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A Wide Range of Software to Enhance Learning and Improve Education’s Cost-Effectiveness Is Offered by Large Firms and Startups Alike, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Technology-based education solutions are gathering tremendous momentum, and in many cases are being carefully tested and applied in real school situations.  This movement toward the use of more technology has many precedents.  For example, technology has completely revolutionized American business and industry since the end of World War II, boosting productivity, increasing quality, and enhancing information flow in a manner that has created better transparency, accountability and teamwork.  Advanced technologies have the potential to do the same in education. 
The relationship between public education and technology is very analogous to that of health care and technology.  In health care, much of the day-to-day costs are paid for by federal and state governments, while the entrenched habits of the various people working in health care have long been resistant to the application of efficiency-generating software.  Today, the vast American health care industry has finally invested heavily in digital patient health records along with related staff training, as part of a larger struggle to find ways to speed care, reduce costs and improve outcomes.  This trend is being boosted partly by government grants and incentives, and by the fact that technology costs are dropping while the quality and variety of software is improving.  In the same way, education is becoming a major user of the latest hardware, software and internet tools. 
Even before the global Coronavirus pandemic sent students home to learn online, there was some general sense of inevitability about the notion that all students of all ages will eventually use tablets, computers and smartphones in highly networked and digitized classrooms.  Nonetheless, old habits change slowly and it is very challenging to design best practices and curriculum to take advantage of the power of computers and software.  As a result, both health care and education alike are often frustrated by the results of the application of new computer technologies.
A significant example of the challenges facing new technologies in the classroom is Amplify (, an innovative, multi-faceted teaching platform that developed its own tablet-like device for students, and supporting software tools for teachers.  Until mid-2015, Amplify was a subsidiary at media giant News Corp., which had very high hopes for this initiative.  After several years of development, News Corp. sold Amplify, which now operates as a free-standing, private company.  Revenues had been disappointing, and the challenges in developing and manufacturing a unique tablet has been formidable.  Nonetheless, considerable promise remains for Amplify and its basic premise.  By 2021, the firm was serving 7 million students in more than 21,000 schools in 50 U.S. states.
Amplify tablets enable teachers to personalize content to meet the needs and abilities of individual students.  This is known as “adaptive learning.”  Curriculum units can be loaded in advance or sent out as updates as needed, which allows students to work at different paces.  Amplify publishes what it calls a “core digital curriculum.”  A variety of discussion, research, demonstration and practice tools assist students in approaching information in their own ways.  Apps are available for teacher’s tablets that monitor what students’ tablets are showing, freeze screens or replace content with an “Eyes on Teacher” symbol.
Amplify’s educational tools are aimed at teachers as well as students.  Its “Professional Learning Maps” assist with professional development of educators.  Part of the goal of this tool is to help teachers make each student’s experience more personalized and engaging.
Columbia University completed a study in 2015 showing that 6,000 students at 15 traditional public schools across the U.S., achieved a 47% higher progress level in math in one year than the national average, by using a combination of personalized online learning and teacher-led learning.  The result was an average gain of 1.5 years of math progress in only one school year.

Cloud-Based Google Classroom Gains Dominance in U.S. Elementary and Secondary Schools
Google has very successfully launched a strategy to win the hearts, minds and clicks of students, based on easy-to-use, cloud-based tools and apps that are free-of-charge, plus the availability of low-cost Google Chromebook laptops.  Despite intense competition for classroom users from Apple and Microsoft, Chromebooks account for more than one-half of all laptops sold to public schools. 
Google launched Google Classroom, an online platform that enables teachers to create classes, distribute assignments, grade and send feedback to K through 12 students.  By 2019, Classroom was in use by 40 million teachers and students worldwide, which skyrocketed to 150 million in 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic.  It is likely that adoption of the system skyrocketed as students were sent home in the Coronavirus pandemic of early 2020.  School districts that might otherwise have spent millions of dollars per year on commercial software are extremely enthusiastic.
While Google Classroom doesn’t generate a lot of initial revenue, what it does receive is a massive asset:  tens of millions of young people who grow up accustomed to using Google software and devices on a day-to-day basis.  Google has agreed to federal guidelines that protect the privacy of student’s personal information.

