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Mind the Education Gap: Will we ever go back to the classroom?

When change happens, you gain some things and lose others. 

The students have experienced massive disruption to their education, with no choice but to turn to technology and remote learning. Reports are revealing that 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic so far.

My own experience completing an Executive MBA during the pandemic highlighted another, rarely discussed, consequence of the dramatic shift in teaching format; the importance of keeping students engaged. 

Remote education: the road less travelled

Adjusting to remote learning was not exactly a smooth ride.  The ability to collaborate with my team and other executives in the same way was lost along with an element of accountability.  This was partly because it was so much easier for people to disengage and become distracted when sitting behind a computer screen. The creative bursts you get from in-person discussion are difficult to replicate. 

Although, there is certainly something to be said about effective remote learning and how strong the teacher or lecturer is at engaging, structuring and using technology. 

On the other hand, there is more of an opportunity to get excited about certain topics and draw out the most interesting parts of the lecture.  The rise of virtual elements, such as polls and quizzes ultimately created more chances for engagement. 

It is clear that we haven’t quite cracked the move from traditional teaching to remote learning when it comes to virtual classes, as it has become all too easy to lose engagement, motivation and inspiration when learning. 

The EdTech market is growing bigger, faster

Before COVID, there was a high growth and adoption in education technology, with global EdTech investments at US$19 billion in 2019 with a projected increase to US$350 billion by 2025. 

Lockdown restrictions and increasing concerns from parents applied pressure to schools and government bodies to adapt and explore the use of technology for distance learning. 

Whether it was language apps, virtual classes or lo-tech solutions, there has clearly been a surge in alternative methods to in-person education. 

The question is, as we shift away from attending lessons in the classroom, will the adoption of online learning continue to persist post-pandemic? And how would such a shift impact the worldwide education and technology market? 

Opportunities: AI and personalised education

Our own first-hand experience with WordUp, the app which has addressed the failure of disengaged learning, shows how much technology can help the education process when it is used innovatively. 

Reaching over 1 million users in less than 6 months and now with more than 6 million downloads, WordUp has clearly filled a gap in the online language learning market.

But unlike traditional teaching that is focused on productising the subject for a group of people, WordUp focuses on personalising the learning experience based on the individuals and accommodates the demands of a younger, digitally-native generation looking to improve their vocabulary or needing help to pass an English language exam.  A group of people who are entirely comfortable multi-tasking and switching from answering a text, an email, posting something on social media or learning a new skill.  

WordUp makes learning material accessible and uses Artificial Intelligence to personalise the educational experience.  You don’t need textbooks, expensive equipment, or supplies; all learning materials are picked (using AI) to increase relevance and personalisation of education. 

The future of education

The pandemic has exposed how non-personalised our education system is and what great opportunities are ahead of us to change this. To bring fairness to the education system and by using technology letting the students to learn at their own pace and personalise their education experience. 

While some may still worry that the hasty nature of the transition online may hinder the education of a generation, others plan to utilise the disruption to accelerate education innovation by using technology, something that perhaps has been overly delayed and we owe it to our children.