What do you like about your role?
As the CEO of a technical company, my role allows me to get a bird’s eye view on the EdTech landscape and at the same time watch from up close how trends, ideas and concepts are being converted into actual software.
Share three predictions on the future of Edtech.
- EdTech will kill public education. On the one hand, EdTech is transforming the education landscape to an industry where many new companies are moving in. Their technology offers new tools, new media and even whole new school concepts that, step by step, will take over the role of traditional educators. On the other hand public educators struggle with innovation and fail to keep pace with technological developments. Most of them don’t have the (financial) capabilities to innovate by themselves. What will happen is that private companies sell their technology to public schools, gradually automating their processes. Once implemented, companies will have a competitive advantage to offer similar or even better education at a lower price using the same technological infrastructures that they before offered to the public educators.
- EdTech will facilitate a reverse digital divide. Computers and software can’t replace a face to face teacher. But in case a face to face teacher is not available, the computer can be of tremendous help in offering education to people around the globe that lack access to proper schools (or teachers). The downside of this is that it will also create elite education, where those who can afford it, will have education in a brick and mortar environment that is largely face to face, with access to a valuable network of people.
- Edtech will remove the distinction between education and labor. EdTech allows the latter to educate its future workforce independently. As employers move into the education sphere, we will see recruiting and specialisations at a substantially younger age in the lives of humans.
What technologies do you believe have the potential to transform the education industry?
I believe that developments in Data science and Artificial Intelligence, in combination with the recent attention for these developments will have a big impact on the education industry. Artificial intelligence is not a technology that is replacing humans per se. It is a technology that can augment both teacher and learner capabilities. Augmenting teachers will enable them to teach more students. Augmenting learners will enable them to learn in a more personalised way. As soon as these technologies will become mainstream as cloud services and industry standards emerge, they will act as enablers for a vast range of innovations. New products can be developed quicker and the quality will improve by leveraging these services. This will allow future companies to focus more on educational impact and less on technology itself.
Another promising technology is ‘blockchain’, as it can break the data silos of both schools and edtech providers. This will have a positive impact on topics such as micro-credentialing or student matching and will be a bigger force for democratizing education than MOOCs.
As we are celebrating out 5th anniversary of EdTechXEurope, we are looking at the key trends over the past 5 years in edtech. What would you say have been the key areas of change that are impacting edtech today? Anything unexpected that surprised you? Trends that were overhyped and never met their expected potential?
MOOCs have not revolutionized education in terms of the democratization it promised. Reality has caught up and main players are now asking money for their services to end users. However they do have an effect on micro credentialing. Players like Coursera, edX and Udemy are quickly becoming recognized brands allowing them to become a part of mainstream education programs. As big private universities found a way to use MOOCs to reinforce their own brands, the MOOC-consuming part of education - public education in particular - is facing the risks of the reverse digital divide.
Why is it important for all players in the edtech ecosystem to continuously connect, network and learn from each other?
As EdTech is rapidly changing the way we teach and learn, it is important to stay informed about developments. For instance what type of technology or solutions have a positive influence on education. At the same time we need to learn from examples that have not proven useful for teaching and learning. Especially the latter is important, as we have the responsibility to provide meaningful education for future generations. In this respect, the lack of criticism and the overly positive attitude towards technological solutions in education poses the risk of EdTech losing it’s credibility and validity as a serious academic endeavour.
When you think about joining EdTechXEurope this year, what are you looking forward to? What makes you excited about our event in London?
As we find ourselves in the era of both mobile and personalised learning, at EDTechXEurope we want to look at the next frontier of education. This is where Neuroscience meets education. I hope to see many ideas, products and companies that offer technologies that connect these two worlds, for example by emotion detection via camera’s and wearables.
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