The Billion Dollar EdTech Platform Hole

This is a curated short version of the post in eLiterate website.

The global pandemic will obviously result in a significant acceleration of adoption of what has been a relatively long and drawn out adoption of technology-enabled teaching and learning. Many of the specific objections and barriers that persisted are moot in the face of the alternative (insolvency of the institution). As those issues are reconciled, it is clear that a key driver is the (re?)realization that organizing around the needs of learners is job one.

In today’s reality, teaching is a rather disconnected from the needs of learners. In the spirit of academic freedom, an individual teaching faculty improvises and curates the materials and tools for their courses. And since it is the very rare case for a single provider to deliver an end-to-end personalized experience – it is up to students to fill the gaps, navigate multiple, disparate systems, jump through multiple authentication sequences, and experience jarring differences in user experience and content fidelity.

In the background, industry technology interoperability standards have evolved tremendously but are implemented in asymmetrical, unpredictable, and sometimes proprietary ways. The use of instructional designers by institutions is growing, but there are still only 10,000 or so instructional designers or roughly 1 per 100 teaching faculty members. These and other efforts can help but are really band-aids covering bigger issues.

Billions of dollars spent to develop EdTech products that are not pedagogically justified and hard to use because of massive market inefficiencies, competitive dynamics and other challenges in the broader education ecosystem.

The question is how higher education institutions and the companies that serve them will react to preserve (or not) academic freedom. Certainly, there is a bifurcation within the market and even within institutions for more (unified) top-down course design and development – but a significant percentage of the overall enrolments are based in institutions with far more complex academic freedom (improvisation) cultures.

Looks like this bifurcation will widen. More and more courses will be built to “scale” with super clean instructional design, careful consideration of student needs, engagement models, insightful use of data to drive outcomes, and “hands on” training for instructors who will deliver using proven pedagogical principles, best practices, their own skills and experiences, but little academic freedom.

On the other hand, institutions for which academic freedom is a key tenet in their institutional mission will strive to build the capacities necessary to preserve their brands and the uniqueness of their teaching culture, while delivering high quality, differentiated learner experiences in technology-enabled environments. For these institutions, highly flexible and customizable technology solutions will be required.

And those are not the only big changes looming: those institutions will become far more demanding of the companies seeking to provide them with content, technologies, and services to ensure those offerings are not locked into proprietary platforms and business models.

So, what is required for accelerated adoption to fill in the billion-dollar EdTech hole? The answer is something like unified, yet flexible, general pedagogy-based Adaptive Learning/Authoring Platforms for Personalized Education targeted on learner’s dynamic needs, success, desired job, and contribution to business outcome. That is exactly what CLARITY is and it is ready for your adoption.


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