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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 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 partly 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.
Online learning is gathering speed in learning 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. 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. 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.
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. ASU reported that the percentage of students who move up to the next year instead of falling behind rose from 77% to 84% between 2007 and 2012 thanks to eAdvisor.
Teachers on many levels in the near future 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, games, on-the-fly polls, discussion threads, short question and answer exercises, as well as randomly calling on students. To some extent, this trend is fueled by U.S. federal programs including the Department of Education’s Race to the Top, which is a competitive $4 billion grant created in 2010 offered to states that adhere to education standards and policies set by the Obama administration, including Internet access and use of technology.
In North Carolina, starting in 2013, 18 of Guildford County’s middle schools received a total of 15,450 tablet computers manufactured by Amplify, Inc., a subsidiary of News Corporation (paid for in part by a $30 million Race to the Top grant). The cost for each tablet was estimated to be $199, including support and training. By 2015, Amplify planned to have its tablets in middle schools across the U.S., with high schools and elementary schools to follow.
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. In late 2014, it launched “Professional Learning Maps” to 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.
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, along with the creation of new standards such as the controversial Common Core State Standards (, a set of learning goals set by governors and state commissioners in nearly all U.S. states, two territories and the District of Columbia starting in 2009. The standards define what Kindergarten through 12th grade students as well as college and career-ready students are expected to know and understand on each level. They create 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
In a related trend, 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. Data analytics firm InBloom tracked student data in nine states between 2011 and 2014 while New York City-based Knewton was tracking about 5 million U.S. students as of early 2014. However, InBloom announced plans to close down in April 2014 after a growing number of parents expressed privacy concerns, to the extent that six of the firm’s nine client states cancelled their contracts. InBloom was able to collect and store so much personal data about individual student activities that many parents were outraged.
Detractors of new, technology-based teaching tools say, in addition to privacy issues, that placing computers between students and teachers will hamper education rather than help it. Many teachers, especially those in the Baby Boomer generation, rely on eye contact and body language to gauge whether or not students are learning. Proponents believe that the traditional lecture-learning format is a system that no longer works, as evidenced by falling test scores. Technology tools such as advanced software, gamification (game playing), tablets, laptops and interactive white boards, they argue, allow more customization of teaching for different students and are more acceptable to younger generations of students who are tech-savvy almost from birth.
Costs for new technology are becoming more affordable, since tablet and laptop prices have fallen dramatically in recent years. K-12 schools in the U.S. collectively spend about $17 billion on instructional materials and technology each year. Between $7 billion and $8 billion is spent per year on textbooks (an expense that tablets and laptops can cut substantially by migrating students to cost-effective ebooks and other online resources).

A Representative List of Organizations that Have Used our Research and Products:


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