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September 5, 2019

Education Technology – A Component Not a Cure All – Part 2

MHT Partners  | Education Investment Bank

As a continuum to our last blog, we will discuss how to effectively implement education technology to spark growth in academic achievement, close the digital learning gap and talk about possible improvements that can ignite future leaders. The good news is that solutions aren’t far reaching. In fact, many have already been identified but simply need to be solidified.

Educators and administrators agree that education technology should enhance, but not dominate, the classroom. Students should not feel overwhelmed or deterred by the challenges of technology, but rather empowered due to unlimited access to personalized, digital content. Nevertheless, the potential misuse of technology can lead to a wide discrepancy between potential and actual effectiveness. More than 90% of teachers report they rely on their own experience and instinct to guide the way they utilize and teach technology in their classrooms(1). While experience is usually the ultimate advantage, in a world that is becoming more technological, experience only goes so far. That said, educators must actively seek to effectively implement education technology into their classrooms and utilize academic research to best cater to the needs of all students. School district focus should be to allocate adequate time and money towards professional development programs that help teachers evolve and improve their teaching techniques in harmony with advancing education technology. Once educators learn how to use technology to successfully tailor learning, we expect to see optimism meet opportunity.

The digital learning gap is another underlying problem that has been identified but has yet to be solved. This gap is caused by differences in how children access and use technology in and out of school to improve their learning opportunity and outcomes(2). While some students have grown up in technology-enabled schools and households that support this system, others have not. This makes adapting to new technology in classrooms less favorable for certain students, widening the digital learning gap. There are two things, in addition to professional development programs, that must be done to shrink this gap and increase academic achievement:

  1. Increase access, both at school and at home. Even with 45 million students having access to high-speed internet at school, there are still 2.3 million students who do not. In addition, 15% of U.S. households with school-aged children do not have a high-speed internet connection at home(2).
  2. Increase participation2. Educators and schools must constantly teach and instill the importance of education technology participation. Approximately 11% of households do not use internet, with the majority of these making below $30,000 a year or living in rural areas(2). Our schools must acknowledge this reality and help students and their families realize the importance of technology and internet access to their futures.

Nevertheless, the potential of the digital classroom is near break through. More than 75% of teachers, students, and parents believe tailored learning utilizing technology is a better way of learning than the traditional, whole group, lecture-style classroom(1). This coupled with the incessant development/creation of digital content and devices, equates to a wide window of opportunity. MHT Partners, a leading education investment bank, knows that both financial sponsors and strategic buyers are making it a priority to invest in education technology companies, with $962 million raised over 65 deals in the first half of 2019 compared to $750 million across 62 deals in the first six months of 2018(3). The industry is booming, and there’s no indication of it slowing down.

[1] https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-08-06-hype-hope-and-humblepie-for-predictions-about-digital-learning
[2] https://digitalpromise.org/2019/01/09/closing-the-digital-learning-gap/
[3] https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-08-07-us-edtech-funding-already-nears-1-billion-in-first-half-of-2019

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