What Is Education Technology (Edtech) and How Does It Work?

In this article, we will walk through exactly what is education technology or EdTech, and how you can categorize different types of EdTech experiences, as well as how to facilitate learning with technology, choosing career and more. So let’s begin.

What is edtech or Education Technology?

This is a complicated question to answer because EdTech can mean so many different things. Basically, it involves a wide range of things like learning management systems (LMS), various digital tools and software, ICT technology and even tech infrastructure in a school.

Yes, I know, that’s a wide range of technology being used in education. For simplicity, let’s use my favorite definition, which is “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance, by the creation, use and management of specific technology based processes and resources”.

Learning Theories

As mentioned, EdTech can involve a wide range of learning experiences that integrate technology. A great way to categorize EdTech learning experiences is by identifying the learning theory behind the whole experience. Learning theories are the ideas that attempt to describe how humans learn.

You can categorize these EdTech learning experiences through 3 broad theories, being;

  • Behaviorism;
  • Cognitivism, and;
  • Constructivism.

Each of these theories provide different perspectives on teaching and learning.

Many applications and online platforms break down learning into smaller sections. Each of these sections require students to respond to stimuli and then receive immediate feedback.

On many of these platforms, you can use education software to consume expert content on just about any topic, you can watch videos on that topic and then often you can do some exercises as well.

Digital multimedia visual learning is learning through visuals that follow perception principles to help students better focus on important information. Students learn based on hearing and digital multimedia is digital content that uses multiple mediums to communicate information and relevant content.

EdTech Usage

The use of EdTech can look different, depending on the learning theory behind it. However, at the same time all applications of EdTech should facilitate learning in one shape or form.

Project-based learning provides students with one cohesive learning experience. Often known by the initials, PBL, it’s a well known method, where the students learn lessons through engaging in real-world, personally meaningful classes and projects.

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Project Based Learning Example

Let’s take a look at an example of PBL. In this, fourth graders were asked the following challenging question; How will you design a mechanical float for a festival? This project provided students with an authentic context involving real-world tasks and tools.

The students went through sustained inquiry of asking questions, investigating and finding the resources needed to gain crucial knowledge and skills from multiple subject areas, world language, social studies, science and engineering and they then applied what they learned to producing mechanical float models that were displayed publicly for an audience beyond their own class.

A realistic hands-on learning environment also provides opportunities for complex problem-solving and collaborative learning that involves social negotiation. Students using digital game-based learning tools that incorporate drill and practice to increase their knowledge in the required subject areas of the project.

Students using computer assisted instructions that will then provide explanations on different content topics and a quiz at the end with immediate responses. Teachers are also using presentation tools like Apple’s Keynote to easily present information with clarity through the use of visual learning principles.

Teachers using digital multimedia tools like flipgrid to present information through text photos and interactive whiteboards to show multiple representations of content. However, it is very important to note that the use of EdTech can also fall under multiple learning theories.

So how do the ISTE standards fit in this learning experience? Well, while students are using various applications and software to set and achieve learning goals, they demonstrate their learning through the construction of their festival float and use their understanding of concepts of tech operations, to program their microcontroller and its components.

Students in this example also used online resources to research and curate crucial information to answer the project’s question. They went through the design process to generate ideas, develop prototypes and test and refine them.

They had to also incorporate aspects of saving and budgeting ideas in what the project involved. They then also used their understanding of algorithmic thinking, to create code that automated their festival floats.

So there you have it! We discussed the definition of EdTech, spoke about practical applications and discussed various processes and approaches.

Now there is a focus in recent years to use EdTech to facilitate transformative learning and how project-based learning is a teaching approach that complements effective technology integration into learning experiences like digital marketing, programming, AI, data analysis.

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