Innovation in educational technology. Why not?

The size of the global education industry, defined as all the money spent by governments, individuals, and corporations on education and training, is almost three times the size of the global entertainment industry, and double the size of the global telecommunications industry.

So why do technical innovations in education feel like hand-me-downs? What is it about education, or educators, that make this industry so relatively sparse of innovation? Some of the obvious answers are it’s hard to sell new technologies when they’re being bought by non-profits and government entities. Or, educators’ grip on traditional methods is too tight. Or, investors don’t like the education market because they don’t understand it.

However, the real answers may lie elsewhere.

One of the reasons for the adoption of technology in education being low is because education is more complex than either entertainment or communications. If you’re educating well, you are both communicating and entertaining as you go. So it follows that education technology should borrow heavily from both these fields and should essentially be an integration of components that both communicate and entertain.

However, the integration of technologies into education requires the developer of education technology systems to understand the learning process and the teaching process inside out. People who know what makes learning work and why? What makes learning exciting, interesting, rewarding? People who by their training in education and interest in curriculum, understand the theoretical underpinnings of how education carried by technology should be framed and delivered.

Experts with these qualities are hard to find as education as an industry is full of people who are content experts, and severely lacks people who are learning experts or more specifically, learner experts who really get the whole process, and are passionate about it, from the learner’s perspective. The technical sector too is dominated by people who are technical experts but understand little about the teaching learning process.

One of the implications of this is that for technology to start playing a bigger role in education, it would have to move beyond the bits and pieces role that it currently plays and create products that reflect how learning is achieved instead of just the delivery aspect of education/curriculum.

This blog borrows from the views given here.