Education and Tech

Spongelab - a science education website with a focus on learning through games.

Calling all learning junkies interested in mashing up education and technology! Your A+ digital ideas can help students learn and teachers teach in totally new ways through a career that promises to open new tech frontiers in education for a long time to come.

Virtual schools, online courses, etextbooks, mobile apps, gaming and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones - you name it! They are all changing how we learn, either at school or on our own at home.

Teachers are also using tech to liven up lessons with interactive websites and even educational games that make hard concepts easier to understand.

Companies specializing in education and training now need a broad range of tech skills from software developers for games and apps to multimedia designers of websites and digital tools.

And, if you’re interested in education and love tech this is also one of the fastest growing areas of tech start-up activity for entrepreneurs. According to a recent CIBC study, Canadians working in the education tech sector grew by 65% between 2007 and 2012. This is an amazing area of opportunity for innovative creative types who love to think out-of-the-box.

Cool Education Tech

Top Hat Monocle CEO, Mohsen Shahini. Image courtesy of tophatmonocle.com

Toronto-based Top Hat Monocle is a great example of a startup that saw a gap in education and quickly developed technology to fill it. Founders Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini recognized that mobile devices can be powerful tools for interactive learning yet they weren’t being used to their potential in the classroom by either teachers or students.

In 2010, Silagadze and Shaini launched a web-based homework tool and special software to allow students to use any mobile device to answer quizzes or polls in real-time from a professor during class. Top Hat Monocle is already used by 60,000 students in more than 70 universities around the world.

The team of talent behind Top Hat Monocle shows there’s not one set route to a career in education and tech. Silagadze has an engineering background and Shahini has a PhD in mechatronics and a degree in micro-robotics. Other employees bring diverse skills to the team ranging from web programming and tech marketing to business and social psychology. Regardless of backgrounds, they all share a passion for mashing up education and tech!

Another education website – Spongelab - makes complex subjects like science and math a lot more fun to learn through all types of games. You can play its “Build-a-Body” game to score points by dragging and dropping organs into the right place in a body. Or, play an arcade-like game where you shoot at glucose blobs to convert them into energy. To keep developing fun interactive media, Spongelab’s team has a mix of skills that includes educators, researchers, designers, animators and programmers.

Teachers are also using tech to liven up lessons. Interactive websites and even educational games make numbers come alive! Just like the site coolmath4kids or funbrain. No more scratching your head during math class – you can see fractions and percentages on the screen and move things around. These kind of visual tools make it not just about memorizing numbers. It’s about problem solving and interaction.

As well as the ever growing number of education websites and innovative digital tools to use in class, mobile apps developers are on a real creativity binge. Apple estimates there are more than 20,000 learning and education apps in its iTune store built by developers just for the iPad. Imagine how many other education apps are out there! 

Education, Skills and Careers

Education tech careers are not only for people who understand information and communications technologies (ICT) and digital tech but have a range of other critical skills such as:

  • Problem solving and strategic thinking
  • Innovative thinking
  • Entrepreneur skills
  • Creative thinking
  • Communications and writing
  • Business skills
  • Marketing
  • Team work

So, mash up these skills with tech to launch a career in education technology! You can even graduate with a teaching degree and mash it with technology. Every new digital tool needs the guidance of an educator to make sure it isn’t just fun but also promotes learning in ways both teachers and students will want to use. Here are a few examples of CareerMash profiles related to education and tech careers.

  • Website Developer/Programmer - Use web building skills to create innovative teaching tools such as cool interactive, multimedia websites that not only help students learn but are a whole lot of fun too!
  • Mobile Apps Designer -  Smartphones and tablets are fast becoming the “go to” resource for students looking for extra help and mobile apps are like private tutors who are always there, exactly when they’re needed, to explain complex concepts.
  • Game Developer - Video games aren’t just for entertainment any more. Teachers are using educational games more and more. So, if you love video games, take that talent and develop games to help students shine!
  • Tech Entrepreneur - Do you like the idea of being your own boss? Do you have great ideas, passion and lots of energy? Education tech is one of the fastest growing areas for start-ups in Canada. It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur!
  • Business Analyst - Every educational institution requires business analysts to ensure that all students, faculty and staff always use the best tech for teaching, advising, learning and researching.
  • Help Desk/IT Support - When hundreds of students try to register for courses online at the same time, tech issues are almost inevitable.  As learning is increasingly moving to an online format in today’s world, tech help specialist are needed to allow for minimal interruption for those eager to learn!
  • Network Manager - Whether it’s email, online learning software or a website, network managers are needed to make sure that tech is working up to its potential and systems never go down at schools, colleges and universities.

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