As Ed-tech is becoming the next industry to watch in the Nordics, with success stories like Kahoot, DigiExam, and Funzi. We take a look at 3 major trends in the ed-tech world.
- Adult education
Ed-tech is often thought about in terms of “gamified” learning tools like Duolingo, but the real face of adult education is in the corporate world, for continuous, lifelong learning.
“Obviously, you can sell to schools and make a living off it, but in the Nordics, there is much more money on the corporate side. That is the way things are moving in our society,” explains Hege Tollerud of the Oslo EdTech Cluster. “Companies are thinking about how they can use education tools to make sure their staff are on top of what they need to learn.”
Gone are the days when one would leave the workplace, get an MA, and return to the field. Now, companies are turning towards ed-tech to train their workforce themselves.
“And ed-tech tools that can be used for this in the workplace, well, that is a huge market,” says Hege.
“There is a strong need for ed-tech in larger businesses and SMEs, because you don’t make products anymore, you are a service provider. Service is competence. If you don’t have the right competences, you can’t sell anything.”
She notes that as 80-90% of formal learning now takes place under the direction of an employer, the market for adult education tools will grow exponentially.
- Learning management systems
Learning management systems are often overlooked by the general public, but are crucial to the continued development of the classroom. Viktor Sebes, founder of EdQu, an education management tool from Sweden, explains, “Education management…is software the supports teachers, principals, and administrators in their everyday business. It can be, for example, class attendance, or in our case, a system to manage the progress of students, individually or in tailor-made groups.”
Tools like EdQu seek to better integrate computers into the learning experience of students and the teaching work of teachers, by digitizing and streamlining frictions in the learning and administration process. For the students, this can make classroom time more effective.
EdQu, for example, gives students “relevant and effective work and as-soon-as-possible feedback on the work. Insecurity regarding ‘how am i doing?’ has a proven negative effect on learning,” says Viktor.
On the administrative time, learning management systems free up more time to spend with students.
Geir Sand Nilsen of Edtech Foundry, a Norwegian education management system that puts students’ course-related communications in a single place and automates best-practice pedagogy with intelligent bots,believes these are the tools that will truly change the way knowledge is shared.
“We are working our ass off to improve the teacher’s ability to stimulate students to collaborate, ignite their playfulness and make them believe they can achieve anything they want,” he says.
“The whole time issue – time for teachers is always limited, and when they have good systems for administration, teaching, and planning, it frees up time for the teacher to spend with student.”
- Adaptive learning tools
The most hyped companies within ed-tech fall under adaptive learning tools. Adaptive learning tools help teachers individualize education for students, and often have a strong interactive element.
As schools look to digitize their traditional infrastructures to be more agile, adaptive learning tools are pushing the boundaries of student engagement and even the function of a classroom.
Founder Hanna Kristín Skaftadóttir, of Icelandic ed-tech company Mimi Creations, has developed an adaptive learning tool that animates learning material for toddlers, to enhance and improve the development of speech and communication.
She notes that adaptive learning tools form an important building block in increasing diversity within education.
“I particularly like how schools are ever more being less controlled by the government, and more and more individuals and companies see the great value of education of children…and actually celebrate the diversity of children and how to best enhance that by offering different approaches to learning.”
She feels that the current trend within ed-tech of “prospering and fostering the individualism of students” is a huge leap in making education better worldwide.
Adaptive learning includes everything from intelligent tutoring systems to adaptive testing, and can be especially valuable for self-directed learning. Probably the best known examples of adaptive learning are educational computer games.
As adaptive learning schools do not need to stay within the classroom, they can serve a huge variety of students. For example, new refugees to Europe seeking to learn the languages of their new homelands can greatly benefit from access to adaptive learning tools.