Why Does Edtech Matter for the Future of Work?

Published by Andrew Maker, ICT Trade Commissioner | 2020-06-24 15:16:12

Predicting the future of work is like predicting the weather – the short term may have some glimmers of certainty but no one really knows what will be around the corner in 6-12 months.  The current COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of this.

Planning is one piece, but the anticipation of change is more important and realizing that we need to be flexible with our systems and capabilities is perhaps the MOST important element.

But what does this have to do with kids, school, and trying to figure out distance learning?  Well, a lot actually.  At the core, teaching kids to work in a remote setting will better prepare them for the eventuality that remote work as an adult could be something they have to deal with.  Furthermore, teaching core skills of creativity and problem solving can come by using new technology progressively.

Make no mistake about it, distance learning doesn’t mean you can take a classroom curriculum and cut/paste.  There are things in the classroom that simply don’t work over shared documents, virtual meetings, and homeschool teachers that are also parents trying to manage their own careers.  This is why looking to new tools and existing solutions that are pivoting to distance learning is critical.

The Canadian ed-tech ecosystem has produced a number of dynamic companies in recent years and continues to grow as COVID-19 forces solutions to adapt to the needs of the market.  Strong federal grant programs supporting technology in the classroom and the quick action from the Ontario Ministry of education to partner with Knowledgehook have aided in the growth and emphasis on technology in the classroom – wherever that may be.  Canadian ed-tech companies have also done a tremendous job pivoting their solutions during the time of COVID-19 to help families administer curriculum in a relatively effective environment (can you sense my sentiment as a current teacher to my 7-year-old second grader…?)

Inanimate Alice has done what seems to be impossible and created an engaging, multimodal platform to teach reading.  This award-winning platform also inspires learners to think creatively – something easier said than done when looking at trying to teach in the same setting that a student eats, sleeps, and plays.

Spindle is a new platform originally designed for the classroom and group learning, but has since evolved into a tool for engaging multiple students through disparate settings.

Robogarden takes the pain out of learning how to code and gamifies it!  Through a suite of games and interactive tools, young learners all the way to professionals looking at new career paths can play games, learn to code and build a life-long skill set.

These are just a few of the educational tools that are evolving to help students learn anywhere.  And it’s just this message that also needs to be taught – learning, as well as work, can and will continue to happen in many places.  Some locations might be comfortable and some might be challenging but teaching students is not just about the content.  We are now teaching students that how they learn is an important trait to identify as they grow to be adults in the workforce.

Today’s students will have the unique perspective to be future leaders that can help organizations pivot and conquer new challenges.  The unfortunate reality is, we can’t predict what changes will come next.  However, planning for the unexpected by creating agile learners is one step towards becoming more dynamic.

The ed-tech market map below gives a glimpse into some of the other Canadian ed-tech companies, from tools for administrators to solutions for professional development that have created a rich ecosystem for students, teachers, administrators and parents.