Last month, we held our first annual conference ‘EdTech Enabling the knowledge Economy’.

The conversations were wide-ranging and engaging – but one theme that stood out was the need to remain relevant in the face of potential disruption.

Our industry really is unique – From pre-school through higher education and into corporate and lifelong learning, EdTech has the potential to drive economic growth and profoundly transform how we learn. The rapid development of the EdTech sector and the sheer size of the global market – $255bn by 2017 – represents a huge opportunity for job creation in Ireland. And this job creation will come from growth of indigenous companies and our ability to attract FDI.

In the face of potential disruption, we have to be prepared to innovate – we have to be at the forefront of innovation – in our schools, colleges and in the workplace. The challenge is to identify where we need to innovate.

We already know that disruption happens where a community is provided with alternatives and choice that question the relevance of the status quo – you only have to look at Airbnb and the hotel industry, Uber and the taxi industry.

Disruption will happen in education and learning simply because people value more effective, more convenient access to learning. Economists talk of ‘utility’ as the measure of satisfaction that consumers place on goods. It is the utility of learning that will drive disruption – and technology is consistently and will increasingly challenge the relevance of traditional models of education, training and L&D.

For example:

  • If a 7 year-old can access the entire maths curriculum free on line, what does that mean for school-based models teaching and learning?
  • If neither students nor employers see value in high stakes exams as a means of measurement, what new assessment models will enable us to measure what we value?
  • If an undergraduate can access an entire course online via a MOOC, what are the implications for higher education delivery?
  • If a financial services sales professional can have real-time, context aware learning support at point of need, what does that mean for corporate L&D?

At Learnovate, we are in the business of disruption and innovation – we are seeing technology driving transformation across the board – from pre-school right through higher ed and into corporate and lifelong learning.  The challenge is identifying how to remain relevant and add value, so that collectively we can also meet the demands of the knowledge economy, preparing and enabling learners to be future ready.