The global pandemic was thought to become a big moment for educational technology (EdTech). When most schools shut their doors, students were forced to turn to video calls, educational apps, communication platforms, and other means to study remotely.
Still, despite a surge in the demand for EdTech, the sector still faces a range of challenges that overshadow the future of technology development.The lack of Internet connectivity among financially insecure families, rising mental health issues after the pandemic, and one-size-fits-all approach to education have made it difficult for many students to keep up with online learning.
Today, the EdTech industry starts to slowly realize that it’s possible to transform any challenge into new opportunities. The JatApp team has prepared this article to illustrate the biggest challenges in the field of education and possible solutions to them.
Three biggest challenges in the EdTech sector
The challenges in education are real and include mental health issues caused by the pandemic, students’ digital divide, and commodification of learning content. Let’s take a closer look at these education problems and learn how successful EdTech companies respond to them.
Mental health problems after Covid-19
During the last couple of years, America has witnessed a historical high rate of mental health problems among the population, being provocatively named as the United States of Anxiety. At the beginning of last year 40% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. This rate is three times higher than the one in the first half of 2019.
The given statistics means that parents, teachers, and caregivers are experiencing psychological concerns. These problems, if left untreated, will have long-term impact on children for whom these adults care.
Students’ mental health problems are also on the rise due to the global pandemic. The Children’s Hospital Association suggests that 38 children’s hospitals reported nearly 47,000 mental health visits in the first three months of 2021. This number is almost 40% higher than within the same time span in 2020.
Children’s symptoms of anxiety stem from fear of not only the disease itself or social isolation, but also poor academic performance during the pandemic. It’s no wonder that these days many students be like:
Living through the Covid-19 pandemic has been a traumatic experience for everyone, including parents, students, and teachers. It’s increasingly important that we not only know the statistics mentioned earlier but also can implement the educational approaches that help learners to cope with their trauma.
Trauma-informed teaching refers to the use of tools that promote a psychologically healthy learning environment for students that suffer from mental health issues. These strategies make it easier for children affected by the pandemic to perceive new material, build relationships with teachers, or receive moral support from their peers.
A Bitmoji Classroom is an example of a trauma-informed teaching platform that offers an engaging learning environment, in which students use emoji images to represent themselves in a virtual space. The app lets learners access different educational activities and their school schedules at any time.
Bitmoji Classroom functionality
Offering students a visual presentation of their learning agenda helps to reduce their anxiety, as they know what exactly is coming next and can plan their day or week accordingly. A Bitmoji Classroom offers an entertaining and interactive learning environment, which helps traumatized students to increase their attention span and improve engagement.
Building relationships with students may be even more important than teaching content, especially when working with traumatized children. Apps like FlipGrid make it possible for teachers and their students to interact with each other in a fun way and feel less isolated during remote learning. Students can record videos on different topics, adding music, frames, emojis, and much more, while teachers may comment on them, thereby building trust and rapport with children.
FlipGrid app functionality
Needless to say, learners can’t effectively study unless they feel safe. Teachers should create a learning environment, where children suffering from mental health problems are eager to explore new information, play games, communicate with each other, share their progress, take risks, and heal at the end of the day.
Padlet is another trauma-sensitive educational tool that allows students to support each other by sharing various posts, either anonymously or publicly. The content of these posts doesn’t necessarily have to be related to studies. Notably, teachers can control what posts each user adds to the platform. Supportive comments from classmates can have a positive effect on a learner’s mental health as well as self-esteem.
Padlet app functionality
The digital divide refers to the disparity between individuals who use modern technologies and those who don’t have access to them. Today, 87% of households have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, while only 73% of families enjoy a stable Internet connection.
During the pandemic people without access to the Internet and technology have found it difficult to perform many basic activities, including completing schoolwork and home assignments. As schools have shifted to remote learning, students without WiFi at home struggle to demonstrate the same academic performance as their classmates. Without addressing the digital divide in education, a large percentage of young people may end up lagging behind in their studies, unable to make further learning progress.
Throughout the pandemic, most schools started to work with EdTech solutions to provide instructions and communicate with parents and students. As some learners still don’t have a reliable Internet connection, more and more educators opt for flexible solutions that offer offline access to materials.
ReadWorks is an educational technology platform that has an offline mode to help learners without access to the Internet. Learners can benefit from free and high-quality reading materials, which they can download in places with public WI-FI and use at home.
ReadWorks app functionality
Another on-point example is Kolibri, an offline EdTech solution that helps to close the digital divide. The app lets learners without the Internet download content related to English and mathematics. The platform also offers guidance to teachers on how to send study resources via messaging apps, like WhatsApp and Viber, to learners with slow Internet connection.
Kolibri offline platform
Commodification of education
Commodification refers to a process when services and goods are turned into items for sale. Many schools and universities consider education as a standardized product and learners they enroll as customers.
Today, the education market is saturated with free subscriptions to EdTech platforms, video tutorials, online courses, and such. These solutions target a large number of students offering the same teaching and evaluation methods to each user, regardless of their abilities or interest.
Eventually, this one-size-fits-all strategy impacts the quality of education. Both EdTech startups and education institutions need to think about ways to stand apart in a crowd of competitors and satisfy the unique needs of learners.
Personalized learning is one of the biggest EdTech trends that addresses the problem of commodification in education. It allows students to choose what they want to study and at what pace. In this way, learners can take initiatives and are more engaged in the learning process.
Since classes have 20-40 students on average, it can be difficult for teachers to ensure an individualized approach to everyone during the school hours. That’s why personalized learning has become particularly popular in developing homework solutions.
An American education startup teamed up with JatApp to launch a personalized learning platform for homework help. More specifically, this is an online tutoring marketplace that enables students to get customized assistance with their home assignments. Learners can communicate with tutors via a live chat to choose the best expert to help them complete their tasks. A chosen tutor answers questions that a student posts on a platform, which helps the latter to overcome their unique academic weaknesses.
Online tutoring marketplace
Zoomi, a learning analytics app, also makes a good example of a user-centered tool. Zoomi relies on machine learning to determine what workers have already learned, what needs to be taught, and how to better deliver content in future. The technology predicts users’ performance and adjusts professional development content accordingly.
EdTech leaders are confronting a range of hurdles they need to overcome to deliver effective learning experiences. The good news is that they can turn all above mentioned challenges into tempting EdTech opportunities.
To achieve this goal, EdTech companies partner with reliable providers that have extensive experience in learning management system (LMS) development. JatApp prides itself on developing products that have raised more than $500K in funding. We rely on modern approaches to development, like containerization, cloud technology, and microservice architecture, to ensure that the educational technology is of high quality, released on time, and can be scaled easily.
Have a project for us? Don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll reach out to you as soon as possible.