Thinkific’s report on Digital Learning Trends showed us a lot of ways that the education space is changing. More people want educational content available online, in small doses, and want to learn within a community.
With so much going on in the digital learning space, teachers and content creators are looking for new ways to manage their learning businesses. Luckily, educational technology can help ease some of the friction when it comes to sharing your knowledge in 2023.
- What is educational technology?
- 6 types of education technology
- 5 benefits of educational technology software
- Examples of educational technology in practice
Educational technology (or EdTech, for short) is a term that encompasses a lot of general software products that support teachers and digital creators in their efforts to effectively and efficiently deliver course content. While many virtual classrooms have adopted educational technology to make courses more interactive, in-person classrooms can also use this type of software to make mundane tasks like tracking assignments easier. Both online and in-person classes can also use the tech for fun — to launch quizzes, virtual labs, and online games that help students learn in creative, new ways.
There are a lot of different types of educational technology on the market today. With a bit of research, there’s little doubt that you’ll be able to find one well-suited to your business’ specific needs. To give you somewhere to start on your research journey, let’s dive into six of the most common types of education technology.
Course management software
Once you’ve compiled a few courses, you may find that you have a lot of content to manage. Having one place to organize each course and cohort is helpful as it makes it easier to deploy courses to new students and circle back to older course content when it needs updating. You’ll also be able to measure student progress throughout the course to make sure the content is interesting, relevant, and digestible.
Many beginners turn to YouTube as an entry level “course management software” as you can upload videos and organize them into playlists. Yes, YouTube is completely free, but it isn’t true course management software. It lacks key tools that allow you to tie your videos to assignments and activities, take attendance, and track course and lesson completion.
Dedicated course management platforms like Thinkific can help you build a library of content, organize it by course, and track student progress. Thinkific also allows you to create and upload a wide variety of resources for your course, and it has a free plan to get started.
Quiz, exam, and survey tools
Whether you’re hosting your course online or in-person, you’ll want to keep your students engaged somehow! Launching quizzes and polls is a fun, interactive way of ensuring that students pay attention. Tools like Kahoot and SurveySparrow are great options to start with if you’re just looking to boost engagement. Kahoot runs a live trivia-style competition, while Survey Sparrow can be used to send mini quizzes or feedback surveys to students. Of course, many course management tools, including Thinkific, have tools like these built in.
Exam proctoring software is another type of educational technology that fits into this category, and is becoming a popular way for universities to identify cheating on final exams.
Online learning communities
It can be a challenge for students in online classes to find ways to connect, as you don’t get the personal proximity to others that you do with in-person classes. To mitigate this, consider using an online learning community platform. These tools bring your students together to facilitate discussion, get to know each other, and ask questions. As the teacher, you can stimulate the conversations in these communities by asking new questions to the group each week, or encouraging students to share healthy debate in the channel. Some additional benefits to using online communities include:
- Enabling students to share their personal knowledge from outside of the course, to further increase the amount of learning in an organic way
- Seeing how students communicate with each other, which can be important for some course topics
- Creating a new space for the students to prove the knowledge that they have learned in the course
Live course delivery platforms
One of the essential categories of education technology is video conferencing tools, or similar platforms that allow the course to be delivered to students live. Zoom is by far the most popular platform to date, as it can take participant registration, track attendance, and already includes its own polling feature but there are many others including Demio, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting. Many of these platforms can integrate directly into learning management systems as well. By integrating Zoom to Thinkific, for example, you can offer some pre-recorded content or resources to your students before and after live sessions.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok all support live-streaming events as well. This can be a suitable starting option for digital creators who have an online community on their social media page and are looking to begin building a sustainable education business.
Interactive learning labs
Interactive learning labs are a digital software space where students can simulate a real-world situation. It’s super helpful in cases when:
- You have a lot of kinesthetic learners in your class
- It’s difficult to create the real situation in-person, or
- The topic is super complex and is hard to explain with just words
Right now there are many interactive learning labs that cater to different niches. For example, the Science Interactive allows students to create virtual science lab experiments. In cases where teachers can’t purchase expensive equipment, chemicals are too dangerous to use, or students simply want to experiment with low-risk, this platform can help them still meet their learning needs.
