Ed Tech has witnessed a turbulent few years. The pandemic brought unprecedented changes to education, causing schools to scramble for technology that enables remote learning. Now the pandemic is retreating comfortably into the distance, it seems that Ed Tech is entering a new era – one that prioritizes features and quality, rather than simply meeting the base needs of the classroom.
‘Digitalised classrooms’ were accelerated by the pandemic, but were always going to be an outcome of society’s increasing reliance on technology. Ahead of our imminent updates on Ed Tech Voice, we sat down with Melanie Tagg, Education Technology analyst here at Futuresource Consulting, to discuss what comes next for the sector.
A positive trend we’re witnessing across the board is that spending on classroom tools is on the up. Teachers are evidently keen to further optimise student learning – particularly given the losses that occurred as a result of Covid-19. Districts have predicted that average spending levels will reach $396,000 by the end of 2022, an uptick from the previous year.
Learning Management Systems represent another strong area of investment. They’re well established as the leading classroom tool across all regions, and we don't see this changing anytime soon. Our research shows that 1 in 2 have already adopted an LMS, and a further 37% expect to invest in a system in the next few years.
Teachers feel they spend a lot of time doing admin, which was a prominent bugbear. Teachers want to make administrative tasks more efficient and subsequently maximise the time spent helping children learn. Currently, there are many different suites and software which make operations challenging.
If technology can address these issues, it could make a real impact in the classroom. Lots of opportunities are emerging for vendors in this space, with fully integrated software being a key part of this.
As a result of these pain points, we’re seeing a widespread trend to invest in software. SIS software is the most common system, with 8/10 of those surveyed using this technology. This means there’s some considerable room for growth in this area, and what’s encouraging is that, on the admin side, users are mostly satisfied with the software used.
Another area schools are investing heavily in is AI and VR. Adaptive learning software – tools that adapt a lesson to an individual based on previous inputs – are becoming increasingly significant. Our research showed that almost half of all respondents are planning to adopt this technology in the future.
Digital assessment tools are currently quite low, but firmly on the increase. It’s emerging as an area of greater importance, with the pandemic helping to underscore its value. Tools that allow students to keep their own devices and block out everything other than the program needed to sit the exam will see greater adoption in the coming years.
The pandemic has become less of an issue at the tail end of 2022, with most schools having re-established in-person learning. But there’s still a significant communication gap between vendors and schools. In the US, those making decisions over ed tech investments do not commonly work within individual schools, but oversee entire districts. These districts can contain thousands of schools, which makes it difficult for providers to establish the specific technology needs of a given institution. Vendors then face the difficulty of not being as informed as teachers.
It’s a hugely important time for Ed Tech. The industry has shown it can withstand the uncertainty of the pandemic and adapt to the needs of teachers. Although there’s still the strain of the looming recession, education providers are keen to invest in tools that improve classroom efficiency and provide more personalised learning experiences.
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