It’s been a full year since COVID-19 affected us all globally and forced us to quickly adapt to a new way of life. A significant change, in particular, was to the workplace and educational establishments. Teachers and students were suddenly expected to adopt a digital way of learning and had to rely on EdTech platforms like never before.
We spoke to Nickey Khemchandani, CTO and Co-Founder of BSD Education as he reflected on the past year and the role EdTech played during Covid.
How do you think the educational systems and individual learners coped with this exceptional change in education?
Nickey Khemchandani: We are seeing highly adaptable and creative educators changing the goals of their curriculum, increasing attentiveness to individual student needs with the help of technology, and are now starting to flourish under the change. Individual learners have found very different experiences, some really benefiting from the adjustment to the pacing of online learning, the relaxed environment of learning from home, and the increase of engagement with digital skills being put at the forefront.
On the flip side, students are unfortunately tackling challenges created by a wider digital divide, access to a ‘relaxed environment is a luxury globally, having stable and regular access to the internet and computers is not as accessible.
What role do you think EdTech has played during Covid?
NK: A critical role, it has enabled teachers to continue teaching for starters. One of the big things it was able to do was make it globally accessible for teachers and students to connect. It has enabled millions of kids to start moving into a world where online education, as well as a hybrid education, can exist. So it’s played a role of being more like a bridge, at the moment during Covid, however, it has also started highlighting areas of growth in the future such as the benefits of an environment of online learning. As some schools enter a hybrid model (half physical, half online) we are starting to take advantage of both worlds, and the blend of the two looks like it’s here to stay.
Do you think education has been changed long term by the pandemic?
With the evolution of online learning, it’s made their experience of education more accessible, and less time-consuming. Long-term positive effects for the education sector could be lower fees. That landscape could start becoming a lot more affordable.
A negative is that the digital divide is going to be a big problem to solve in the next couple of years. How do we provide access to cities, states, and households that do not have enough access to digital learning? People who have this level of access are benefiting from it, and now they are at such a distinct advantage that the divide has become even greater I would say.
What types of EdTech will see the longest-term benefit? Do you think that for example, Zoom’s growth for education will tail off?
NK: The video conference will remain, it’s a useful and global tool. Zoom has grown but it takes a lot to become big, a household known name and tool. I think EdTech will be more integrated into the education system rather than replacing it.
Zoom has changed the ‘playground’, the social aspect. We are looking through screens, not interacting with body language and eye contact. It’s accessible but not sociable, therefore I think it will be less used, but not completely abandoned.
How do you see the opportunities for EdTech from the pandemic?
NK: Funding of EdTech has grown, it highlights the importance of it when globally it’s seen as something worth investing in. A new hybrid model of EdTech is going to emerge. We will start to see the difference in accessibility and a lot more engagement. The biggest one for me is a push for project-based learning. The future of education is results, project-based learning can only get bigger.
Was there a bigger demand for BSD Education’s product during the pandemic?
NK: Yes a larger demand came in, a big difference between us and other EdTech platforms is that we provide a curriculum and support outside of just the technology, we are way more than just a tech solution, we are an education solution.
COVID has unequivocally accelerated the EdTech and Education industries and presented new challenges to students and teachers alike. Now is the time to learn from the past year and digitizing curriculums for various types of learning will be key as we move forward. EdTech has ushered in a new era of education and undeniably played a major role during the pandemic.