5 EdTech Trends that are Changing the Game

By Sean Oakes from Backpack Interactive

As much as we’d all like to be “post-pandemic,” reality says otherwise. Teachers understand this better than most, too. They’re more savvy than ever about how to use EdTech in and out of the classroom, and their attitudes about how to use learning technology have permanently changed.

The most innovative trends in educational technology from clients and industry leaders reflect this new reality. Whether brands are introducing content platforms for teachers or supporting students’ SEL growth with multi-modal responses, flexibility is the name of the game.

Here are five EdTech trends of 2022 — and how you can address them in your current learning tools.

Customizable platforms for sequencing courses and educational content aren’t new. But we are seeing a rise in consumer-friendly platforms designed specifically for teachers.

Sites like Skillshare and Teachers Pay Teachers all make it easy for educators to create content and monetize it for a wider audience. By minimizing the amount of technical expertise teachers need to become content creators, these platforms are an innovative EdTech trend to keep your eye on.

How to work with this trend: Moving into community-generated content takes a major commitment. The best way to start? Consider how you can provide a platform for rising education stars in a way that’s consistent with your brand.

Since industry-wide conversations about content sharing for teachers have already started, the trick will be to identify how you can develop your community and focus its impact. Maybe that’s by creating a moderated video channel on YouTube or sponsoring content for your favorite teacher-influencer. The possibilities are endless.

Just remember: designing a bigger solution, like a branded content-sharing platform, takes more investment. But it could also potentially yield interesting user insights for your own EdTech products!

When classrooms returned to in-person learning in 2021, teachers had to confront the serious toll virtual learning took on students throughout the pandemic. In addition to designing interventions for students who have IEPs, they had to address uneven learning loss within their entire classroom.

Popular intervention tools like Read180 and Math180 represent a way to tackle learning loss for students who struggled with virtual learning. By breaking down concepts and helping students review them, tools like this will likely have wider classroom use in the coming years.

How to work with this trend: Even though most K-12 schools are back to in-person learning, we’re not in a “post-pandemic” learning environment yet.

If you already design a targeted intervention product, consider how to modify the software to work more effectively in a general classroom setting.

Now is also the time to think about launching a new supplemental learning product or re-branding your existing products. Consider how you might market these supplemental learning products differently to administrators looking for holistic tech solutions to learning loss.

In addition to addressing learning loss from the pandemic, teachers are looking for more ways to support students’ social emotional learning and growth.

By adopting technology that supports a variety of learning preferences, teachers make it easier for students to respond creatively to an assignment. Whether that’s by making a graphic novel, designing an art project, or shooting a video, students who are given opportunities for rigorous creative response develop stronger SEL skills.

How to work with this trend: edTech is well-suited to multi-modal response. It’s easy to provide students with the option to upload images or video content. These features not only support SEL growth, but they’re also a competitive advantage for your product.

Keep in mind that teachers may also want these capabilities. Think about including features that allow teachers the flexibility to respond in the modes that work best for them. How can your professional development tools and resources support multi-modal record keeping? How can you make it easy for this busy user to quickly assess a variety of response modes?

As a product owner, you already think about the importance of responsive design elements, like mobile-ready user interfaces. Now, teachers are in the same boat. They need to design “high flex” or “responsive” learning content — lessons that can work just as easily in person as they do virtually.

But the need for flexibility extends beyond the structure of the content. It’s also crucial for the structure of the lesson to be flexible. For example, will a teacher’s lesson plan work just as well if they assign reading during an in-person class as it would in a virtual setting? Do their discussion prompts work on a threaded discussion board, as well as during a smart board presentation?

The more flexible a teacher’s curriculum is — and the more “responsive” the technology they use to teach — the easier it will be to shift seamlessly between virtual and in-person lessons.

How to work with this trend: Anticipating “high flex lessons” in EdTech will require a different approach to content design and sequencing, as well as additional onboarding support for teachers.

Your digital content must be responsive to different devices and function in different teaching scenarios or contexts. Consider how you might also provide point-of-need coaching on how to change from virtual to in-person learning and back again.

College-age students continue to move away from a traditional, four-year college mindset. The costs of education remain high — and a college education isn’t always necessary for getting a high-paying job.

This shift has made higher ed institutions re-think how they’ll serve their students more effectively — while continuing to generate revenue. To meet students’ needs, colleges and universities are investing in educational technology, providing more asynchronous learning options, and adopting learning games into the curriculum.

They’re also investigating how to create and distribute high-quality digital products at scale to other institutions. Take Harvard Business School‘s popular case studies, which are used all over the country and in many different educational contexts.

We anticipate more schools to participate in this new marketplace trend as they attempt to generate more passive income and meet a rising need for asynchronous learning.

How to work with this trend: There’s more opportunity than ever to help institutions make their existing online courses flexible and interactive. Tech-savvy students are looking for relevant institutions and degree programs, and asynchronous offerings will help colleges and universities stay competitive.

By expanding into digital products, institutions of higher ed also have an opportunity to develop a passive marketing system. Done well, these products become part of branding a school’s offerings to their most sophisticated consumers — prospective students.

Whether you’re ready to take a big swing with a branded content platform or change your approach to content sequencing, innovative trends will continue to shape educational technology as we assess the effects of the pandemic on learners.

By continuing to conduct EdTech research and responding to the needs of classroom teachers, you’ll ensure that your learning tools meet the moment. Maybe you’ll even anticipate where EdTech is headed next!

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