Online learning has been around for years, but Susan Manning, Ed. D, Chief Success Strategist for Credly, points out that the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic uncovered gaps in the EdTech software market.
Manning shares answers to questions software developers have about the EdTech space, its pain points, and opportunities for developers to grow their businesses.
What were the biggest challenges educators faced in 2020 with EdTech software?
Manning: One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic was a lack of training on different remote learning tools beforehand. There was a significant knowledge gap in how to use various EdTech software because most educators were still focused on traditional teaching methods. When those went out the door last year, educators had to quickly adapt without fully understanding how to incorporate these tools into their teaching.
Moving forward, EdTech has to have a pedagogical value. Products need to be developed in collaboration with faculty and instructional designers to ensure they are solving a problem and not creating one.
Were the tools that educators needed available?
Manning: The tools educators needed to successfully execute remote learning were available. The problem was educators weren’t sure how to implement them into their strategy. The year 2020 was challenging because educators had to take an exclusively online approach for the very first time.
Now, as online learning is more widely adopted, a big focus will be on customizable solutions. Each educator must be able to structure their technology to best serve their specific needs.
Did widespread use highlight any issues with user experience, either from the educator or learner perspective?
Manning: We’ve all heard horror stories about Zoom classrooms and remote test-taking. Like anything, the kinks of using online learning technology will be worked out over time. For some educators, 2020 was the first year they had used some tools in their lesson plans. As it continues to play a critical role in the future of education, educators and learners alike will become more comfortable with using EdTech.
What are the top opportunities for EdTech software developers over the next few years?
Manning: Online learning isn’t going away. In the next few years, educators will have an opportunity to restructure their teaching models with online learning at its core. Instead, educators will combine traditional classroom outcomes with certificates, stackable credentials and digital badges to help their students develop. Take Ormond College, for example; the institution started offering digital credentials to help their students prepare to enter the workforce.
What is the outlook for distance learning – do you see it continuing more so than it did before the pandemic?
Manning: The pandemic only accelerated the use of online learning. Now, it will be a critical part of education plans moving forward. As educators prepare to incorporate more online learning efforts into their curriculum, we’ll see investment in technology, training and flexibility that will help educators engage with their students in new ways.