     Online learning is gathering speed in schools at all levels, from home schooling of high school students to basic courses for university students, to essential skills training for corporate employees.  Universities, in many ways, are supplementing legacy methods by setting high standards for technology adoption.  In many ways, college libraries have been pioneers.  College and university libraries were among the first organizations to discard paper-based systems, such as card catalogs, and adopt computerized organization of resources, from books to archives.  Next, these libraries fought to create substantial budgets for online reference databases that enable faculty and students to access a wealth of current and historical data, with instant online access to top databases and archives in everything from business and economics to liberal arts, science, engineering, law and medicine.  These database subscriptions are expensive, but they are absolutely vital for higher education.  Later, libraries became big boosters of ebooks that can be accessed online by multiple readers at once.  This enabled them to reduce the amount of floor space dedicated to bookshelves, and increase the space allotted to computer desks and group study rooms.  Today, libraries offer remote login so that students and faculty may access all of a library’s electronic resources from the dorm, the office or anywhere else, on or off campus.
Meanwhile, university professors have been eager adopters of electronic tools to enable them to communicate with students, organize classwork and disseminate lesson plans and learning resources.  One of the most popular tools is a learning community called Blackboard, where students can access specific professors, their coursework and their assignments.
Software tools enhancing everything from school attendance management to student engagement, to the availability of learning resources online are growing in availability and popularity as well.  Business and investment opportunities abound due to the immense demand for greater productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in education.  “Points of pain,” (problem areas within traditional methods) present opportunities in boundless numbers, while the size of the market is absolutely immense, both in developed nations in North America, Europe and Asia, and in less-developed countries starved for good educational resources.
SPOTLIGHT:  eAdvisor
eAdvisor is an online system used by Arizona State University (ASU) and California State University among others to help students choose a major and stay on course to earn the necessary credits to earn a degree in four years.  The system has a Degree Search feature which matches student interests and aptitudes with areas of study.  It also provides degree maps, which identify specific courses necessary to reach a degree in a given major, highlighting the more difficult courses and mapping them so that they can be dealt with early in students’ schedules.  GPA requirements and milestones are also noted.
In the near future, teachers at many grade levels will be less likely to spend the majority of their days standing in front of a room full of students and lecturing.  This will be due to innovative technologies that communicate, both in classrooms and remotely through the internet, to students at home.  Today, growing numbers of educators are already utilizing computers to interact with students through video lectures, electronic games, on-the-fly polls, discussion threads, and short question and answer exercises.  To some extent, this has been fueled by national government programs that support internet access and the use of school technologies.
In Reynoldsburg City Schools, in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, a major effort to adopt teaching technologies has borne excellent results.  This may be because the school district dramatically revamped its curriculum and methodology at the same time it rolled out new technologies.  For example, the high school has been divided into four “academies,” each specializing in one learning track:  the arts; business and law; engineering and design; or health sciences.  Some classes are available online, but a high level of teacher interaction remains.
A simpler but important technology, interactive whiteboards, has been in use since the mid-2000s, linking a large display with a computer and a projector.  The computer’s desktop is projected onto the display, where users can control the desktop programs with a pointer, pen or finger.  Additional accessories enable interactivity with students.
The classroom technology trend is boosted by new data regarding student performance levels collected in the last decade.  Such data creates significant opportunities for technology and software firms that hope to tap the education technology market, estimated at $8 billion by the Software & Information Industry Association
The analysis of data concerning everything from children’s test scores to special education enrollment programs, to free lunch programs, to extracurricular activities has been underway in many states in recent years.  Proponents hope that the results will help tailor education in a manner that will address problem areas.  Other observers see privacy issues.
In addition to concerns about privacy issues, some detractors of new, technology-based teaching tools state that placing computers between students and teachers will hamper education rather than help it.  Many teachers, especially those in the Baby Boom generation, rely on eye contact with students, and observation of students’ body language, to gauge whether or not students are learning.  
On the other hand, proponents of new teaching technologies believe that the traditional lecture-learning format is a system that no longer works, particularly with younger students who are digital natives.  They argue that technology tools, such as advanced software, electronic gamification (game playing), tablets, laptops and interactive white boards, allow more customization of teaching for different students and are more acceptable to younger generations of students who are tech-savvy almost from birth.

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