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.