The EdTech sector in the Nordic-Baltic region has been accelerating for a number of years however the pandemic has undoubtedly made digital learning more relevant than ever before. In this interview from NordicBaltic.Tech, a partnership between PUBLIC Denmark and the Nordic Council of Ministers, we spoke to Thor Ellegaard, who is a prominent member of the cross-regional Teach Millions team and CEO of EdTech Denmark, about his role collaborating with startups, teachers and students and innovating to keep people learning across the Nordic-Baltic region.
EdTech Denmark is a nonprofit, market driven cluster association of private and public stakeholders, in the field of danish learning technology. Our main goal is to leverage the unique potential of Nordic pedagogy with educational technology.
That’s why we joined the effort, when most of the global educational system went on lockdown. To create a “gathering of the willing”, to help those in need of education with access to help, tools and support in all sorts and forms.
Teach Millions was initiated by the Nordic EdTech Community, 100+ companies and consultants from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Denmark have come together as donors. It is built on the shared Nordic values and traditions of equality, democracy, motivational learning, and a strong sense of community. In recognition of our privileged position in the world we understand our obligation to reach out and help as best we can.
However, the EdTech Community realises that distance learning is not merely plug-and-play, and so the initiative also assures that some of the best Nordic consultants will stand by to help. Teach Millions presents support at both strategic, tactical, and operational levels.
A surge in demand for digital tools
The lockdown has affected most face to face education on a global scale. Covid-19 will leave an impression in the coming years. A sudden demand for digital tools and assistance has made it clear that educational technology has to be taken seriously, but also something you should measure by the same standards as you would any other learning experience.
The EdTech market is in a weird spot right now. Because most providers see an increase in demand, but a decrease in actual sales. This is in some sense also enforced by our Teach Millions project. We hope to see a positive effect in the near future where the users are able to understand better what kind of solutions and why they need them.
Teaching through challenging times
It is my belief that, in the long run, the global EdTech market will benefit from this increase in demand and exposure. Educational institutions and companies around the world have found ways to teach, meet and collaborate through these times.
Moreover, this has raised a lot of interesting questions about the way we have been structuring our society all around the globe. Is it really necessary for a professor to stand in front of her students, when conducting auditory lectures? Is it really necessary for a mechanic to fly around the world to learn how to change the ignition on a new car model? Learning technology could, in its own right, become a game changer not only for how we learn, meet and upskill, but also for how we spend our limited resources globally.
A future of increased social learning and educational innovation
The biggest lesson learned from the Corona crisis, is that educational technology can support learners and teachers in covering most of the ordinary educational needs on a global scale without physically meeting.
However, equally important is the fact that some things get lost in this transition. Some of the personal relations get lost, or never happen at all. Some vulnerable learners get left behind. And some students and teachers suffer when they lose the physical relationship between teacher and learner.
I hope that the future will bring more social learning. And a more diverse and well informed dialog on educational innovation in general.