Online learning can enable educators to reach an almost limitless audience

“Edtech will be key to pushing us towards an education style that suits the individual, no matter where they are based”

The last two years have been a torrid time across a number of sectors and education is no exception to that rule, but we can also take some key lessons from the experience of teaching through a pandemic.

One of the effects of lockdowns across the globe has been the breaking down of borders in education, as the shift towards online or blended learning allows educators to reach a larger virtual ‘classroom’, spread across large geographical areas, says Rahim Hirji, UK Country Manager of online learning platform and app, Quizlet.

While we have seen many students spending more time in the classroom in 2021 than in 2020, some universities are continuing to offer lectures and seminars online, following huge investments in blended learning tools – something we will see becoming the norm in education across all sectors going forward.

Being thrown in at the deep-end in terms of online learning was a challenge, but it also helped to demystify the medium for those that were unfamiliar with it. Even 10 years ago, the concept of online learning was alien to many. Synchronous live tutors seemed like a scary proposition to parents of younger students, but they are very much part of the mix at all levels of education now.

The last two years have highlighted a few ways that edtech can help learners.

Firstly, edtech has been legitimised as “a channel for education”, meaning students around the world can now access quality instruction, pre-recorded videos, lessons, and live tutoring as well as being able to take tests online.

Secondly, students are being offered opportunities to learn in different, more engaging ways, from revising with friends and gamified learning to blended approaches.

Finally, students are using edtech as a tool to drive their learning further, enabling them to go the extra mile outside of the classroom. That’s not to say that students weren’t doing it before, but access to a wealth of online resources makes it easier to structure learning at home.

Online learning is not a catch all for all students and, while it did replace in-person classes for a time, that is not the norm we can expect to see in the future. Digital resources will instead act as an addendum to in-person classes. Students at different ages find an arsenal of tools that work for them.

We’re continuing to see more and more students turn towards digital tools like Quizlet, where they can test themselves, study on the go, or simply review terms to catch up. I believe the future of education is personalised learning and edtech will be key to pushing us towards an education style that suits the individual, no matter where they are based.

Catering for different learning styles, the speed of learning enabled by edtech will be a game-changer within education as the technology and content both adapt to the user’s specific needs.

Edtech can also help to promote a more global outlook towards education, by removing borders as a barrier to sharing knowledge. Online learning has the capacity to deliver standardised quality content at scale and enables educators to reach an almost limitless audience.

While curricula will continue to be devised at a national level, the techniques that we can share for learning and revision, as well as some resources which can be useful across different countries, are becoming accessible regardless of geographical location. This kind of opportunity for collaboration across different territories is one of the key positive impacts of edtech.

As long as edtech adds to the learning outcomes of students, teachers and lecturers will continue to use technology to support learning – and students themselves can benefit from the technology. Uptake of edtech will look very different in every country and region, but I believe there will be incrementally more usage of edtech in 2022 with companies like Outlier and Multiverse offering something new to learners over and above the traditional MOOCs.

We will also see an uptick in usage of remote tools in schools with vehicles like Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom becoming a norm in many schools now. In many cases, platforms like Quizlet have already become a fundamental part of the learning process, and many teachers have implemented the tool both in and out of the classroom.

Traditionally, in the past, the education sector across the board has suffered from a lack of funding, and that has hit institutions really hard, especially when it comes to digital tools and the investment in technology. The pandemic was a bit of a reboot as governments and institutions saw how digital education and tools can provide outsized benefits to students and educators.

The education sector now has a chance to embrace digital modes of learning, tools, and curriculum to support a new era of education that is emerging.

About the author: Rahim Hirji is the UK Country Manager at Quizlet, the global learning platform that provides engaging study tools to help it’s 60+ million monthly active users practice and master whatever they are learning. An expert in the education space and associated technologies, Rahim has worked in edtech across the UK, EMEA and Asia. Before joining Quizlet, he was the founding COO at EtonX, a company teaching soft skills online, and previously, was CEO of Maths Doctor, an online tutoring company.