The education technology industry was growing fast even before COVID-19 came along. In 2019 global EdTech investments reached US$18.66 billion, with a constant influx of new tools and technologies aimed at making learning easier and more accessible.
The pandemic, of course, changed everything. With millions of students around the world suddenly forced to study from home, technology was no longer just a useful accompaniment to education — it was an essential component of learning.
Although it has been an incredibly stressful and challenging period for everyone involved in education, COVID-19 has also acted as a catalyst, forcing EdTech as an industry to evolve faster than it would have otherwise. During this time, we’ve seen some incredible advancements and innovations.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways COVID accelerated the EdTech industry and drove innovation.
How COVID accelerated EdTech
1. Revolution in distance learning
“Distance learning” before 2020 was something of a niche concept. It was useful for certain people in certain situations, but it wasn’t really a mainstream learning modality. When COVID-19 broke out across the world, that changed.
Nearly 93% of people with school-age children at home reported their children engaged in some form of “distance learning” during the pandemic. With schools closed, students had no choice but to rely on software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, connecting with teachers and classmates entirely digitally.
This shift brought a slew of innovations and improvements to the way we teach and learn. Now, students can easily tune into class when schools are closed or they need to stay home. It’s easier than ever for students to engage in coursework outside of the traditional school day hours. And there is a growing comfort among both students and teachers alike with online learning platforms - many schools are continuing to use them even after students have returned to the classroom.
2. The rise of hybrid learning
The pandemic taught us that education doesn’t have to be confined to a traditional classroom environment. It’s possible to blend in-classroom learning with digital study, and this practice looks set to continue long after the pandemic is history.
Wang Tao, Vice President of Tencent Cloud and Vice President of Tencent Education, says, “I believe that the integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and that online education will eventually become an integral component of school education.”
Hybrid learning has many benefits. It allows learners to be more flexible with their study time, studying at home and even on public transport to and from school. A hybrid model also helps students access more materials and resources than they might have access to at school — especially for students attending smaller or more rural schools.
3. New models of learning
Over the last year or so, we’ve seen a gradual shift away from traditional, rigidly structured learning anchored in the classroom. In many cases, these outdated models have been replaced by more flexible and on-demand approaches to learning.
One example is the country of Argentina. The government installed an online learning portal with on-demand materials, pre-recorded lessons, and even virtual reality learning experiences. Students are able to access all this from home, according to their own schedule, and are not constrained by school hours and teacher availability.
It’s likely that this trend will continue. At Yup, we’re excited to offer supplemental support for students so they can learn effectively both in and out of the classroom with the help of expert 1:1 tutoring.
4. More awareness and more fairness
One of the negative impacts of COVID-19 on education was the way it exacerbated the existing gaps between low-income students and those from more privileged backgrounds, which we've discussed in prior blog posts. Suddenly the world of education was split into those who could easily access the internet and chat software from home, and those who couldn’t. Those who had the space and privacy to study effectively from home, and those who lacked it.
The good news is that COVID also helped highlight these inequities and further advance a conversation on how we could use technology to address them. At Yup, we believe technology can be a powerful tool to help close these gaps and help disadvantaged students learn more effectively — for example by supplementing their existing learning with apps like ours.
The pandemic has been an incredibly difficult time for almost everyone. Education has changed beyond recognition, and we’ll never go back to the pre-COVID ways of doing things. However, all the challenges have also brought opportunities.
One lasting legacy of the pandemic will be a completely new way of looking at education, driven by countless new tools and technologies, and aimed at giving every student from every background the ability to learn effectively and with more autonomy than ever before.
If you are interested in the ways Yup can be used inside and outside the classroom to facilitate productive struggle, check out our Yup for teachers or administrators pages, or contact email@example.com to learn more about bringing Yup to your school or district.