How will the pandemic affect the future of edtech?

Jessica van der Schalk
March 1, 2022

How will the pandemic affect the future of edtech?

Jessica van der Schalk
March 1, 2022

How will the pandemic affect the future of edtech?

The pandemic has ensured the implementation of edtech in school systems. Will pedagogical or technological aspects be prioritized?
Jessica van der Schalk
March 1, 2022
How will the pandemic affect the future of edtech?
Jessica van der Schalk
Maya Turolla
March 1, 2022
Design by local_doctor. © Shutterstock

During pandemic-related school closures, edtech proved a very effective means of continuing education when study supplies were available and teachers, students and caretakers could navigate them. The pandemic has hugely increased awareness about edtech and its possibilities. For policymakers and worldwide organizations (e.g. E.U., World Bank, OECD, U.N.), it changed the question of the implementation of edtech in school systems from whether to how. They are determined to improve the digital readiness of school systems worldwide so that they’ll be better prepared for a new crisis. What is more, they are motivated to get next generations ready for a more digitalized world, which can only be achieved if education is provided (partly) through technology.

The pandemic has not only increased awareness around edtech and its possibilities, concerns about deploying edtech have also deepened. Some of these concerns are of a practical nature, such as the so-called digital divide or privacy issues, others have more to do with pedagogy, such as the emotional poverty of distance learning and teachers’ lack of skills to deliver education digitally. Although research on the impact of hybrid/online learning due to the pandemic is ongoing, a study from NESET has already shown that student learning in Europe is expected to suffer a setback in primary and secondary education. Many learners (including high school students) are not mentally mature enough to take ownership of their learning process, which is required when students are studying at home. What is more, the pedagogical benefits of edtech, especially in primary and secondary schools were already questionable before the pandemic. For example, as many studies have shown, interactive whiteboards and iPads reduce reading and writing skills as well as the ability to understand and remember what is taught. The necessity of being crisis-ready, however, seems to be interpreted as a strong enough argument to implement edtech on a large scale nevertheless.

Burning questions:
  • Developing effective teaching methods has taken centuries; will we suffer worldwide learning loss now that edtech is being pushed forward even though the research on its effectiveness is still premature or, in some cases, in fact has proven its ineffectiveness?
  • What would be the long-term consequences on society of this learning loss?
  • Some types of education are still very low-tech (e.g. Waldorf schools): have their students fallen behind in tech-savviness while still achieving better learning results in other areas such as reading and writing?
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