilities.