Education technology, or“EdTech” is the field of using technology to improve or make education more accessible. This can range from anything like a student tracking tool to a simple app that displays dinosaur bone anatomy. The most well known education technology platform would be Khan Academy, which is a website with free educational content-- originally generated by the founder-- on a wide variety of subjects. When focusing on education technology, it’s very important to think about how teachers & students will be affected.
❔ Problems faced
Education technology faces a wide array of problems. On an institutional level, there is much difficulty rolling out specific solutions with how the local & state governments choose to regulate their classrooms. In the same vein, there is a certain budget that schools get, making EdTech difficult to be profitable. Some more technical challenges that EdTech companies face include issues in networking and content accessibility. Schools often have unreliable and slow networks, meaning that connection to the internet is not always a guarantee. Blueprint, a club at UC Berkeley that develops technology for nonprofits, tackled this problem by enabling their application to work offline when they were working with the organization, DREAM. There are other logistical problems that EdTech projects can think about, such as the increasing shortage of teachers nationwide. Overall, the potential of EdTech is that it can expand into any issue regarding learning and development.
💭 How to approach problems in EdTech
The most common reasons why EdTech companies fail are because of a lack of understanding of the education system or a lack of empathy and connection with teachers. It’s particularly important to think from the shoes of a teacher or a student when thinking about EdTech problems, because technology solutions are always centered around the user issues that is solves. Another common pitfall for EdTech projects is to restrict yourself to directly managing students and teachers. Technology can really applied to any aspect of education. A startup called Quill aims to tackle a simple problem such as improving students’ writing, but executes fantastically. They apply multiple NLP techniques to achieve an 84% accuracy in identifying sentence fragments, compared to Google and Microsoft Word’s 30%. There are many ways to think about different issues and apply technology to solve them. Another useful way to think about tackling education issues is in how you, or your team, has personally had struggles learning. Think back to your high school days and how you hated when that one teacher always forgot to do ___. Think about how technology can be used to solve those problems or your own personal learning problems.
👩🏼💻 Sample projects
List of sample projects or areas that can be completed within the constraints of a hackathon(36 hours, mostly software oriented, etc.). Descriptions of the project can include initial problem statements, along with plausible solution, but descriptions do not need to include this information. The goal of this section is to give hackers a base on which to build on top of.