“New technologies will revolutionise education, but it won’t uberise it.” This observation was made by Audrey Jarre and Svenia Busson, two HEC Paris students who launched a research project called Edtech World Tour. By studying methods in 5 continents and 8 countries, they gained valuable insights into the impact and adoption of digital in the education sector, the role of startups and their ecosystems. After completing their trip in the spring of 2016, they drew up a report, which we outlined below.
“Education is still a major issue and an area that has resisted globalisation: it’s a local issue and context is essential. There is no global solution for educational problems and Edtech adoption – or lack thereof – are influenced by cultural factors.” Audrey Jarre and Svenia Busson, EdTech World Tour in L’Étudiant
EdTech: tools, but not an end in itself
The two students saw this through the diversity of cultural backgrounds and good and bad educational practices they observed during their travels. Between the USA, India, Chili, Australia, Korea, the UK and New Zealand, access to education and technological maturity varies enormously, and digital technologies on the whole and EdTech in particular must be adapted accordingly through tailored solutions.
In the course of their research, encounters and observations, Svenia Busson and Audrey Jarre witnessed the way digital technologies are revolutionising education: “Schools are no longer the main venue for passing on knowledge,” the importance of implementing technological innovation, the flexibility that educational institutions need and, most of all, the crucial role teachers will always play, meaning constant Edtech training is essential.
The US: a specific, mature ecosystem
The US is a pioneer in digital technologies and adopting them for education: it’s no longer a question of whether or not to use digital for education but how to deploy best practices as widely as possible. Edtech innovations and their deployment are facilitated thanks to a substantial network of incubators, investors and non-profit organisations specialising in education.
Organisations such as EdSurge, for example, put Edtech startups in touch with teaching professionals and thus creates a virtuous circle in which products, potential and requirements can be assessed by both parties. EdSurge Concierge offers free assistance to primary and secondary schools for finding the right digital tools.
Education-specific crowdfunding is also becoming increasingly widespread. Public schools can thus use platforms such as DonorsChoose.org to fund digital education projects.
India: flexible and mobile learning
Whether it’s middle class families opting for private education or poor rural areas with no resources, one thing that’s common to education in India is a lack of infrastructure and connectivity to facilitate affordable access to education via digital (electricity, networks, Internet-enabled mobiles phones). The sheer cultural and linguistic diversity of the country (780 languages, including 23 official ones) is also a major challenge.
Where Edtech is concerned, adapting to the specific characteristics of each community, training teachers and providing affordable educational resources are essential in order to reduce social inequality. Among the notable initiatives observed during the EdTech World Tour were Megshala, a digital training fellowship for state-school teachers, Vahan, a mobile app to learn English, and the EdTech Edulgild startup accelerator.
To find out more about the EdTech World Tour:
Read the report: Edtech 2016: Global perspectives, Local insights