If you’re an ISV that doesn’t develop Ed Tech applications related to curriculum, you may think the education vertical market doesn’t hold any opportunity for you. If you look at a school system or university more like businesses in other vertical markets you serve, however, you may see many opportunities.
Take a look at the following examples of how emerging technologies are making their mark on education, but also how they can make an impact on the business of running a school.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
VR puts users inside a virtual world. AR overlays virtual objects in the user’s world. It’s easy to see how these applications can aid learning. The possibilities are only limited by the places students would want to go or things they’d like to see — to experience life in another country or back in history, to travel inside a volcano or into space, or examine organs inside a human body.
But VR and AR also have practical applications for schools. Teachers’ time is limited and often, unfortunately, leaves little room for addressing multiple learning styles within a classroom. AR or VR can enhance learning for students who learn better by seeing, interacting, or (virtually) doing so they can excel along with students who learn from more traditional classes where lessons are spoken or read. This can improve outcomes without hiring additional staff. In universities, medical schools or trade schools, VR and AR can be a cost-effective, practical way to provide “hands-on” training.
You may immediately picture robot teachers, but AI has more practical applications in education. Educators can use AI to analyze data for insights into student progress or the effectiveness of teaching tools. In addition, virtual assistants powered by AI can handle some of the more mundane tasks during the day to allow educators to focus on students and outcomes. It may also equip schools with better assistive tools for students with disabilities.
A blockchain is a distributed database that’s hosted by multiple computers and that’s continuously shared and synced. All users’ identities are validated and a user can’t modify a record without the other participants knowing it. Blockchain may have value in the classroom for instruction and test-taking, but blockchain is a prime choice for managing diplomas, certificates, and grades. It has the potential to save hours of time answering requests from prospective employers and other authorized parties to confirm credentials —and it can also eliminate the problem of false credentials.
Internet of Things technology connects devices, sensors, people, places, and other things to create a connected network that shares data and supports visibility and automation. IoT can support interactive, personalized learning, enabling individual students to access what they need, whether it’s remedial help or enrichment.
It seems that the most intriguing benefits of IoT for a school district or university campus, however, is enabling a smart school environment. A connected system can monitor and maintain resources, conserve energy, secure a school or campus with automated locks and other physical security measures, validate student ID, and even provide real-time visibility into attendance and student whereabouts.
A Word about Securing Technology for Education
The applications you develop for education need to have built-in security. The education vertical is a target for cyber attack. In March, hackers attacked more than 144 universities in the US, along with 176 schools in other countries and 47 private companies to steal 3 TB of intellectual property valued at about $3 billion. The hackers used spear phishing to entice university officials to click on links or enter information. The security solutions you develop or build into your applications for education need to focus on ways to keep IP, student privacy, and school networks safe.
Solve a Problem, Show ROI
You may be hesitant to approach prospects in the education vertical due to concerns over budgets, the need for board approval, or competition. But, as CompTIA points out, schools are still looking for the benefits technology has to offer. Study your target audience and its pain points and offer solutions that will show quick ROI — measured in dollars and cents or in better outcomes for students.
Your solution may not help kids master geometry, but it may be just what the school needs to solve an administrative problem, automate day-to-day processes, or improve security. What can your ISV offer the education vertical?