It’s expected that 2024 will be an impactful year for education technology. While the accelerated development of edtech in recent years has led to revolutionary breakthroughs, it has also come with unintended consequences that need to be addressed.
Today, the edtech industry must evaluate how technological advancements are affecting students—both positively and negatively—and how we can focus on using ‘tech for good.’ In 2024, this will mean putting a focus on helping students achieve a healthier balance with tech devices and tools, and engaging students authentically in their own digital well-being.
Working with generative AI
We can’t escape the reality of artificial intelligence, which means learning to work with AI will be a top priority in 2024 for edtech companies and school districts alike.
When it comes to generative AI tools like ChatGPT, finding a balance will be key. It’s no secret that most students are aware of and can access this technology—it can even be an asset when used correctly. AI can serve as a starting point for finding out-of-the-box ideas or to practice critical analysis. While its capacity to foster creative thinking is valuable, AI also can spread biases and misinformation, and it can hinder learning outcomes when the tool is used to do the work for the students.
YouTube is a great example of the learning curve that often comes with new technology. At first, YouTube was seen only as a distraction for students. But as more educational content was added to the site, it became a powerful tool. This led us to develop options that allow districts and teachers to choose which YouTube videos students can and cannot watch. This same concept can now be applied to generative AI tools.
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We know that students need guidance on how to use AI tools safely and effectively. At Linewize, our approach is to ensure we give as much control as possible to school district administrators and educators, allowing them to determine when and how it’s appropriate to use AI in a school setting.
Bringing students in on the ‘why’
Keeping students safe online is about more than just blocking inappropriate content—it’s about guiding them to become well-rounded digital citizens. While content filters and parental controls are essential tools that allow school districts, parents and guardians to protect students, 2024 will see more focus on getting children and teens actively involved in their online safety.
Students are often the first to identify a flaw or loophole that allows them access to a blocked site. For this reason, it’s more important than ever for students to understand the ‘why’ behind edtech tools—and the role they play in their development and education. If students are blocked from entering a specific website, this opens a great opportunity to discuss the reasoning behind that decision.
Having open and authentic discussions around guidelines, rules and internet safety is essential to the success of a school district’s edtech solutions. This can also come in the form of edtech platforms that provide more resources and expert advice to school staff, parents and guardians—supporting them in having these crucial conversations with their students.
Authenticity needs to exist every step of the way, between edtech companies and the districts we serve, the parents and guardians we support, and the students we all want to keep safe.
Benefiting from edtech
The mental health and well-being crisis plaguing children and teens is, unfortunately, showing no signs of slowing. To combat this, edtech companies must continue looking for new ways technology can help.
For example, digital well-being platforms can empower students to raise their hands and say, “I need help.” These tools are gaining momentum, allowing school staff and teachers to regularly check in with students, identify early indicators of students who need more assistance and provide support right away.
Technology is never meant to replace face-to-face check-ins from school staff, parents and guardians, but it can facilitate opportunities to check in by meeting students where they are—online—and providing a touchpoint where they’re most comfortable.
Looking ahead, it will be important to balance how students are using and benefiting from edtech with the known risks and downsides. Additionally, authentic environments in which students understand the technology they’re encountering daily and have a reliable outlet for seeking help will lead to a more successful educational experience and improved well-being.