Project Coordinator of the European EdTech Network, IE University
We have been told that technology is revolutionising education. Let’s think about it again – in 1969, humans landed on the moon and in 2020, some European schools and universities delivered their first online classes. Is it enough to call it a revolution?
Since the world’s first university was created, over a thousand years ago, access to education changed dramatically. Handwritten books, printing presses, the internet – the scale has been changing for centuries but not the education itself.
Today, in many places in Europe, with one click, learners of all ages can join platforms like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), created by experts from the best universities worldwide. As impressive as it may sound, these changes are relatively small in comparison with other fields impacted by technology like finance, production, healthcare or even dating.
Is it all about the money?
Last year, education finally improved its position on everybody’s agenda. According to HolonIQ reports, education will be an over 7 trillion USD industry by 2025 and the investment in easily scalable technology is a big part of it.
Educational technology has two elements though. And while technology develops fast and benefits as much from social, as from natural science, we still have very little evidence on what good education is. Not to mention how little we know about the link between the two.
Here is where universities can really step in – providing data on technology supporting pedagogy and best methodologies.
While technology develops fast and benefits as much from social, as from natural science, we still have very little evidence on what good education is.
However, while it can feel very rewarding to achieve something on our own, individualistic culture in Europe is not supporting the growth of the edtech sector as strongly as it happens in Asia or the USA. The conservative approach of some of the world’s oldest universities and lack of systematic collaboration across countries is not helping either.
Working on joint projects in international, interdisciplinary teams is a new trend that can speed up the process and, what is even more important, improve the quality of offered edtech products.
The role of European universities is to provide the sector with tools to design right solutions to real problems. If it can be done, and when, will strongly depend on our collaboration skills, openness and humility.