Revitalizing EdTech

Becky Vasquez, Vice President and CIO, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
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Becky Vasquez, Vice President and CIO, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Becky Vasquez, Vice President and CIO, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

1. Amongst All Modern-Day Developments 'Technology' Has Clearly Emerged As The Single Biggest Theme To Impact The Sector In The Last Few Years. This Augurs Well For The Present-Day Learner, As Also For Educators And Others In The Teaching-Learning Process. The Advent Of Digitally Enabled Classrooms, Cloud-Based Content, Ebooks And Online Assessments Among Others Has Enabled Our Education System To Reach An Inflection Point. What Are The Current Market Trends You See Shaping The Big Data Space?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a market trend with capability to shape the education landscape. Artificial intelligence in regards to personalized learning has potential to readily transform the educational experience in very meaningful ways. AI is helping us understand what students already know and where gaps of knowledge exist. We can tailor a student’s learning experience to provide quick remediation and deliver learning objectives focusing on what they need to know. AI allows us to adapt to the individualized student experience versus focusing on students in mass, allowing them to be better prepared and more successful. Another exciting scenario for artificial intelligence is in regards to service delivery by leveraging chatbots. Virtual assistants are becoming more popular in homes across the world. Computerized speech recognition and natural language processing continue to advance and accuracy is impressive. We can effectively use chatbots to support students in a multitude of ways. For example, guidance on class registration, financial aid, daily lunch specials and events on campus can be provided. The ability to automate chat with students and provide useful responses in natural and conversational ways provides endless possibilities.

2. 2017 Was A Landmark Year For Edtech With Technology Being Adopted Quickly And Content Being Rewritten And Redesigned To Adapt To A Variety Of Emerging Media. Will 2018 Have The Potential To Upturn The Education Landscape Forever?

  Artificial intelligence in regards to personalized learning has potential to readily transform the educational experience in very meaningful ways  

I believe the original upturn occurred during the advent of class resources and materials becoming available online, which happened some time ago. The ability to effectively deliver courses online, both asynchronously and synchronously, has provided educational opportunities to students in ways we couldn’t imagine a few decades ago. Online education and technology enhanced education landscapes have potential to be positively affected by virtual, augmented, and mixed reality spaces. In my mind, this brings the learning environment to the next level, especially when considering lab environments. Virtual labs are always open and provide the unique opportunity for students to practice repeatedly until they are comfortable with concepts within a safe, realistic, and readily accessible environment.

3. "Technology Will Never Replace Great Teachers, But Technology In The Hands Of Great Teachers Is Transformational" – A Quote That Very Well Supports The Use Of Education In Technology. The Educational Sector, Though It Proudly Flaunts The Introduction Of Technology In Education, Is Vulnerable To Being Replaced By Technology. The Above Quote Very Well Signifies The Importance Of Technology And Education Which When Combined Doubles Up The Power Of Imparting Knowledge. What Are The Confrontations That Edtech Is Facing In This Contemporary World?

I don’t believe education is at risk of being replaced by technology but the landscape will potentially look very different, especially when considering traditional college campuses. With anytime, anywhere online learning platforms, technology supports flexibility as well as affordable options. Ultimately, technology has helped make higher education accessible in ways we may not have imagined previously. Pedagogical considerations area priority, whether or not technology is involved. Powerful learning experiences, occurring between great teachers and students everywhere, remain at the heart of every institution. Education has an opportunity to understand how the overall environment can and may need to change to meet the expectations of modern learners, regardless of their age. For example, providing a residential campus experience for students who pursue degrees fully online may become more of a norm for traditional age students.

What Are The Major Tasks For Organizational CIOs At This Point In Time? Is There Any Unmet Need In Terms Of Edtech Space That Is Yet To Be Leveraged From The Vendors?

Primarily, I believe we should focus on strategies versus tasks. Our focus should be in the strategic arena. There continue to be many vendor provided solutions available and a majority of the time, options are available to meet Edtech needs. Cloud native solutions are appealing as they typically provide agility and speed to market.

4. What Is Your Advice For Budding Technologists In The Edtech Space? How Do You See The Evolution Few Years From Now With Regards To Disruptions And Transformations Within Edtech Space?

Budding technologists have many exciting opportunities in front of them. No matter where interests may lie within the technology field, there is a broad spectrum to choose from within Edtech. Soft skills will continue to be important and I believe, more critical than ever. Information Technology departments historically have been very technology centric and at times, driven the overall technical direction for a university. A well rounded approach is important to consider. Technologists who understand the value of partnerships and how technology can and should support the overall goals of an institution will be valuable members of the team. Effective communication skills, project management skills, and the ability to embrace creativity in the application of technical solutions joined with extensive technical knowledge are important areas of focus.

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