Class management software
Note that class management software is different than course management software. This one focuses on how the students are doing, and less on managing the course content and progress. It’s a great type of educational technology software as teachers can use it to track attendance, mark behavioral issues, collect assignments, and post grades. For example, Teach ‘n Go is a class management software that connects classes to the wider school system and schedules staff to be present in the classroom when needed.
Adapt courses to multiple learning styles
With the help of technology, you can make any course accessible to almost anyone. Every student requires a slightly different approach to learning, even if it’s as simple as being an auditory learner versus a visual learner. For students with learning disabilities or cognitive delays, educational technology software can add closed captioning, slow the pace of learning, or allow the student to access additional support content without catching attention from other students.
Easy to track student progress
Most education technology tools have some sort of analytics function. This is great for overseeing student progress and quickly identifying anyone who might be lagging. If you have plans to teach a large class, you’ll definitely need to consider stepping away from manual tracking methods and see how tracking tools can save you time. As a bonus, you can find a tool that will automatically calculate grade averages and final marks saving you even more time and energy!
Get quick feedback on your course
Through online communities, you can quickly touch base with your students and see how they’re finding the course content. This immediate feedback can be used to adjust your content on the fly and improve your students’ experience.
If you’re new to course creation, you can use technology to create and launch a beta version of your course. You’d need a small group of students to provide you with initial feedback as you build the content. It’s much easier to offer this trial option virtually than in-person.
Monetize your knowledge
There’s big money to be made in monetizing your expertise. For example, Deanna Wolfe, a Registered Dietitian, made $1.2 million in her first year after launching courses to help women overcome diet culture. It’s not to say that selling a new course is going to guarantee a strong new income stream for you in itself, but with the right monetization strategy you can get there! Having a tool that works with multiple monetization strategies and which tracks payments can allow you to successfully test monetizing your course content.
Quickly scale your course registration
Unless you’re working with a small class of 20 students or less, it’s going to be difficult to manually keep tabs on individual student progress, behaviors, and requirements. If you work with a larger class size or if you plan to launch a course at scale, you’ll need software that can automate, track, and notify you of updates. Not only is this going to save you time and energy, but it will allow you to have more accurate student information. It might even allow your course to run passively in the background while you focus on other aspects of your business.
Creating a flipped classroom to increase discussion time during live class
The “flipped classroom” concept involves giving students learning materials like pre-recorded videos to watch before class, and then using the scheduled class time to discuss the concepts as a group. This contrasts the “typical” classroom setting where a teacher explains a topic during the class period and expects students to complete homework on their own afterwards. With this approach, students try to understand the topic at their own pace and then bring any remaining questions to the group and teacher. Course management software can help you organize and deploy learning materials ahead of each session.
In 2019, Milie Adrian quit her full-time job to pursue content creation on Instagram, YouTube, and her own course. She used Thinkific to launch three courses at widely different price points to test what her market was interested in. To keep her students connected to each other, she’s also created a Facebook group where all students are invited to ask questions about content creation and share inspiration with one another.
Ariane Cap has an online business called Ari’s Bass Blog where she teaches music theory and how to play the bass. Her courses have a strong online community component as course alumni are encouraged to stay connected and support the next generation of students as a coach. Having one-to-one coaching connections increased accountability, and made students feel more motivated about completing the full course. Since Ariane’s business is entirely virtual, using Thinkific’s online communities feature was key to connecting remote students to their coach mentors.
Get started using educational technology
While we covered a few of the most popular types of educational technology, there’s still plenty more out there for you to explore and learn about on your own. Or, if you’re already feeling inspired and ready to start using educational technology to create, share, or improve your classes, you’ve come to the right place! Thinkific is a beginner-friendly learning management system (LMS) that bundles a few types of educational technology into one platform. Use it to build course journeys, track student progress, roll out quizzes, and more! Get started with Thinkific here.