Edtech moves up the learning curve

Education technology – or the use of information and communications technology to facilitate, enrich and in some cases replace traditional forms of learning – is a hot topic with educators and investors alike.

As massive open online courses (MOOC) continue to sprout up, in many cases attracting students who may not otherwise have the possibility to study, educators also debate the extent technology can be used to improve the learning experience and the best way to do that in the traditional classroom setting.

Investors have also targeted so-called edtech, or edutech, opportunities. According to data from the Hack Education site, which tracks developments in the sector, a total of $3.48 billion was invested around the world last year in edtech while the business also saw four mergers, four IPOs and 86 acquisitions. Metaari, a Seattle-based research firm, placed the value of global “learning technology” investments last year at a whopping $9.5 billion, although its definition of just what falls into the edtech basket is far broader than most of  its peers.

While people may disagree on just what edtech is and thus, the extent of the edtech investment boom, there appears to be more agreement on where the funds are going. Topping the list is the United States, while investments in China and India are rising dramatically as investors seek to tap into the vast user bases in both countries and an appetite for new investments in education. While edtech progress in Europe, underpinned by the UK and Scandinavian countries, has been generally slower, there are a growing number of initiatives throughout the Old Continent. In edtech hotspots around the world, schools are increasingly playing a direct role in shaping educational platforms from elementary to university level.

And while there may be much talk of edtech today, it’s hardly a new phenomenon. MIT professor Seymour Papert talked about the benefits of edtech half a century ago. “With computers, there is a substantially bigger chance that you can lead the child with less effort into something he really likes doing,” Papert said in a 1970 interview with Computer Decision. “The intersection with the set of fun things with the set of educational things is sufficiently big so that you should be able to keep every student internally motivated.”

To be sure, technology and edtech have both advanced by leaps and bounds over the decades – go back to the ‘80s and edtech largely meant bulky personal computers, floppy discs and rudimentary programmes – although helping to keep students motivated is still one of the major aims of edtech today.

As edtech proponents look to the use of cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI) is already carving out an important role in the edtech space, a trend that is expected to continue in the future. Its most common use today is in personalised learning programmes, with data collected on the individual allowing for a customised approach based on factors such as the speed of a student’s learning, method of study, goals and personal interests. Along with this comes personalised feedback, allowing for adjustments when learning is not progressing as planned.

Among those that have invested heavily in personalised learning is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which cites the potential for a massive reduction in dropout rates. Edtech also offers an upside to star students, who may progress at a faster pace. High-profile initiatives also include the new FLEXA digital platform created by Microsoft and MIP – the Graduate School of Business of Politecnico di Milano – which provides students and other users with tailor-made digital contents to improve the learning process and help close the gap between their expertise and desired career goals. This is done while enabling collaborative learning and skill building with other platform users and facilitating connections with mentors and job recruiters.

Managing work, being a mother and a student, on the i-Flex EMBA program


We all like to say: “If I had had more time then I would have read more/ worked out in the gym/ spent more time with friends or family/ participated in social projects/ made a dream come true/ learned new things… “

And then your baby is born…Boom!

And you start saying that now you’re totally out time… It’s true, now you have an official excuse to skip a lot of tasks, postpone your dreams and goals and just be a parent.
But, do you know what? I think that all this time-related stuff is just a type of procrastination, just a pretext to enable ourselves to be lazy when no-one can see us. I think that by using this excuse, people think that they look very important to others. However, in the end all of us spend a lot of time (masses!) on totally unimportant time wasters like Facebook, Instagram, PC games, YouTube, TV shows, etc.

Your counterargument may be the need to have some rest and do social activities. But let’s be honest, we could spend our time in a higher quality way with more positive outcomes than most of us do.
When my husband and I decided to do an MBA diploma we were already young parents of a beautiful four-month-old baby girl. At the time I was already the COO of an outsourcing company and I continued working remotely while being on maternity leave.

It is only a matter of time management

Attending a full-time MBA was not an option since, apart from the parenting, there are no accredited EMBA programs in Ukraine. So when we found the i-Flex program with distance learning for an Executive MBA it was like hitting the jackpot. We decided to enrol together and this is how we became student-parents.
My interview with MIP was really extraordinary. On the day of the interview, I came into the office in order to have the proper environment and atmosphere.

Our office is located in a Business Centre in the heart of a city. The call had just started when the Business Centre’s alarm went off with an announcement of a bomb threat in the building. I think that Maria Carulli, who was conducting the interview on behalf of MIP, was shocked. Since this was not the first threat of its kind, however, I told her that we could proceed.

I think that in this, I really showed myself to be a person who can handle stress.
There is no secret to managing work as a COO, being a mother and a student on the i-Flex EMBA program because it is only a question of time management, avoiding some time wasters (I am still working on this) and scheduling priorities.

How to study while working

So, how do I manage to study while working? I usually study early in the morning before everyone wakes up (from 5-6 a.m. until 7-8 a.m. depending on my schedule) or in the evening, after the baby has gone to bed. Also, I have optimized my time schedule at work so as to give me the opportunity to spend some time at work studying – for instance, during lunchtime.

Here I would like to give huge thanks to my trusted team, which I can rely on at any time.

An important part of my life is being a mother to my baby, Kira, who is my heart and soul. She has become used to staying with her nanny while I am at work, but I manage my schedule in such a way as to be able to spend all my free time with her without being distracted by a phone full of e-mails, messages and social networks. Also, Kira travels with me on all my business trips. It is challenging but I feel less stressed when I know that my baby is next to me.

I continue to work out in the gym three times a week, plus twice a week I go the pool with Kira. I try to visit different exhibitions, usually at weekends, which I plan really thoroughly so as not to waste even a minute. I am currently having weekly coaching sessions at 10 p.m. I certainly try to get no less than six hours’ sleep a night. What I miss is reading fiction. I really try to find time for reading but it is one thing that I have been compromising on for some time.
It looks as if I am managing to do everything – however, I feel that I am not managing to do anything at all. What I feel is that 24 hours is not as short a time as it seems. I am learning to fit in all my plans and hoping to upgrade this skill to perfection soon and use it – even after graduation – for good.